Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Year of the Sheep!!

Not only is 2015 the Year of the Sheep, but I'm feeling a bit woolly headed and sheepish.
Last year (and  the year before that) I published calendars consisting of reproductions of my paintings with seasonal quotes.  For reasons that only amount to excuses, I didn't have one ready before the end of 2014.  But I'm (almost) back up to speed!

If you would like a 2015 version (new paintings!! new quotes!!), they'll be ready for mailing January 24. (Printed on 8.5 x 11 paper, 17 x 11 when hanging.) Please let me know if you would like one (or more) no later than Saturday, January 16.

You should have yours in time to celebrate the end of National Hot Tea Month as well as Inspire Your Heart With Art Day (January 31)!

If I ever get famous, these will be collector's items!

_____    Calendar(s)  @ $ 15.00
_____    US shipping and handling @ $5.00
_____    Australia, Europe, Asia shipping and Handling @ $10.00

Happy New Hear, Happy Hygge and Best Wishes,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas! 30% Nostalgia 30% Egg Nog 40% Friends and Family

Frances "Bunny" Gorby with her daughter.   

   Whether your Christmas is religious or secular, I think you'd have to agree that sometimes traditions take on a life of their own.  On my first Christmas (or when I turned one, thefamily lore is dim), My mother's friend, Bunny Gorby gave me a tiny wooden angel holding a birthday cake with a single candle. (She's the middle one of the group of three between the Three Kings (made and painted in Poland) and the Jester with cymbals. My mother, who wasn't really THAT much of a collector loved the little figurines and made a point to buy them to celebrate every festive occasion or milestone (real or imagined)  in my life:  Report cards, birthdays, holidays, you name it.  She also persuaded  friends and relatives who traveled (my parents weren't travelers for some reason) to pick up local folk art figures wherever they went. 
     Annually, from as early as I can remember, she got the boxes out of car-port storage and arranged the figurines in a parade on the sills of the clerestory windows in our living room.  It was a BIG deal when I was deemed grown up enough to help un-wrap and arrange the figurines. We remembered what was in each box.  Every major department store in mid-century California was represented:  Bullocks, I. Magnin, Robinsons, and plenty of jewelers because their boxes were the right size!  We each had our favorites.
     So above from the left are one of the few duplicated figurines:  twin Mexican Madonnas with Jesus.  Next is a German creche scene (with Kewpie dolls and their powder puff in the back), a German angel orchestra (gotta get THAT cymbal player back on her feet!
      Behind them are three un-matched donkeys.  For some reason, my grandfather, Emil Arthur Hazenbush, identified himself with donkeys.  The best reason I came up with was that he could be stubborn as a mule. He even included a donkey in his Insurance Agency's logo.
     To the right of the donkey is a Mexican goose girl with geese, two Mexican cups and saucers, a miniature English Tea Set (painted with pink roses), a Steif boy and girl in folk costumes, an English porcelain couple in Edwardian costumes, and an American painted wood couple in Williamsburg/Revolutionary costume.
 Grampa Hazenbush, whom we actually called John (again-- who knows why?!!) emigrated from Husum,  a part of Denmark near Schleswig-Holstein that was eventually appropriated by Prussians in the mid 1800's.  My mother and I were pretty enamored of  the Scandinavians.
     My parents' closest friends were fortunate enough to travel to Scandinavia frequently on business (Mad Men era and he was in Advertising!!)  They brought home Swedish Sailors and Fishermen, Trolls, Vikings, Tomten, Farmers and their hardworking, flax-threshing wives.  (And there's one stray rooster from Portugal for luck!)
     But we also foraged locally.  There were quite a few stores (before Hallmark, The Paper Place or Michaels) that imported authentic European crafts and creations.  The triangular "tree" below was always a favorite of mine, as was the stylized yellow ram and the somewhat indecipherable PAPER sheep to the right. I even found tha tone  favorite figure was marked "San Rafael carnival $.25" and another $.10 from the Boys Republic Rummage Sale at which she was a volunteer.
      Before everyone was terrified of actual wax candles, many of the wooden angels were made to hold birthday-cake sized candles.  It was a family tradition to light a candle each on New Year's Night, watch them burn to within a hairs width of the angel hand, then blow them out and make a wish for the new year.  I continued that tradition with my children until they started families of their own.  If I could find more "wishing angeles"  I'd get them!
On the shelf below is "The Bird Girl."   She is seated, holding a bird AND a bowl of bird feed, befriended by two more birds.  I don't know whether she belonged to my grandmother Trudy, or whether she gave it to me, but I always associate it with her.  She is one of the oldest figurines in the collection--and in very good condition.  Next to her is another Wendt and Kuhn* girl, singing with her bird-muse.The angel with the sheep (and an unrelated Dala horse) is my newest Wendt and Kuhn... perhaps a great granddaughter of the other!  I'm sure you can recognize the three little pigs, the Bavarian cow and the Blue Dala Horse.
Wendt and Kuhn make my favorite figurines.  There are other figurine carvers in the same town, Erzgebirge in the Ore Mountains between Czechoslovakia and Bohemia in what used to be East Germany.  
Of course there were a fair number of "mid century" animals and puzzles, too.  After all, 1950 was "my" year!

My husband likes to buy me art glass.  I'm delighted at how well it goes with the collection.  The shelf below is sort of a hodge podge.  Two German lads, a skier and a fiddler, two Swedish cats, a couple of trolls, a Portuguese shepherd with two sheep, a Portuguese flower vender under an umbrella, Mama Elephant with two babies and a rogue ivory elephant, a glying glass pig, a spotted dog on wheels (another figure I remember from my earliest years, a box with angels dancing on the lid, a Finnish polar bear, all watched over by a crazy looking Swedish Rooster and a more serious Russian Nesting Doll. Some of these figures were gifted to me by MY friends... so the tradition continues.Several years ago, I treated myself to the whole set of St. Lucia Figures from W&K.  If you don't know about St. Lucia, you can read about it here.

 I also added some horn players.  The Bassoon playing angel is a tribute to my son, who played bassoon in junior high (until he discovered drums!!)  And the Tyrolean bugler and Trumpeting Angel are tributes to my husband who played trumpet in a big R&B band in St. Louis.  The three pastel angels with fiberglass hair are quintessential 60's, don't you think?
 By now, you can probably recognize the W&K style.  They are finely detailed and painted with shiny enamel.  The "official" angels always have green wings with 11 white dots. The Marguerite figures usually have crowns of daisies and white wings.  The shelf below also has tome Tomten, a hedge hog, a pig and a figure of Befana... claimed by Italy and Russia as a magical old lady/witch who would fly on her broomstick and give coins to infants on the Eve of Epiphany just in case they were the Baby Jesus.

In spite of the lack of focus below, you can see an Icelandic couple made from porcelain, a troll with Einstain hair (a personal favorite -- he was acquired in the 60's) , a Farmer's Daughter and two Tomten or Nisse. 
The Caroling Mouse below is a collectible based on Beatrix Potter characters.  She has her charms, but my family always preferred the carved wood figures.  Next to her is an enameled tin umbrella sheltering a frog and a duck, a Swedish snowman and Tomte, and then a group of figures from Poland.  I think my parents' friends picked them up even before after the downfall of the "Iron Curtain."
The dusky brown and gold angels are Danish.  The lad with the goose and hobo bag is from Ergzgebirge, and the boy with the suitcase is W&K again.  My mother repaird his bird's house with a Monopoly hotel....
Finally, there's a "transportation" themed shelf.
  My husband has made three car models of cars he's had:  a Mustang, VW and Miata.  He says he's going to make one of my first car (a Pontiac Catalina aka "the tank"), but he's balking at my second car, a AMC Gremlin which I loved, but no one else did.  The Figures wearing black hats, and blue shirts and riding on the red wagon or sled are Pennsylvania Dutch.  They (and the black cat) are cast iron and weigh about 20 times as much as any of the other figures. 
     I am sad that for many of their growing up years, I didn't have a place to display this part of my history for my children.  I am sad they don't know the stories of each one in their bones.  I am sad that they didn't get to make up stories as they played (gently) with them.  I am sad that they probably never will. 
     And I'm sad that there is twice as many MORE figurines still wrapped in tissue, cotton and boxes, for which I have no room to put out.  Maybe next year... after DH has had his wood-working shop up and running for a year!
 I'm glad I've thought of cataloging and recording these... whether it's for posterity, or just me remains to be seen.  The minutes spent with these cats, dogs, angels and trolls are good ones.
     Hoping that even your bitter-sweet recollections of Christmases past bring you joy and comfort, and that you find conviviality and warmth this Christmas season.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cellar Dweller

After an inspiring session with the Nashua Artist's Breakfast Club, I got back down to the basement, my easel, two small space heaters, several tubes of paint, partially completed canvases and some brushes and a palette knife.
I'd really be interested in what you think of my snow scene.  It is from a reference photograph, but I've made quite a few changes.  Since I really don't have Smilla's sense of snow... I can use all the help I can get!!

I also repainted some of the shadows and highlights in an old cat portrait.  I over painted "her" eyes because the others were wrong.  Obvioiusly, these are crazy, too.  Amazing how liberating it was to paint over a lot of the "old" paint, rather than trying to do it all alla prima.
 And this is my daily 6x6:  Definitely alla prima.  At least the pears look a bit more voluptuous... Although REAL highlights aren't three dimensional!!
(Suggestions welcome/solicited on this, too!!)

Friday, December 05, 2014

PEM: Calder, Gould and Gifts

 A friend and fan of the arts accompanied me to the Alexander Calder show at the Peabody Essex Museum today.  While I really enjoyed the mobiles and stabiles, I think I enjoyed the comaraderie the most.

Because the art was on loan from LACMA, I couldn't take photographs of the actual exhibit pieces.  I did draw some fairly peculiar images, though.  The mobiles would move, and the stabiles were SO 3D and peculiarly shaped, that drawing them in any sort of representational way was pretty challenging.  The photographs of the actual pieces are from Google Images and are of the FULL SIZE pieces.  The all orange one, called La Grande Vitesse, is in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  The Black and Orange one, called Southern Cross is at the Storm King Art Center in upstate New York.  They will re-open April 1, 2015.  I want to go!
Calder believed that a big piece had to look good even when it was small, so he almost always made "maquettes" or miniatures of the big pieces, and those were primarily what fit in the museum gallery.  The pieces I drew (below right) were, I think, final size.  Note how they balance on a single point.  As good as Cirque du Soleil!  There were several batches of elementary aged school children present.  They seemed quite entranced with the mysterious physics, construction methods and just-plain differentness of these works.

Another special exhibit consisted of furniture now believed to have been made in the workshop of Nathaniel Gould.  The installation was particularly well thought out, with video showing a contemporary craftsman replicate significant elements by hand:  a carved scallop, chair leg, and Chippendale chair back.
 Many of the pieces were commissioned by Jeremiah Lee as wedding gifts (dowry?) for his daughter.  Must be nice to have custom made furniture! Tax rolls indicated he was the wealthiest man in Massachusetts (before the Revolutionary War).  He made his money as a merchant through shipping.  He was apparently good at smuggling arms and gunpowder to the colonies as well.  He died young as a consequences of events in Lexington in 1775.
 He was wealthy enough to have THE John Singleton Copley paint his portrait.  I think the painting is at least 12 feet high.
 The piece below is very much like a desk I inherited from my paternal grandmother.  Maybe I should ask the PEM to evaluate it rather than a local New Hampshire auction house!!  Allegedly, Gould made this as his "low end" model.
 Belos is the "high end" (fancy) model.
 Apparently a table and tea pot were essential for every woman so that she could entertain in style.  Tables with "pie crust edges" were more expensive than totally flat ones, but had the advantage of keeping precious chinaware from sliding off onto the floor.
 This "side table" was usually set against a wall to save space.  When the entire surface area was needed, there was a swiveling piece or gate leg that could swing out and prop up the dropped leaf.  Since New England homes of any age are usually small, this is a useful convenience.
 The artisan in the video is the director of  the Furniture Institute of Massachusetts, Phil Lowe. 
 There was a decorative arts display in another gallery.  Below  is one of the modern teapots.

As always, the PEM museum shop had lots of treasures.  I hope that I can persuade my husband to make some copies of these trees in the workshop before NEXT Christmas.
 Sometimes a fun painting is more about nerve than artistry.  I really like this simple six petaled flower.
 ... and this wooden tree shape from which to hang ornaments!
 If I wrote out 100 affirmations, quotes, or predictions and wrapped them in beautiful paper, they might be appreciated.  They could be picked randomly or shuffled or...
 Hoping you are on the lookout for art-on the move!

Thursday, December 04, 2014

The day AFTER the horrible, no good, very bad day.

Yesterday was the pits.  I felt off balance, angry, afraid, and a little queasy most of the day.
Today was a very different story.
Yesterday I took the car for oil change and inspection. 
            FOUR NEW TIRES. $$$$
Well, that wasn't too surprising.  The service agent had warned me the tires were getting thin a couple of months ago, so I was not too shocked.  (And apparently a SUV type car burns through tires faster than a "regular" sedan. But what threw me into a royal tizzy was that the  guy couldn't find my car registration.  And I had NO IDEA WHY IT WASN"T IN THE GLOVE COMPARTMENT.
I totally panicked.
DH was not answering the phone.  AND I had plans for the rest of the day.  And.... and... and.

But today was a new day.  A VERY new day.
First up was an appointment with my "shrink."  If you've known me long, you know that I was one myself, and that I became one at least partly so I could unlearn a lot of crazy stuff I'd learned from my parents (They were part of the "Mad Men" AND "Leave it to Beaver" generation), and  have an excuse to study why people get depressed, discouraged, stuck, etc. etc.  So even though I aged out and retired, I still need to read, study and digest.

Well, boy, howdy were there ever some important insights, changes and experiences of relief this morning.
So that pretty much eliminated  yesterday's catastrophizing, melancholy, worry, fear, anxiety etc. I felt like it was finally safe to stop wearing a cumbersome, heavy suit of armor. (I never felt like Zena or one of those dominatrix types in the video games!)  I also realized that I'm not in a perpetual jousting tournament any more.  I suddenly found confidence that I could figure out a solution to the car registration dilemma and that it was unlikely I would go to jail:  for the rest of my life.  

DH was SO understanding, without my really having to say much.  (He couldn't find the registration, either).  But he agreed to see if we could get either a replacement registration paper, or register for the coming year at the Town Hall.  (In New Hampshire, your car registration is due on the last day of your birthday month.)

We could! and we did!  The Town Clerk didn't have a lot of understanding OR sympathy about how people lose their registrations, either, but acknowledged that we were hardly the only ones, even in our tiny town of about 4289 people.
So now the car is registered until December 2015!  AND we went to get the car inspected, and didn't have to pay, because it had been included in the bill for the tires and oil change.

So, I stopped and bought some (more) yarn!

And then answered e-mail.  Knit some and then had a happy, fun painting session.  Worked on a snow scene that I'd prepped with lavender under painting.
 And attempted a little still life with bears, lemon and lime (artificial, also from yarn supplier).  I'm happy with the brush work, but had no idea just HOW flat pears could look!  
But you know what?  I still feel FREE.  Freer than I've probably felt since I could walk or talk.
And that made it a very good day.
The kind of day when you just wanted to be your best, brightest, most fabulous self.  I think that's what I was trying to do in the photo of me, above, when I was about three.  I plan to feel that feeling every day, whenever possible.
There's a land that I see where the children are free
And I say it ain't far to this land from where we are
Take my hand, come with me, where the children are free
Come with me, take my hand, and we'll live
In a land where the river runs free
In a land through the green country
In a land to a shining sea
And you and me are free to be you and me
                 Marlo Thomas

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Birds' Return (and DGD)

Just returned home to Grandma's house after a wonderful movable feast of Thanksgiving at Son, DIL and DGD's (Darling Grand Daughter)  house. The snow storm and ill-timed case of strep throat meant that the turkey would just  have to wait.
And so it did.  DIL and Son knocked themselves out with turkey and side dishes traditional to at least four families that I counted:  mashed potatoes, green beans (NO casserole!), corn casserole, stuffing, turkey, HOMEMADE rolls (two kinds),  home-made butter, molded strawberry jello, rum cake, cannoli cheese cake, pumpkin pie and Rolo/pretzel bites.  I think when we get together for Christmas, there will be still MORE "favorite" foods to be sampled, but it will be up to ME to prepare it!
The granddaughter had only figured out this year that Halloween pumpkins were connected with PIE.  So her mom made one in spite of the fact that she doesn't care for pies in general, nor vegetables (or ANY type) in particular.  DGD seemed to like the pie, though and REALLY liked her Aunt's strawberry jello.  (Everyone else had sort of pretty much made fun of the jello because it was billed  as a substitute for cranberry sauce. But I think for little girls and their memories, something THAT pink and THAT sweet is perfect.) 

 DGD and her two Aunts, listening to the Host expound on something while remaining skeptical!
DGD stayed in touch with Grampa while staying near Daddy.  I love watching "my" boys and DGD!
An extra bonus to the day was the return of the Juncos to one of our bird feeders.  DH spotted them first.
 They are tiny but HUNGRY.  And just after taking this photo, this guy allowed himself to "free fall" to snow level on the far side of the porch.  Must be fun to "jump" when you know you can pull up with a flick of the wings.
 The Blue Jays over winter.  I'm surprised this one stuck around as long as it did because I think the only thing the feeder was full of was snow.  Must tramp through the 5 inches (or so) that we have to re-fill it with seed.  The squirrels or chipmonks had already left foot prints from under the porch to the foot of the feeder.
 Looking disgruntled, don't you think?  Tomorrow!  OK? 
 After all that food, including tryptophan, Old Fashioneds, a little beer, a little wine, we were ALL kind of bushed, and WE weren't on post-strep anti-biotics.  But it was fabulous to be with family.  I'm thankful for all of you.