three books

three books

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Scratch and Sniff

Smell is a potent wizard that transports us across thousands of miles and all the years we have lived. The odors of fruits waft me to my southern home, to my childhood frolics in the peach orchard. Other odors, instantaneous and fleeting, cause my heart to dilate joyously or contract with remembered grief. Even as I think of smells, my nose is full of scents that start awake sweet memories of summers gone and ripening fields far away.

-- Helen Keller

I came across that quote years ago reading a fabulous book called "The Natural History of the Senses" by Diane Ackerman - a good read overall but my favorite part was the chapter about smell. Here is the introduction.

Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary, and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the Poconos, when wild blueberry bushes teemed with succulent fruit and the opposite sex was as mysterious as space travel; another, hours of passion on a moonlit beach in Florida, while the night-blooming cereus drenched the air with thick curds of perfume and huge sphinx moths visited the cereus in a loud purr of wings; a third, a family dinner of pot roast, noodle pudding, and sweet potatoes, during a myrtle-mad August in a midwestern town, when both of one's parents were alive. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines, hidden under the weedy mass of many years and experiences. Hit a tripwire of smell, and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth.

The subject of this week's drawing challenge is smell and that made me hyper aware of all the magical scents I came across this week while the husband and I were off on a little journey to the Okanagan Valley. The term "spring is in the air" holds true while everywhere is fresh with new growth. I was thinking how odd it is that "good" smells can sometimes be bad and vice versa. For example my mother hated the smell of lilacs because she said they smelled like death. On the other hand she was an avid gardener and loved the smell of rich compost which, she said, smelled like new life. Go figure. I love the smell of the earth after rain (wet dirt) and the beach at low tide which, come to think of it, is mostly dead and rotting sea life and plants. And I love the smell of lilacs. Go figure.

So, as we left the sandy beaches of Skaha Lake (lovely swimming area for dogs) and headed on down the highway through beautiful Manning Park I realized that what I was smelling then, a shock to the olfactory receptors I can tell you, was one of the happiest scents in the world. Our soggy, sandy, satisfied dog had transformed that delicious NEW car smell into BOO car smell - making a lovely memory association that would last well beyond the holiday.

For more on the theme of SMELL visit Barbara's blog at

Saturday, 4 May 2013


The theme of this week's drawing challenge, proposed by Tania is a cheeky one (pardon the pun) - burlesque. I admit I was stumped. I tried first to do a cartoon of the queen of burlesque - Gypsy Rose Lee but she turned out cute and I'm sure the lady would have slapped my silly for portraying her that way. Then my sigot suggested that I look up the actual definition of burlesque. I discovered that it had little or nothing to do with what Hollywood had led me to believe. Why should I be surprised?
A parody or comically exaggerated imitation of something, esp. in a literary or dramatic work.
Cause to appear absurd by parodying or copying in an exaggerated form: "she struck a ridiculous pose that burlesqued her own vanity".
noun.  parody - travesty - caricature - skit
verb.  parody - mock - travesty - mimic

That sent me off in another direction that wasn't nearly as fun so I came back to audacious women and that led me back to the Mimis. I gave this one some gold stars because we all need a little approval (especially while strutting our stuff).

That seemed a natural segue to the books I have recently read by author Sue Bender and a quote that struck me solidly when I read it, "Maybe one of these days I'll be able to give myself a gold star for being ordinary, and maybe one of these days I'll give myself a gold star for being extraordinary - for persisting. And maybe one day I won't need to have a star at all."

My mimis are strong women and they don't need no stars to prove it so take it off Mimi, take it ALL off.

See Tania's blog for more participants in the weekly challenge.

Friday, 3 May 2013

freedom at last

And by freedom I actually mean wall space because I've had this big 48 x 48 canvas on the wall of my studio for, quite literally, years. At least two for sure and maybe more if I wanted to think about it which I don't. Suffice to say that I have been stumped on it for a very long time. The reason - 'cause I'm a dumbass sometimes and don't listen to the advice I would give to anyone who found themselves stuck on a canvas that isn't working because there is some aspects of a painting they like and so try to paint around it - gesso that sucker and move on. Thanks to my lovely friend Carole , who I called in fit of despondency, I ended up doing just that. Not only did I smack out the parts I had been clinging too but  I used a different approach to beginning anew, whacking on a bunch of black until some new forms started to take shape. Okay, I admit those forms didn't survive to the end but they helped direct the process and move it forward rapidly. And yes, I couldn't resist sneaking in some shadow of those bits I was attached to at the end but now they are a whisper rather than a shout.

Is it my best ever painting? No, I can already see a bazillion flaws but it was a breakthrough for me in terms of learning to paint large in a couple of ways. First, I realized that I was being far too precious with paint. Working from tiny tubes of expensive paint is inhibiting when buckets are required. Second, going back and trying to rework something I did ages ago could never have worked anyway because I'm not there anymore. For me to accomplish a large abstract it needs to be attacked with great enthusiasm and a sense of immediacy or it gets lost along the way.

Anyway, for good or ill, this one is done and gone, leaving a gaping hole that I can't wait to fill with another BIG problem oops, I mean canvas.
48 x 48 inches - mixed media on canvas