topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, May 23, 2016

Competition Pics & Other Sundries

Here are some pictures from Daya's dance competition.
I did not take any of them.









**********
I cleaned Daya's room on Saturday while she was in team rehearsal.
Her room was pretty bad, and I knew she felt overwhelmed. So I fixed it.
She was very happy and she loves it.

I told her that keeping it up is very simple: garbage goes in garbage, put stuff away when you are done. (which includes laundry)  She likes to put things wherever, especially the floor, and that's the main cause of why her room gets so messed up. I keep telling her it's easy to just put things back where you got them. She says it is hard. (???) Then she says she doesn't understand the point of putting something back if she will just use it again.

Ummmm.... so you can find it? So your room stays neat?

Maybe this is just something she will have to grow into.

In the meantime, I enforce it everywhere else and I'll probably get on her case more about her room.
She has a wonderful room.  It's big and sunny and purple, hardwood parquet floor, and she has a nice dance corner with a barre, mirror, all her dance pictures on the wall.  Her night light is a 5 gallon fish tank. I tell her it is her space, I want it to be a happy room, one she loves and is proud of.  That taking care of it is loving her space and herself.

*********
I have been feeling remarkably better since that past life stuff came up.
Seriously much better, like something finally broke apart that I have had since (before) birth.
I feel different. In a good way.

So we'll see what happens.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pilot Light

Well, I'm supposed to do this painting so here it is.

Pilot Light
ACEO (2.5x3.5)
Pastel (unisons) on Colorfix


Saturday, May 21, 2016

Akashic



....there was a small child, about 4 years old, on the streets of a large busy city. London maybe, it could have even been here in NYC on the Lower East Side in the days of the tenements. (I have always had a fascination with the LES tenements)

The child was on her own, homeless. She may as well have been an orphan except her parents were still alive somewhere. She had been turned out to the streets and abandoned. Possibly turned away by more than one person.

There was nothing wrong with her, she hadn't done anything wrong, it was just her circumstance. She had absolutely no one in the world. Completely unwanted. So she wandered the streets but no one paid attention to her at all. She sat down and cried, and not one single person looked at her or gave her even so much as a crust of bread.

And THEN......

.......she died.
She died alone of hunger and exposure.

Her very last dying thought was, "I am worth less than the shit on the bottom of someone's shoe."

********
Cuti-citta, or death-consciousness, is the last conscious thought upon death.
Some say it impacts reincarnations.

***********
This past Thursday afternoon I was chatting with another artist on Facebook. (A pastel artist, she also went to Pratt)

She told me she was going on a call with an akashic records-reader-person who was offering free half hour readings to facebook followers. My friend said she really didn't know anything about it but it sounded interesting.

Akashic records are the database/record of the earth/us/everything

Well hell, it was free, why not?
I booked a call for Friday evening,
Honestly, I have had intuitive readings before- several actually.  Some were really helpful and accurate and some were nonsense and just dead wrong.

This was a good reading. Very helpful.
I didn't agree with everything 100%,.  Four years ago I would have agreed with the bits I disagree with now, though I do agree mostly.

That past life thing was what really matters and that is pretty much the ONLY thing that really makes sense of everything. And it really does make sense.

...........What an absolutely TERRIBLE past life!!!!!

It is true that I have experienced a disproportionate amount of abandonment and being completely alone. Abandonment from death is one thing; most of the time people don't choose to die.
When someone who is alive abandons you, it is worse in a way because it was their want and choice to do so.

It is true that I am still REALLY angry with my guides.
They know exactly why.

Anyhow the pattern and resonance of that horrible past life really resonates with me. I can see that pattern emerging over and over.

I came in with it.  I do NOT want it. I have been trying to get rid of it.

The absolute crappy thing is- and I know life isn't fair, but this is just REALLY not fair. It's nothing I have caused. There's nothing wrong with me.

But perhaps bringing this into consciousness and dismantling it will cause the energy shift I so deeply need and have been trying so unsuccessfully for so long to change. Because I have tried EVERYTHING and nothing has worked.

*******
If you want info on a reading go to Akasha Unleashed (facebook).
Direct website is here.
She is very good.
My free reading was supposed to be for a half hour but it ended up being 50 minutes.
At no time whatsoever did she try and sell me anything.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Black Mirrors

I went to high school with a woman named Stacey Dratch.
Recently we have re-connected on Facebook.

She posted something, said something in such a clear concise way, better than I have been able to say it:


People will inevitably apply their own 
angle, agenda, or motivations 
to your actions and words - 
this is how people reveal their true self
 to those who are paying attention.
                                                                                    - Stacey Dratch





This has been my experience more often than not.
It is the cause of 2 out of 3 best friend losses last year.

They both happened right around this time and I guess I'm still not over it.
Maybe that's silly but it really affected me.

It was just the final nail in the coffin, so to speak.
Year after year, one loss after another.
Relationship deaths.
No new life comes after.

It seems in this life I have no choice but to walk alone.
I have been alone from the start.  From day 1.
As difficult as it has been, I don't mind it- what I mind it that it persists past the point of teaching, of usefulness. After that point, which I am long past, it starts to cause only damage.  Erosion.

I have given up any hope that it will change.
No matter what I do, or do not do.
And I have no energy left.




Thursday, May 19, 2016

Surveillance

The surveillance is unnerving.
They are definitely judgmental, except for Furball.



Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I am so Dumb

I need a remedial course in Life.

So...Daya's June trip to Wisconsin got postponed.
Why? She has a dance team commitment
I cannot find the team calendar.
Anywhere.
I strongly suspect a certain 10-year old nabbed it.
That means locating it is utterly hopeless.

I had plans to visit Drusilla while Daya was away.
So I made an Amtrak reservation for Daya, too.
And I forgot about the dance team commitment, AGAIN.

What the heck is wrong with me??

Amtrak was really nice about it though. They must be used to dummies like me.

ALSO...before I got Daya from dance I stopped at the Japanese grocery.  They have some nice matcha pudding I have been wanting to try.

The last time I got some our bags got locked in the dance studio.

And wouldn't you know it, I LEFT MY BAG IN THE STUDIO AGAIN.

That matcha pudding is cursed or something. It seems I will never get to try it.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Mad: Fabric

This week was about fabric. Sort-of.
Carey is probably sewing, and she probably made something really cool.

For the fabric theme, I offer my Oily Rag.
It contains oil, pastel, acrylic, and possibly oil pastel too.

My oily rag is like my studio blankie. I don't really use paper towels like many people, because I prefer my oily rag.  It does a good job.
I have a bunch of them, and I change them out now and then.

Here is my current oily rag.



Monday, May 16, 2016

Competition

Yesterday Daya had her first dance competition.

She only danced in one dance but she. killed. it.

On a new stage, in with hundreds of strangers from many schools- I think mostly from Long Island.
Big flashy schools.

In comparison, Daya's studio is small...but they are so amazing.

Seriously, I was just overwhelmed watching her.  She turns into a different person on stage...Stage-Daya. She is incredibly commanding and precise.  She has such presence. Commanding stage presence.

She does work very hard at technique etc but stage presence isn't really a thing you can practice at home. She was just so good.

No photos or video allowed, but she will do the dance for recital.





Some kind friends drove us out to Long Island.
We were parked next to this person.

Well ok, then.

When we got home Daya had to wash off her makeup and wash her hair.
There was so much gunk in her hair it stayed in place by itself.
Daya thought it was hilarious and insisted I took pictures.


Sunday, May 15, 2016

Medusa

Here is a painting I have worked on over the past week.
I got the image while coming home on the train after work

Medusa gave me a bit of a hard time.  We had a fight, because of communication issues.  Meaning she wasn't communicating properly. But we worked it out and the third time I did her snake hair worked. Also, I didn't use any reference which always makes things harder.

I learned a lot doing this painting.

Medusa
9x12 pastel on pastelmat


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Gigantor

Drusilla has the biggest rat in the world.
Fittingly, he is named Gigantor.

When people say, "That rat was as big as a cat!" they are talking about Gigantor.
Seriously, he is ENORMOUS and I love him madly.

If he wasn't so incredibly lazy he would rule the world, but he can't be bothered.

Gigantor
ACEO 2.5 x 3.5 (times three)...(he would not fit on one card)
pastel
colurfix primed bristol




Friday, May 13, 2016

A Great Find

Jerry's has Colourfix ACEOs!

I guess they go pretty fast because they are out of stock a lot.  Good thing I have my jars of Colourfix primer!



**********
This has been a really hard week and I'm glad it is coming to a close.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Not Photogenic

Isis is a very pretty cat but she takes terrible pictures.
We take pictures anyhow.

She makes up for all her terrible pictures with her extremely loud rumble-purr.





Wednesday, May 11, 2016

I Knead an Eraser

I got my first kneaded eraser when I was nine years old (4th grade).  It came in a General's drawing set, which had some pastel pencils, different graphite pencils, charcoal pencils, a sharpener, and.....hey guess what, they still make it!

It is exactly the same!


I LOVED that pencil set, and I still have quite a few of the pencils!

Of course I brought my set to school and someone stole my kneaded eraser.

Through the years I have had many kneaded erasers. I have only used one to the point of non-usability once. They pretty much last forever, or until they get too much charcoal in them and they make lines instead of erasing them.

The biggest danger to kneaded erasers is getting lost.  And cats.  Cats like to play with them- bite them, roll them around. If you drop them in pencil shavings and they somehow get really squished down and embedded, it's just easier to get a new eraser than pick out all the wood shavings. That's more unusual though; mostly they get lost.

Kneaded erasers smell WONDERFUL. I have always loved pulling them apart very slowly so they turn into a very soft velvety rope and smelling them.


They smell soooo good and are so soft when pulled apart

I have a lot of kneaded erasers because I kept losing them. So I would pick up another, And then I would find them, then lose them, then pick up another one...and so on. But since my studio has been nice and organized, my kneaded eraser has been living nicely on my easel tray, except when a cat gets to it.

And the spares all live together, too. My current working eraser is the one on the bottom right.


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Mad: NIRNROOT

This week's theme is NIRNROOT!
I have been so excited for nirnroot!

Nirnroot is a plant which is found in Skyrim. It glows and emits a cool sound.
There is regular nirnroot and crimson nirnroot.

There is a book called The Spirit of Nirn.
I did a cover for it.
Daya loves the nirnroot so I hung it by her computer.

The Spirit of Nirn
9x12 pastel on pastelmat



I used all kinds of pastels- Derwent pastel pencils, semi-hard pastels, panpastels, and soft metallic pastels (senns).

....I think I have an addiction to pastelmat, it is such amazing paper.......the surface is textured with vegetable fiber and the way it holds the pastel is just so wonderful.  It is not a sanded paper and it doesn't eat up the pastels, but it holds them and can take many layers. It feels soooooo nice.

It is expensive. I bought a pack a while ago and have been using it sparingly...but I was in Jerry's a couple of weeks ago and IT WAS ON SALE at $25 for a 9x12 pack of 12 sheets!!!!

Carey also loves nirnroot.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Hit


But if there's on thing in my life
that these years have taught
it's that you can always see it coming
but you can never stop it
                         -Cowboy Junkies

So-called "special" days and holidays hit me hard in a very bad way, and it isn't something I seem to have any control over.  It just happens and it is very hard to get through. It's getting worse and worse every year.  It starts a few days before, no matter what is going on or not going on. I wish I could stop it, make it stop, make it go away, but I cannot. It hits and I cannot get out of the path no matter what.

It's bad.

I am over-encumbered, and have been for far too long.  I have already dropped everything that can be dropped but it didn't make a difference.

*****
I posted an article on Facebook yesterday to acknowledge that not everyone shares in the experience of having a great mother. Someone messaged me privately to say thank you, that it meant a lot to them to see that even though they weren't going to "like" it publicly for personal reasons.

I guess that's why I stick so much of my personal stuff out there, because we are so inundated with affirmations, positive memes, expectations to feel/react in certain ways, and so many people are really struggling.  It's good to encounter things to relate to instead of someone telling you to think positive bullshit thoughts.

Empathy.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Stellar Parenting

Daya is driving to Wisconsin with Branwen and Branwen's cats next month.
I mentioned this to someone at work, and they asked, "Where in Wisconsin?"

Huh. I never did find that out, other than "Branwen's parents' farm."

So I said, "I don't know."

Then later the same day, Daya called from dance and said her senior trip was on the same day she was supposed to leave.

I called Branwen to see if she would be willing to leave one day later.  (Yes)
Branwen asked, "Where is the senior trip?"

Huh.  I didn't know that, either.
I do know I paid $65 for it though.

So I said- again,  "I don't know."

This is stellar parenting.
Role model material.

*****
I have since found out that the senior trip is to Medieval Times, which I think is somewhere in New Jersey.

I still don't know where in Wisconsin Daya will be, except that it will be on a farm and I am really jealous because I, too, want to go to a farm in Wisconsin.

The road trip part I am happy to skip.

But I !LOVE! farms and farm animals and horses!! and I want to go hang out in a cheeze cave.

****
Also, fuck Mother's Day. It's stupid.
The only thing stupider than Mother's Day is Father's Day.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Always Welcome

This tea truck was in my neighborhood.
That is the perfect place for it to be.


A Tea Truck!

Friday, May 06, 2016

Prayer Dream

I had a dream about prayer.
In the dream, I was speaking to a woman about prayer and types of prayer.
How people pray.

The conversation was about prayer as praise/worship, and that I dislike it.  I was telling this to the woman. How prayer to essentially tell a god "You are so great, you are so fabulous! Praise (whoever)!" just seems a little... odd... to me.

Guidance and gratitude.

Those resonate with me.

And then in my dream, I thought maybe I should blog it.

So I did.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

10 Years

As of May 1st, I have officially been at my job for 10 years.

I am very grateful for my job- it is a very good situation. It has been an interesting 10 years here- some bumps along the way, but for the most part it has been very good. I have learned a lot. I am good at my job and while sometimes it can get boring, I'm not complaining.

It is flexible- I do keep my office hours and I do my work- but no one is tracking what time I come in and leave, I can work from home, I can run errands/do what I need to at lunch, or just hole up at my desk. The people I work with are good people. There is excellent work/life balance. I get a LOT of vacation time.

My job has a very low stress level for the most part, and I need that. In itself, the low stress of my job is a great blessing.

Before I came up to Times Square I was downtown in the financial district. I liked it down there a lot. Times Square is a completely different vibe. But for 10 years now, Times Square has been my stomping ground and I will admit I'm a bit spoiled because of it.

Restaurant Row is right here.
All the shopping is right here.
I have THREE art supply shops within 15 minutes of my desk. (That might not be so good.....ummmm....)
My commute is great.
I have 24/7 building access which means clean nice bathrooms for me and whoever I am with when out and about.
Central Park is super close.

The scariest thing about Times Square is the sheer number of Elmos (and other assorted creepies) on every corner. They are one of the reasons I am not really scared of anything, because I have already been through so much Scary Shit. And a cluster of six Elmos on the corner is truly terrifying.

If my future self in 10 years said to me, "You will still be here in another 10 years," that would be just fine.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Many Thousands

How?
I don't know.
No idea.
Two years.
Many thousands.

It starts next Monday.

I cry.


**********
I really don't like having to shoulder 100% of everything.
People say, "Oh, but aren't you proud of yourself for doing such a great job?"

No. It's a brutal circumstance on so many levels.
It is not good.
I do what I have to do because there is no other choice.

Emotionally, physically, financially, logistically, everything.
It's scary and daunting to look at the parenting road ahead, and I have no one to share that with, or talk about it with.
If I need answers I have to find them on my own.
There is no assistance or support, relief, or comfort.
Most people doing this solo-parenting thing either have family, a significant other, or an ex involved.
I have never encountered anyone else on this solo-parenting road who has none of those.

It's not right but that doesn't matter, I have no choice.
It just really stinks and I'm so worn out.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Mad: Spiral

Carey and I are spirals this week. Spiraling out of control, perhaps.

Technically mine are double helix-es (helices?) but who cares.  That's a kind of spiral right?

Core
9x12
pastel on pastelmat



I found a new type of pastel to be mad about.  Mungyo semi-hard pastels.  Mungyo is a Jerry's brand. They are really inexpensive and the colors are lovely. I guess these are like Nupastel, which I do not have and now I probably need. Seriously, I LOVE working with these. An added plus is they aren't very dusty.

In the world of soft pastels, there are varying degrees of softness. These are on the harder end, maybe a little harder then Rembrandts, I need to get some Nupastels to compare them.

Senns, Unisons, etc are really soft. These are much firmer in texture making them fantastic for under-painting and lower layers, as well as detail work.

This is very parallel with oils, where lean (less oil) paint is used in the under-layers and fatter (more oily) paint is used over leaner layers. (Especially when applying wet paint over wet paint.) In pastel layers, layering a softer pastel over a harder pastel works very well.

Monday, May 02, 2016

That Time Again....

Dance pictures.
Recital.
Competition.
Daya has 8 costumes this year.
8!!
They cost a small fortune.
The pictures will also cost a small fortune....but it is one of those things you just have to do.



Sunday, May 01, 2016

Matters of Scale

Am I tiny or is Kitty huge?

Or perhaps both?



OMG it is May.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Dusky Clouds

Here are some dusky clouds.
ACEO
pastel on colorfix primed bristol


Friday, April 29, 2016

Goodwill or Contempt

"The way to love someone is to lightly run your finger 
over that person’s soul until you find a crack, 
and then gently pour your love into that crack."
                                                                                            - Keith Miller

Goodwill or contempt.
This is something I practice a lot. Very, very consciously.

Mostly with strangers.

I believe that a vital part of spiritual practice is to cultivate peace and goodwill towards others no matter how we may be feeling personally. And it takes constant awareness and practice.
It's not easy at first but it does get easier with practice.

It is done by observing how you react to strangers you encounter in normal ordinary situations.  Your thoughts. How you regard them, especially knowing absolutely nothing about them. If you offer more contempt than goodwill, remind yourself gently to offer goodwill instead.  

It does work, and it does change your approach and attitude towards others.
In turn you will find yourself less stressed or annoyed.

We all know the phrase "peace on earth and goodwill to men."
It is a daily spiritual practice in the small mundane moments.



Thursday, April 28, 2016

This is True


There will likely be times in your life 
when your soul evolves more quickly
than your circumstances.
                                           -Daily OM

*******
Yeah, This is true and I have felt like this for a very long time.
I honestly feel like my current life circumstance isn't teaching me anything and it hasn't for a while. I have mentioned this before.  Actually, I think at this point it is a hindrance.

But it doesn't change no matter what I do or do not do, and I cannot figure out why and it is extremely frustrating.

Mostly, it is just exhausting and I feel incredibly worn down.

*****
I was speaking with a friend the other day about something she is dealing with concerning her son. Hard stuff.  Really hard stuff.
She has tried everything and then some.
For YEARS.
It didn't work.
She just has to let the situation be what it is, and that's hard.

I can relate to that.

There comes a point when, after everything has been done that could be done, people don't need advice. They don't need or want other people giving them "answers" or suggestions. They don't need people judging them. Evaluating. Analyzing. Trying to fix.  Others thinking they know your life better than you do. That they know something you don't already know. That they have the answers you don't have. That if you would do what they say, think what they think, it would get better.

What is needed in these circumstances is just listening and acknowledging. Empathy. Acknowledging that it's hard, too hard- and there's just nothing else to be done and that really sucks and it hurts.

*******
If you break your arm, no one is going to tell you that you can choose whether or not it hurts.
It is the same with our spirits, feelings, and hearts.

As with physical injuries, emotional injuries are greater and lesser degrees.

It is true that some people want to wallow and be victime but most don't- they are really trying to move forward. They might not know how to, and if that is the case they will look for help. But sometimes nothing works, despite trying everything. And you just have to endure whether or not you want to.

We can certainly choose how we deal with it in the sense of whether we become bitter and take it out on others (or ourselves), or if we maintain a kind heart and an open, gentle spirit.

But either way, the situation is still crappy and it's absolutely ok to just call it what it is.
Without being judged.

Empathy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Mad... ! ...Gradient

The theme this week is my fault.
I chose it because I wanted to finish my lobster, and he has a nice gradient.
But I did not finish my lobster, or even work on him.

Since I finished my cloud trees I'm ok with that though.

Instead, here is a door in a tree with..... a gradient!
This is 4"x4" black paper....those "Artist Tile" thingies.  It's really just pre-cut 4x4 black paper.
Derwent Colorsoft pencils

I like working on black and I like Derwent Colorsofts. They are super smooth.
They show up on black much better than Inktense, and they are not water-soluble.
You could probably use a little solvent with them though, but I didn't.




Carey has gradients, I bet they are really nice, too. Carey makes great gradients.

** When it is my turn to pick a theme again, I have the BEST THEME already picked out!
And you'll just have to wait!

Monday, April 25, 2016

A Finished Painting! Whoa!

It's finished!
Finally!

This painting just wasn't working which was why I avoided it for so long.
It started out really ugly and stayed that way for a long time.

Yesterday I said I was going to finish this thing no matter what.
I brought out the vintage WN pastels from Dru...


I really like these pastels.
So I worked and re-worked with my kneaded eraser and now it is finished and I feel very relieved.
The painting is also relieved to be finished. It was worried about its sorry existence there for a while.


Cloud Trees
12x18
pastel on Mi Tientes



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Cool Books From My Library

I have a lot of books.

There are many people with a lot more living space who have larger libraries than mine, but I still have a lot of books. Easily in the thousands.

I do have a very excellent art book collection.

These days my fiction-reading is all on kindle (I had to go electronic to save space, no regrets) but I get all my art books in physical copy.  (Cookbooks too.)

Here are five cool art books.

**********
Herbs for the Medieval Household
I got this book back when I worked at the Met in college.  it came with a companion book about medieval households, which is also on my shelf, right next to this one.




**********
This is an art book of a game. 
I FREAKING LOVE THIS GAME.
The art is just awesome.

I happen to love concept art, and I tend to pick up art books for games, films, etc if I like the art style.
This one is one of my favorites.











***********
Harold Speed.
Classic.
Enough said.


**********
This is a book which deals with visual storytelling through composition.

It.
Is.
Awesome.

I have yet to see another book which deals with non-verbal communication through two-dimensional composition as in-depth as this one does.







*************
I had this book when I was in elementary school.  It was one of my first drawing books. The copy in my library is not the same copy I had-- but I found it a few years ago, happily!
I LOVED this book (still do) and spent many hours with it as a child.

The dimetrodon was always my favorite.





Saturday, April 23, 2016

Pebbles Says...

Afternoons are made for napping.


Friday, April 22, 2016

MAC Cosmetics Resumed Animal Testing

Ok, so I just found out that MAC cosmetics has resumed testing on animals.

Because of China.
I am so angry.
Principles melt away in the face of $$$$$$$$.
Greed.

In order for these atrocities to change, they must not be supported.

I'm sorry MAC, I liked you (Though I love Urban Decay more) but I am done with you.
Animals are more important than my makeup.

Urban Decay made the decision to not sell in China because of animal testing.  They stood by their beliefs when the time came to prove it.



ALL animal testing MUST stop.


You can check your products here (2016).

A comparison graphic here (2016).

I found some surprises and I'm pretty mad about it.
Boscia, Origins, Fresh.......excellent products I really love. CRAP.

I am going to use what I have because it is here already but I will NOT repurchase until these companies change.

Many brands that did NOT test on animals 
quietly started again.

And it is all because of Chinese laws and $$$$$$$$$$.