Sunday, August 30, 2015

Woman with Small Dog on a Leash 2015

In December of 2014, I went to the animal humane society to find a new dog to replace our old dalmatian, gone over the Rainbow Bridge.  Our other dog, Niko, was catatonic with grief, and it hurt me to see my lively, brave, and fierce little dog curled up in a ball on his pillow, only moving when forced to.  I was clear on what I wanted: a largish dog, perhaps Labrador size. Sex didn't matter, but he/she needed to be at least a year old and housebroken.  I wanted something that would keep the coyotes at bay--that wouldn't let anything in the yard that would kill and eat my little fearless terrier. 

Instead, I came home with a 7lb, 5 month old female dachshund/miniature pinscher cross puppy with god knows what else mixed in.  She'd been picked up as a stray on the mean streets of Albuquerque.  She was never going to be big, that was for sure, and, of course, was not house-broken. She was very timid, and hid behind the TV for the first hours in our house.  When I approached her, she would run away, and her cautiousness  reminded me of the coyotes I was hoping to keep out of our yard.  But there was something about her that spoke to me, some quality of reserve and dignity that I could see under the fear in her skinny body. When I finally  managed to catch her and then pick her up, I could feel her surrender, melting her body into mine, burying her head in my chest, safe at last.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fox with Rabbit 2014

Raised on PBS nature documentaries, there was always the confusion for me of who the "good guy" was.  Was it the young antelope, separated from the herd, then stalked and chased relentlessly until brought down by a pride of lions working in tandem?  We see her head, eyes still open, moments before she dies, the lions covering her body.  Or is it the mother lion, greeting her cubs after returning from feeding on the antelope?  Without this food, the somber voice-over tells us, the mother won't be able to produce milk for the babies,  and they will weaken and die.  We watch as the cubs swarm the mother's belly as she collapses on the ground, stretching out her long body so that there is room for all to feed.

As an adult, I came to realize that there was no one good guy, or, perhaps better said, all in nature is the "good guy".  Without one, we can't have the other.  Rabbits, and there are a lot of them, are eaten by predators, and predators, which there aren't so many of, face starvation if they don't find prey. They both live by their wits, and if they don't, they die. The reality, beyond the death of one animal or the other, is that both fox and rabbit live on, headed in different directions but sharing the same world of sky and forest.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Two People Walking 2014

Although I'm shy, I am friendly.  When I bike or walk, I always verbally greet or nod to acknowledge the person coming my way, whether I know them or not.  On a recent trip to the bay area, I took a ride on a bike path in Lafayette, California.  It's an affluent area on the far east side, and there were lots of people out.  I did my normal, nod, or nod and greet, or just greet, to the people I passed, and I remembered, from the last time I rode my bike on that same bike path, that people weren't so friendly.  Some people would respond, but in a kind of sullen, not happy at being forced to do this kind of a way.  Others just ignored me or looked away.  It hurt my feelings.  I felt intrusive, like a large Labrador puppy that won't stay out of your space.  As my ride came to an end, I found myself tight lipped, not greeting, nodding, or greeting and nodding anymore.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Working Summer 2015

Painting has always been my true north. I paint outside because it's such a messy, sloppy process.  The floor of the porch is covered with paint, as will be my legs, shoes and apron as the days proceed.
July in Albuquerque is usually hot, but, thanks to climate change, we've had an unseasonably cool and wet summer.  Working outside connects me to my small part of the world:  our dogs racing around, neighbors going by in the street, the wind, the rain, the sun, smells.
With this painting session, which lasted about a week, I tried to act on whatever my creative inner voices told me to do.  At this point in my life as an artist, I have an overload of materials:  paints, tools, surfaces, and miscellaneous items that I used to paint with including but not limited to mops, brooms, sanders, and ladders.  So, it's finding, pulling out and using what I need as I need it.  Since the paintings are abstract, I'm only reacting to the painting itself, not what they can or should be.
The paintings that emerged from this session were lighter, cleaner, and simpler than what I've done in the past.  When I finished, I felt that they were the best paintings  I'd ever done, but then, I always feel that way. 
It rained heavily one afternoon while I worked, so I took one of the paintings, with wet paint on it, and set it in the rain to see what would happen.  The results were pretty great.
At the end of the week I had over 30 paintings that I felt were absolutely stunning, most fairly small.  I sat with that good feeling for a few days, but then realized I had to come up with surfaces that would be better than the paintings alone.  My good feelings turn to ones of anxiety as I start trying to figure out what to put on top of these lovely things.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Thoughtful Man 2002

"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened"  Mark Twain

7:30 a:m on a Sunday and I was getting dressed to go for a run.  My husband came into the bedroom, pale and anxious and said he needed my help.  Worried, I hurried to finish dressing and found him sitting at the desk in the family room with his laptop open.   "I can't get this to work.  I just don't know what to do.  I feel terrible".  He was due to leave for a week long workshop in Colorado, a seven hour drive, and was trying to post a letter of recommendation to an application portal that was due the following day.  It wouldn't let him in. I couldn't help.  His despair deepened.  I suggested he call the listed contact number  the first thing the next morning for help.  "But everything is here in the computer" he groaned, "and I've got to get going".   I reminded him that the computer was a laptop, and he could take it with him.  His face brightened. I made us some breakfast, we ate, and he drove away, free of his burden IT burden.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Woman with Old Age 2003

In 2002 one of my students had just turned 60, and to show us that being 60 was no big deal, she stood on her head for us and I took her her photo.  Now, 14 years later, and well into my 60's, I marvel at how old I thought 60 was at the time.  Somehow, somewhere,(if we're lucky) this sneaky thing has happened, or will happen, to us all:  we will find that we are old. We will come to realize that, with great good fortune, we may have only another 20 years or so to live.  Our parents will be dealing with either serious disabilities, be dying or have died.  Friends and acquaintances that are younger than we are will discover a serious illness, or die from accidents, illness, or some terrible misfortune. Our hair and beards will turn gray, we will have to bend our knees and will grunt when we lean over.  For women, chins hairs will sprout like unkempt lawns. For men, morning erections will be only a faint memory.

But we are still the same us inside, still making the same silly mistakes that we have always made.  We are still sure that we will live forever  and think of death and misfortune as something that happens to someone else, but not us.  We swear that we won't make the same mistakes as our parents who refuse to go into assisted living even though they can't see and can't remember, but, of course, we will.  We carry bad feelings about family members, and it's only when they come down with a serious illness that we realize how foolish we've been, and how much time we've wasted thinking bad thoughts and saying hurtful things. We think if we don't eat sugar, and cut grains and processed foods from our diet, our memories won't go, and we will avoid pain and discomfort because we exercise regularly. I'm hoping that at some point we will acquire wisdom, patience, and tolerance to substitute for all that we've lost.  However, I'm afraid we may just keep bumbling along, just as we always have, thinking that as long as we can stand on our heads, we will be okay.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dog on a Chain 2001

Currently, we are in possession of three dogs:  Cash, a large, 8 year old brindle mastiff on loan for the summer from our youngest daughter Teal; Sophie, our 11 month old Dachshund, Min-pin cross added to the family last December after Junior, our autistic Dalmatian crossed over on the Rainbow Bridge; and Niko, our 5 year old Rat Terrier.

I'd never owned a terrier before we got Niko.  He was one or two years old (the go-to vet age when no one really knows for sure except that they aren't puppies and they aren't old)when I found him on Craig's list and added him to the family.  He's a very handsome guy, and incredibly athletic.  He is sweet, even tempered, and, for the most part, pretty easy going.  He weighs in at 16 pounds. However, he is a killer.  The breed was bred to go after vermin(hence the moniker), so that anything that moves means that his entire focus is on that thing.  That also means that he is constantly alert to movement and noise, and, with incredible speed, will take off after anything moving.  He's so fast, and so intense, that in a moment he can be out of my sight, headed straight for some kind of big trouble.

When I really think about it, I feel terrible for the constraints I place on him.  He has to put up with the indignity of a leash, a fenced yard, and when he is free and running I'm always calling him back, pulling him away from the incredibly wonderful sights, sounds and smells of his Rat Terrier world.  Not only did I have him castrated, but, to add insult to injury, I bath him after each time he finds the most wonderful things to roll in--usually shit or a dead carp--completely nullifying the magic of the back deep in the ground, digging deep roll. He gets scolded for just being himself, for discovering and eating great great things(I don't even want to know). I watch him, I admire him, I love him and even with all the care I take, I  worry that one day, that Rat Terrier nature will take him too far away for him to come back.