Friday, November 20, 2015

Finding Purpose in Sensuous Flowers

Two Amaryllis' by Alan Krug
The past few months have been hard for me artistically. I just didn't have the artistic interest and frankly the drive anymore. I did seem to find joy in teaching my crafting class to a group of seniors where I am living now and came up with some fun ideas that I felt they could do. Unless I was challenged by the class however, alone in my room the paints and blank canvases seemed to glare at me. My students are very busy. For myself personally, nothing.

Months ago I started a painting and then halfway through I stopped; it just sat there ... glaring at me from my craft shelves, shaming me almost for not finishing it. I just couldn't. It was a plant the activities director had given me to give color to my room. Spare and bare, it was lifeless. A pot with blooming red Amaryllis' seemed just the trick. I put them on a table outdoors and could see them from just about anywhere I sat in the room.
New Workspace

I took a liking to them but just couldn't seem to capture the colors and that spurred me on. Sadly, the original photo, now deleted, that I took and printed also just didn't capture what they represented to me. So, with some pluck I took artists license.

First I painted the background in DecoArts Black Green mixed with a little Brown Umber and then adding olive allowed the colors to lighten from upper right to bottom left. It seemed a perfect background for the colors that were to follow.

Using a white pencil I sketched out the flowers easily enough but kept getting lost in the petals complexity. Finally I gave that up and just sketched and painted the outlines when I realized that I would lose everything else when the background color was put down first anyway. It was at this point that I started to lose it. I just couldn't go forward.

Using a back stapled canvas I allowed the background and flowers themselves wrap around all sides. It just seemed to make sense and wouldn't require a frame. Once the red petals were put down and some of the stem and leaves were indicated I stopped. I just simply stopped. It wasn't that I didn't have the time ... man do I have time around here. I just found other ways to use that time. I started going to the gym, got a bit more involved in the home, made a few friends, read more and found myself watching TV more too. In the past I would paint and use the TV for background noise. Now, I actually watched TV and found some wonderful PBS shows, HBO had some movies and documentaries I had never seen ... the list went on and on. In fact, I have written columns of what I have seen! The one thing I didn't do was sleep more. Night time gave me at most 5-6 hours a night and maybe a nap after lunch. What I did do was try to walk at least 30 minutes every day. Maybe that's it. You NEED sleep to be creative!

Then a week or so ago, I looked at that darn painting and feeling sorry for myself in the midst of my radiation treatment, put my painting apron on, retrieved the colors I had used originally and started painting. Here I was in the midst of radiation therapy and had to stay close to home, actually close to a toilet as diarrhea was a very real symptom that hit me the hardest. Tired of TV and reading, I found myself immersed again. It didn't take but two more days of maybe 3 - 4 hours a day. People don't realize the amount of time painting, crafting, writing ... any of those things take.

One of the delights of an Amaryllis is that it is very sensuous. The way the flowers open, leaves rise up and then twist and turn about the flower stem. The throat of the flower is usually one color and literally splashes out onto the petals in vivid contrast and surprising ways. The stamens are also wild and plentiful and colorful picking up the color of the throat. Truthfully what's NOT to like? Only I didn't. I couldn't wait to give it to the person who gave me the flowers to begin with. Why? Because it would remind me of a period that I wanted to forget. Hopefully the gardener it was given to will appreciate his gift as much as I appreciated the gift he gave to me.

Thank you for reading my blog. Please check out earlier blogs that cover a wide range of subjects with an emphasis on designs for living that we deal with each and every day.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Halloween In Palm Springs Where Men Will Be ... In Costume!

Design follows us everywhere in our daily lives. The TV shows we watch, the articles we read on the Internet or for the Luddites, newspapers, everything we do and see has been designed by someone to inform, sell, gladden or sadden us. In exactly the same way, our lives are designed by us from the influences we see all around us each and every day. The difference is that some certainly have more fun than others!

I had an opportunity to spend Halloween in Palm Springs and I must say, OMG! I hear that the show
I didn't know what to wear!
So I chose this.
in West Hollywood is even more spectacular (depending on your point of view) but oddly enough getting there is much harder than going to Palm Springs. You might get there but have to find a place to park and certainly walk a lot farther than we did!

I will say however, the denizens of Palm Springs certainly have no lack of imagination or for that matter sense of design. As you can see here to the right, we have a parlimentary wig, dress coat complete with shirt and tie, sunglasses, a fan and of course those legs! The first time I saw him I ran into someone else. Later, getting up the nerve to photograph him he struck up this pose for me. Few are shy.

Costume Emcee
In the course of the evening we saw the pope with his girlfriend, our Jesus bartender, along with two Polynesian beauties. There was even a contest for best costumes with an Emcee as outrageous as the rest! Don't you love that hair? Her beautician must live in New Jersey.
Swan Lake Anyone?
I would never, EVER consider dressing like this but I did enjoy the time it must have taken to create these costumes and of course looking.

One in particular was outstanding ... one that must have taken hours to create ... the lady dressed like a swan. Putting that together was similar to what you might see at the ballet or theatre. Amazing.

The overwhelming theme of course is to have fun. Whether you are an out-of-towner (and the snowbirds are here in force) a local or worker, everyone gets in the spirit! It's not just for the kiddies anymore, that is for sure.

To say that we didn't have fun would be to tell a lie. It was fun and some costumes were definitely more outrageous than others easily earning nearly if not an X rating.While the streets and bars were crowded everyone had a great time. I sure know that I did!

The Pope and friend
Jesus the Bartender 

Sitting and observing all this I realized that Halloween has morphed from Mom and Dad or, in my case big older brother, marching up and down the street getting goodies with a child to something far more involved. New Orleans may have Mardi Gras but today most big cities have nights of rivalry centered around Halloween. It is a time to let go, to regain that childhood dream of being someone else if even for a night. The number of year-round Halloween stores attest to that!
Polynesian Beauties

I can remember a few years back going to the pet store a few days before Halloween and seeing owners and their pets waiting patiently to be photographed by the photographer set up in the store.  While I know many dog owners, in particular, give their dogs almost childlike status what I saw before me took my breath away. The owner and the dog wore matching outfits ... elaborate ones like I saw here. Bumblebees, Dracula's, ghosts and so very much more. I started to laugh, got nasty stares, hurried outside to really laugh and finally once calmed down, went back in, bought the dog food I needed carefully averting my eyes so I would't gape or laugh anymore. The urge to return with my camera was hard to resist. Now with an iPhone you get almost professional quality right on the spot. I could have taken pictures to my hearts content. I don't know if the owners would have been as happy as the Palm Springs crowd but it certainly would have been worth the effort.

I wanted to point out here, like it or not, costumes require a great deal of time and designing effort. You get out of it what time you put into it. They inspire us to have an suspension of belief giving us the permission to live in a fantasy world. It is in the designing that it is so much more fun!

Thank you for reading my blog. Please review some of the others as well. All are written with design in mind, some are artistic and some merely my reflections of the world in general.