Monday, January 30, 2012

Work in progress

"The vital difference between salamander and newt" (Salamander)
24x24 inches, acrylic on board.

Based on a personal mistake regarding illustration of a newt. A flying newt at that.

Friday, January 27, 2012

An odd Elrin quote

After performing my morning chores of coffee and bagged lunch, I come back to the office to stare at the computer screen in zombie mode.
There is a crash from the adjacent desk, which sounds a lot like an upended can of paint brushes. I look up. 5 feet away, Finnegan and the husband look mightily guilty.
"Whatever it is you're doing, stop it," I say.
Finni, the fat cat, is all wide-eyed innocence.
"He rolled at me," Says Elrin defensively.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Plants are strange. Period.

A little homage to Plants are the Strangest People.
Yes, the flowers are tubular as well as star-shaped. I plea creative license.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Kiwis and milestones

Pomegranates come into the supermarket around Thanks-Giving, Navel oranges come in right around Christmas. End of January, apparently, is kiwi-time. Yesterday, while doing our regular weekly pick-up at the local store, Elrin and I ran into a stack of clear containers from California, each filled with 8 or so kiwi-fruit. Kiwis from the US? How unlikely! Preposterous, even!
And so, defying Elrin's common (?) sense, I got a box, instead of Italian-bred pile of loose fruit. The latter were definitely softer and, El thought, sweeter.

So, what's the word on the Cali-Kiwi's?

They are actually quite good; firm, but very sweet.

"Silence of the Lambs" is up in the book list, from the stack originally gotten from the folks' farm. Am about a third of the way through, and am very surprised that a character as cliche as an FBI trainee can hold ones' attention so well.

On the art end, I've finished off the black and white images for "Two Little Birds". It's a short story-book intended for the kiddies 2 to 3 years of age, with very little text, but a lot of pictures for the parent to talk their children through. Presently, I'm in mortal terror of actually coloring it in.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Aliens finished

Acrylic on board, 23x24"
The starlings are still out back, doing their 'roll-over' feeding thing, where the back of the group constantly tries to get in front of the front. Result? A perpetual motion machine with a lot of squabbling.

Currently am stuck on -3 pages for the children's book; ran out of watercolor paper and waiting for the next batch to come in. It is very frustrating.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mild and newslike

The ground-pecker is out back again, looking mildly like a mourning dove on steroids. How such a bird can survive in our backwoods filled with cats and an occasional fox, gods only know.

The forced freesias are finally blooming, palest white and flame-red, respectively. The downstairs hibiscus (the one which we got from a friend for my folks, but were never able to part with), is slowly setting itself up with another show of blooms. The false shamrock at its base is flaunting dozens of flowering stems. Perhaps, the latter's got a complex about being short.

A couple of the African Violets, from the batch which survived the cyclamen mite epidemic of '11, are blooming as well. They are "Playful Rainbow" and "Optimara Clementine", both of which need re-potting badly. Of one of the three non-bloomers is the same plant that I strongly suspect started the epidemic, a living sign that heat treatment works.

The amaryllis decided that it wanted to bloom again and put out a pompous-looking bud, while the monster in the bedroom, AKA the passionfruit, is still struggling to take over the world.

Meanwhile, here I sit, typing things about all those plants, and eating slightly overcooked artichoke (make that two) for breakfast. Makes one feel slightly sacrilegious.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Occasionally (about once every year), I get filled with enthusiasm and try to write/publish a book. Actually, writing is the easy part. It's the publishing bit that I haven't gotten around to mastering.

The most recent creative effort along these lines involves a children's book about a pair of flightless birds that discover some berries and build a ladder to get to them. The birds are of a "chickie" breed, or a breed invented to amuse my baby sister. They are blob-like, short-limbed, and utterly silly.

This is the inking of the first page. The added text is: "There lived in the forest two flightless birds..."
Currently am on page 10 out of 14 with it.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mama is wicked

"Mama Makes up her Mind"
By Bailey White
AKA- "The yarns of the anecdote queen."
Rating: 9/10
I knew a guy that told stories, once upon a time. He was a part of a larger group that beat each other up with padded weapons for the fun of it. He was known for occasionally being seen without his kilt during late evenings at various conventions for this group. Yet, damn it, when he sat down and began telling a story, a rapt circle of people would instantly form around him. It was difficult to tell where that audience actually came from- guess they were groupies. Bailey White writes along the same caliber, with wonderfully short anecdotal chapters and many references to alligators. Some of her stories are humorous, some are sad, and some just make you knit your eyebrows and say "Huh!". Wonderful recreational reading all around.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A friend asked...

A friend asked, "So what's going on with your life?"
I answered, "Finished one painting, started another."
We shared a laugh.

Both are 23x24 inches, acrylic on panel.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday again.

It is black as the inside of someone's mouth outside, and the sound of rain rules over the room, meshes with the glow of the screen. It's Monday morning again, which means a guilt-induced breakfast salad, half-day of cleaning house, another half-day of painting. Squeezed into there somewhere is cooking and coffee with a friend.

I've been thinking about the contents of the next solo show for a while now, and must sadly conclude that it will be about birds. Why? Because birds are interesting. Ever-present. Enduring. Symbolic. Birds are one of those things that are Worth Painting.  I'd even put them somewhere between houseplants and cats within the realm of personal understanding. (But, who would want a painting of a houseplant?)

Recently, one of those mega-flocks of starlings has been hanging around the trees in the front yard. It is no surprise that they've yet to move south- it was 50 degrees out here last afternoon, probably a record high for this timeof the year. The flock itself splits up every morning into smaller marauding bands, which waddle across lawns and plop collectively into privet bushes to eat the tiny blue berries. In the evenings, starlings sing much like they walk- with a great deal of enthuseasm and zest, but little grace. 

Starlings remind me of people- those gregarious, tenacious flocks of strangers in the cities.

Friday, January 6, 2012

A book quickie

Not as horrid as it sounds.

Been sick for the past two weeks or so, with what I suspect are two different strains of flu. However, thanks to coming back from the parents' (both of whom are avid readers, and from one of whom I've possibly caught the flu), a brand new stack of books had migrated to the local night-table. Here is one-

"In Defense of Food"
By Michael Pollan
AKA- "In attack of mankind."
Rating: 9/10
Got some bias here, since I was moderately fond of the author's "Botany of Desire". To summarize, Defense attacks the modern trends of counting nutrients, packaged foods, and lack of leafy vegetables in our diets. Pollan even provides helpful guidelines in the end, which are more useful to an old-fashioned one-person-working, one-person-at-home couple, than to most of the population. The writing itself is sensationalistic in the "Fast-food Nation" sort of way, as El kindly informed me after half a dozen read-aloud quotes. Still, this book is a worthwhile expenditure of your time, if only to make you think twice of what you eat, and how.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


My eyes open on a clear January morning, and I realize that there is a monster in the bedroom.

Wait a moment- what? Let's back up and start from a seed. There is nothing inherently wrong about growing houseplants from seeds. Seeds are the foundation of civilization. Hell, which of us hasn't tried it with a lemon? (The results may vary, but are often thorny.) Lemons, avocados, apples, even an occasional squash and pomegranate, all these could be easily started indoors and left out for the summer. Some die off, others come back in to crowd us during the winter months.

Yet others come back with thoughts of a hostile take-over.

Passion fruit is right up there with pomegranate in terms of exotic indoor appeal. Tastes mighty fine, too. Back in kiddie years, I used to have a seed-started one that even bloomed on occasion. It was tiny, and cute, and eventually passed away from some illness or another. Or, possibly, mom forgot to water it once I left for that boarding school. Regardless, it was a passable houseplant, so I thought I'd give it another shot.

The question to the masses is such: are they injecting passion fruit seeds with steroids these days?

 The plant above was started from seed in the first days of 2011 and left outside for the summer. It was then brought into the room with the expectation that it would do the same thing as the seed-grown lemon- namely, sulk for four months and drop leaves by the handful. Instead, the passiflora tripled in size and is currently waging war on the adjacent jasmine. Needless to say, neither have yet to bloom.

On a completely unrelated note, here's a little update of a work in progress:

"Thoughts on motherhood". 23x24 inches