topiary cats

topiary cats

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Dry or Not to Dry

Oil paint can take a while to dry. Artists both love that and hate it. How to make the paint dry?  How to make the paint stay open?

In general, I don't add driers.  I'm happy with my paint touch-drying in three to four days.  I also like to keep my palette open, and adding driers makes that impossible.

Sometimes I need them though, like when I want to add another layer the next day.  Some of my Williamsburgs and Vasaris take FOREVER to dry- sometimes up to two weeks- without driers.  All my metallic paints take forever too, again sometimes two weeks. So I add driers all the time to metallics.

 Williamsburg Metallics take forever to dry

Williamsburg Cadmiums take forever to dry

Williamsburg Cobalts take forever to dry

Williamsburg Italian Earths do not take forever to dry, 
but earth colors generally don't anyhow.

Note 1: I got all of those above sets for 40% off. Each.

Note 2: if you can swing it, get the Williamsburg cobalt violet light.  It is one of the glowiest paints I have ever seen. The swatch on the tube doesn't do it justice.

Note 3:  I do not have the Williamsburg French Earth set, but I do have all the colors I like from their French Earth line. They are gorgeous paints.

I like to keep things simple.  Although I will experiment with everything (how else will I know what works and what I like, and what my options are?) I usually stick to linseed oil and solvent, or one alkyd. Gamblin's Galkyd makes me very happy because it smells like linseed oil, and I LOVE- absolutely LOVE the smell of linseed oil.

Some people like to use different "fatter" mediums in different layers.  I use the same medium throughout the whole painting, and I use as little as possible.

May is tomorrow! I'm ready for April to be over.

I have May Goals, because I need to keep myself moving.
1. Three finished paintings a week.
2. Books to finish: (I have several books going, have been bad at finishing any of them, though they are all good)
 -the book Daya and I are reading together
 -the Sonia Choquette book about El Camino de Santiago
 -the map book by Colette Baron-Reid
3. Draw a card every day from that fun deck I got which goes with the map book and think thoughts about it that no one will really care about except me but this is my blog.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Clever Discovery

I have a lot of pan pastels.  Actually, I have all of them.  Every single one. I started with a few then got some more, and some more after that, and then I COMPULSIVELY NEEDED all of them.

I am neither a color whore nor an art supply addict.

They are very pretty, right?

It took me years to get them all.  Years.

Anyhow, pan pastels come stacked in stackable screw-together plastic cases.  And I have sets which came with some of the Sofft Tools, also in the cases.  And the open stock pans come with extra casing. This makes travel with the pans very easy, but I have a lot of extra lids and plastic cases because I store them in the flat palettes pictured above.

HOWEVER I have found a brilliant use for these plastic cases with lids.... medium cups for oils!! Also ridiculously perfect for plein air. I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner.  I'm just slow sometimes.

Medium in the lids!!

Perfection.  And I can use a sharpie marker to mark which medium I have in each case or lid.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Un-Post

I ran out of blog posts.  So today will be an un-post, followed by regularly scheduled art supplies, cats, children, assorted brain droppings, etc.

In the meantime, here is Dru's favorite house in Hudson. It is purple which makes it automatically cool, and it looks like something out of an Edward Gorey illustration, which makes it completely badass.

I need to live in a purple house.

I need to figure out what I am doing in May.  My May meditation.  Aside from the mess of paintings I am working on.  I was going to add more layers last night to what I painted Monday, but the walnut alkyd is a slower drier than normal alkyd.  The paint is still very wet.  Usually when I add a drier it is touch dry within 24 hours.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Happy Mediums

Everyone always asks about mediums.  I have a bunch of them and I like them all. Some more than others.

Here are my mediums being happy.  Not pictured is my Canada Balsam; the stupid cats knocked everything over in my studio and I can't find three (3) size 6 long-handled color shapers, my Canada Balsam, and probably some more stuff I haven't located yet.

I am trying to pretend that it doesn't drive me batshit insane.

Anyhow, the Canada Balsam looks exactly like the Blue Ridge Copal except the words "Canada Balsam" are written on the bottle.

1. Liquin-  An old standard.  It's an alkyd which dries the paint.  It stinks and is toxic.  I'm done with Liquin because I like all things Gamblin better, and I like Gamblin's alkyds better.

2. English turps (real-deal turps)- a good thing to have around.  I don't use it much but some mediums require it, like resins.

3. Dammar varnish- I used to use this more, not so much anymore.  I will use a variant- retouch varnish- but I prefer Gamvar for my varnishing needs.

4. Spike oil of Lavender- it does not smell like lavender.  It smells like camphor.  It is a strong solvent, can be added to mediums, I don't use it much at all.  Jerry's has this new line of lavender-based solvents and they smell MUCH better than the stuff I have. (not really like lavender, but mildly pleasant) I didn't get any though, because I just don't need it,

5. Gamblin Cold Wax medium- I guess you could use this for thicker paint applications but I got it to make a more matte finish.  I usually prefer gloss but I like matte for the interference colors.  It's good to have options.

6. Neo-megilp- Gamblin's version of Maroger's, an alkyd but not nearly as unstable, expensive, and toxic as Maroger. It's a thick gel.

7 Galkyd (i have lite, it is thinner viscosity)- nice linseedy-smelling alkyd.  It is Gamblin, nothing nore needs to be said.

8. M Graham Walnut Alkyd- Carey told me to get it and if someone tells me to get something I will, and I LOVE it.  It is so nice and silky-smooth and wonderful.  Love.  Made with walnut oil, like M Graham paints which I also love.

9. Blue Ridge Copal- resin, dries the paint.  resins can add additional luminosity to the paint layers.  requires real-deal turps.  No mineral spirits.

10. Linseed oil- my basic  medium is half-half Gamsol (Gamblin's version of odorless mineral spirits) mixed with linseed oil.

11.  Oleogel- my FAVORITE medium.  Seriously, I love this stuff.  LOVE.  It is basically clear oil paint, made by Natural Pigments.  No driers.  Wonderful and silky and smooth and fantastic in all possible ways. I can't even describe how awesome this stuff feels under a brush.  The only thing is that it is the same consistency of paint from the tube- so if you need to make your paint looser then maybe use something else. I am very fortunate that a few stores here in NYC carry Rublev so I don't have to order online. :)

I do need to try Gamblin's solvent-free gel- I suspect it might be like oleogel, except Gamblin's is an alkyd which will dry the paint.  Sometimes I like that and sometimes I don't.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

When I Was Back There in Seminary School....

Haha.  The coolest thing about having gone to seminary is that I can say "When I was back there in seminary school...."

So, when I was back there in seminary school, there was a man, let's call him Alvin- who yelled at me once in front of the whole entire class regarding pagan religions.  Which was odd, it being an interfaith seminary and his wife headed up the pagan portion of the curriculum.  It was during the curriculum section on Judaism. I was all of 22 years old, in my pagan coven years, and I asked a question, I can't recall what it was- I believe it had to do with the clash of Jews and pagans in ancient times- but he responded by snapping at me in front of the whole room.  I was very taken aback, startled.  Actually, the whole room was startled. I didn't know how to respond so I just shut up.

His response had to do with yelling at me about pagan sacrifice of babies.  I had no idea what he was talking about.  All these years I still had no idea what he was talking about, but I recently found out by chance.  It's about Molech, who somehow I never knew about.  Obviously child sacrifice- as well as human and animal sacrifice- is a horrific practice.  We as humanity still need to evolve away from many horrific things, but thankfully child sacrifice isn't mainstream anymore.  Although it is not completely eradicated, believe it or not. Animal sacrifice is still rather prevalent on certain religious holidays in some sects of mainstream traditions- yes Alvin, YOURS- and also Santeria, for example.

For the record, while I am all about tolerance and respect, I'm not on board with any form of inflicting pain, bloodshed and/or death as a form of worship.

Humans do awful things.  We do awful horrible things as a collective under the guise of tradition, religion, out of ignorance, fear, desperation, and the need to control and dominate others.  It is nothing new.  It happens all over the world and has happened throughout all time.

I do not, however- oh please pardon this terrible pun- think it is necessary to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Horrendous human practices are not representative of entire traditions which also have many beautiful aspects.  Humanity corrupts things.  As we create, so we destroy.  We are capable of very high frequency and corresponding very low frequencies. There are nutjobs, and there are the rest of us.

So anyhow, this response is many years too late, 
but "Alvin", 
I did not deserve to be yelled at.

Jim agrees with me

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Bubble Wrap

Dear All NYC Residents,

It is commendable that you give your child something non-electronic to occupy them on the subway.  But for Gods' sake BUBBLE WRAP IS A VERY VERY BAD IDEA.

Seriously, what are you thinking?? FFS, NO!!

Love and hugs and venomous glares,

Friday, April 24, 2015

Cruel Hearts

"...treasure the fact that you have a heart that can feel,
because it's not a given here in life."

Huh. Carey wrote that in a comment to one of my posts earlier this week. And it's true, but I never actually thought of it in those terms.  I assume most people do have a heart that can and does feel.  Perhaps Carey is right though, maybe it is true that many people can't, or they have forgotten.  Or other things are more important.

It is true that there are cruel hearts everywhere.

Sometimes doing what we think is the "right" thing is most definitely NOT.  No matter how it may seem on the surface.  Carey's statement makes me think that we must be so careful with whom we closely engage our hearts, if we happen to have a sensitive heart.  It's probably a bad idea to engage a sensitive heart with a cruel heart.  That might seem like common sense but anyone who has lived even a little knows better.

Because I am a mom, I evaluate things in relation to being a parent.  That goes for monitoring my personal relationships, because I have to model for Daya.  I will not allow anyone to treat me in a way that I would not want Daya to let people treat her. Because I know she will see and learn from my example.  If I can't do it for myself, for some reason, I will do it for her.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Isolated Patterns

Last year when I was sorting through a few things, I was given some advice, a suggestion, which I struggle with.  But I am still turning it around, thinking about it, trying to see how to apply it.

Basically, in one (maybe two) areas of my life concerning people, things always seem to turn out the same. It's something I really struggle to understand.  The advice I was given was to not lump things together but rather see them as separate events which are isolated from each other.

The reason I have a lot of difficulty with this is because I am always, constantly, looking for patterns.  It's how I am hard-wired.  I look for patterns in repeating events, situation outcomes, my own thoughts and behaviors, Daya's patterns, patterns of light and shadow to compose paintings (even though I haven't painted in a while- I still am always painting and analyzing the world through my painter's mind), and behavior patterns in others.  I do this to either break or reinforce patterns over which I have control, or understand what to expect from people.

Everything is energy. I see energy patterns- sound and music too (it's called synesthesia).  I see energy patterns as intertwining layers of color and texture, kind of like threads or waves but not really.  It's very difficult to describe, and when someone is speaking to me, especially if they need help, I start seeing the threads and "patterns" of what they are saying, their situation, and reading it.  This can be difficult to translate into words.  It's a very abstract thing,  but it is how I see energy.  Stuff connected to other stuff.

Because I know that everything is interconnected, it is very difficult for me to isolate things and see them as un-related, especially if I think there is a pattern happening.  One-off moments can happen, we all have them, but when things start repeating it is a pattern.  Perhaps the advice I was given is true, and this inability to see things as isolated, outside of a pattern, especially when I perceive it to be the same result over and over, is to my detriment.

But I really want to understand why things keep happening.  Or not happening.

I might take a day to experiment by consciously suspending all my beliefs and believe something different for a day. See what that's like, how it feels, and if I am even capable of fully doing it. See if it even serves a purpose. Look at things differently .I can always revert back.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


I wish it was possible to love someone enough to make everything in their life better.  I wish just the state of loving someone could just...fix things for them.  Everything.  I wish it opened possibilities. I wish that, by itself, it led them down positive pathways.  I wish it could override all harm and negativity. I wish it could impart wisdom, clarity, and understanding. I wish it could result in their decisions being healthy. I wish it could make them really know, understand, and believe how much they are loved.

I wish it was enough just by itself, for the sake of itself.

It seems instead, that it makes no difference at all.

Sunset from a week or so ago

I feel like absolute crap. Very sad.  It's horrible and never-ending.  I live around it. But somehow I got FOURTEEN paintings- images and titles- yesterday.  Which is completely ridiculous and absurd. But it will keep me busy for a while. I have already started throwing some paint down.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gods and Our Energy Mix

Earth-based religions and all aboriginal traditions value the planet as a living, conscious entity that we're in a sacred interdependent relationship with; rather than a ball of inanimate stuff we can use and dominate.
                                        -Colette Baron-Reid

One of the reasons I gravitate towards the (so-called) pagan concept of different gods and goddesses is because they embody different energies which also exist in us, and in nature.  Often conflicting energies- paradoxes, simultaneously. Inclusive of masculine, feminine, and neutral energy. Storm and calm. Dark and light. Life and death.  Old Eastern religion/spiritual thought (Buddhism, the Tao, Hindu, Shinto, etc) also includes this. I like that, too.  Native American tribes also acknowledged these things.

The God-source, God/dess, Tao, Universe, Source, whatever you want to call it, is infinite- and part of that infinity includes one being many and many being one.  One Source, infinite energies.  Different facets on a jewel.  Or different leaves on the same tree.  All the different words which make up one book. One book which is part of a library.  One person as part of all connected humanity. And so on.

Anyhow, it is good to be able to see God as part of all energies, in everything, in everyone. In all parts of ourselves- if God is in everything, everywhere, then it is in us as well. In all aspects of Nature. In order to do that, it is helpful to see different faces or aspects of God. Not limiting it to one image, one concept.  How can the infinite be possibly be locked into one definition, one image, one concept?  I go back and forth a lot with relating to God as one whole, and "zooming in", so to speak, at specific faces.  It depends on where I am and what I need at the time. What I am called to.  Broad to specific. And back again. the macro-cosm to the micro-cosm.  It is all infinite.

All the mythologies which exist serve to help us relate to these different energies in a divine way, to learn from them as they relate to our own life circumstances.  It makes God very close and relate-able.  It is old collective energy. It is very much alive.

It is also important not to pigeonhole the way we expect God to be or appear, the defined concept of God. A rigid concept of God can become a false god, so to speak.  If you are looking for God, and expect it to appear a certain way, you'll probably miss it altogether.

"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."
                                   -Very Old Saying

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Heavies

I need a project for myself, and I'm thinking a month long thing during May.  An art thing.  What, I don't know but I have to keep myself moving.  This case of Spring Heavies that I've got is really bad this year.  It's like I am swimming on dry land.  Everything takes such effort. Constantly.

I can't think of anything to do about it that I'm not already doing....and then some.  So I just have to keep on.

This month-long project needs to be something fun but not too intense. I picked up a set of The Enchanted Map cards and the book by Colette Baron-Reid.  They looked interesting, and they are. Maybe I'll work with this deck, draw a card every day as a daily meditation.

Whatever the heck I signed up for in this life...sometimes I just really want to smack myself.  I go back and forth between trying to find/seeing a purpose, and NOT UNDERSTANDING and just feeling like something is really wrong with me and I'm completely abnormal.  But if there is something wrong with me -and sometimes I really think there might be- I can't find it (which doesn't mean it isn't there).  But there are things that I just don't get which seem to be no-brainers for the rest of the world.

I'm not at rock bottom, I just like this image.

Sunday, April 19, 2015


A friend forwarded me an email about free angel readings.  What the heck, it was free so I signed up. Of course the reading was total BS...I know this because for the fun of it I did it again with a different birthday and email...the Angel was different but the rest of the "reading" was exactly the same.

BUT- I discovered the angel Yelahiah (pronounced Yela-yah), the Karmic Warrior, Angel 44 in the choir of Virtue who apparently has something or other to do with the Physical for birthdays Oct 29th through November 2.  Well, that's me.  (I researched more and found there are other angels ruling intellectual and emotional as well)

Here's what my "free reading" (lol) said about Yelahiah:

Yelahiah is the Angel who embodies faithfulness. Faithfulness in the noble sense of the word. Faithfulness as regards values, faithfulness as regards the established order, as well as love, goodness, primordial wisdom, so that you may forge ahead, with a pure heart and your head held high, on the path to your destiny…

Thus, Yelahiah will inspire within you a sense of responsibility, of respect for your commitments. Yelahiah will also contribute to the balance and harmony between your divine “I” and your earthly “I”. This will result in greater open-mindedness and powerful perceptive abilities that can lead you to your objectives, whether these be personal or professional.

Yelahiah is also the Angel who embodies justice; his symbol is a sacred tree, the three branches of which are Truth, Freedom, and Justice… from Truth comes Freedom; from Freedom comes Justice. Yelahiah frees the oppressed, protects the innocent, and reveals the true, authentic facts. He protects lawmen and assists them in their quest for what is right.

Yelahiah also provides you with unexpected support when defending just causes. He lights the dark side of things, shows you the way you must follow, and escort you to the end of the tunnel.

Yelahiah develops your taste for discovery, impels you to move forward, straight to success.

Under his divine influence, you can get a kind of material success, mostly through “reparations” for some injustice you may have suffered.

He too is seen as the angel of pure souls. He symbolizes the return to the faith after a period of doubt. He releases the being and the soul of their bad thoughts and bad habits. Yelahiah is the angel of Purification. He opens new perspectives, changes minds, and upsets mindsets.

Yelahiah will also quash your doubts and decrease your anxieties. He gifts you with a quick and practical intelligence that allows you to multiply your odds of success in everything you undertake.

Here is another link with cool info

Here's another link

I think I really like Yelahiah. I relate to a lot of this.  So, while the "free reading" was total bunk, it was cool to learn about this Angel.

I do need angelic presence- especially in times like now where I don't feel connected to anything.  I just have to trust it is there regardless.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Incarcerated Topiary

This incarcerated topiary was spotted while walking in Hudson with Dru.  We are not sure what it did to get behind those bars but it must have been bad.  It's definitely not going anywhere.

Incarcerated Topiary

Friday, April 17, 2015

Spring Lows

This is a hard time of year for me.  Every year.  Nothing is wrong, in fact things are pretty fine for the most part, but the Spring blahs always hit me. Maybe it is something biological; I don't know. But for whatever reason, I have a heavy sadness. It's just something I maneuver around.

Apparently this is pretty common.  And May is the prime month for suicides.

Almost two years ago I had what might be the worst conversation in my life.  Or maybe a tie for worst, I can't decide. Someone just absolutely ripped me apart, out of nowhere.  While I was at work.  They knew exactly what they were doing; they admitted it while they were doing it. I was told, among other things, that I try so hard, I make such an effort with people, reaching out, but all I really do is embarrass myself.  Because I am ignorant about the proper way to go about things. So I try and try, I get it wrong and they are just completely embarrassed for me.  Anyhow, I reacted quite badly and it blew up two family relationships.  Pretty much the last two that were standing.

It caught me completely off-guard and messed me up for a really long time. I worked through it but I discovered it is still affecting me.

It has made me very gun-shy, so to speak.  I discovered this from- of all things- sending a gift card to someone for their birthday.  It's a distant acquaintance, someone I haven't seen or spoken to for a long time. But I wanted to do something nice for them.  Even though we don't have much contact, I care very much for this person's welfare and, well I just wanted to do something nice for them. That's all.

And I just can't help wondering if I have embarrassed myself.  I KNOW it is crazy and irrational. But there it is.  I know exactly where it stems from, I can analyze and understand it all I want- but it is still there.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Hudson: Olana

Olana was Frederic Church's house.

Dru and I went.  It was spectacular.  We went through the house tour.  The tour guide was....odd.  Very informative, but...odd.  Odd in an obsessive way.  No photography allowed.  No touching anything allowed.  No getting too close to the walls allowed. I got yelled at for accidentally stepping off the carpet.  All of this was reasonable except the no photography thing.

Of course I got some sneaky photographs in...

Here are my illicit photos!

 Dru looking pretty :)

 Frederic Church's paint box!

And his brushes!

The upstairs was closed when we went, so I have to go back.

The scenery up there is just gorgeous.  Here are some more pictures, all of them legally taken.  :)

And there were pretty tea sets too!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Knowing and Believing

I've come to realize there's a world of difference between knowing something happened, even knowing why it happened, and believing it.  Because when she cut off contact, yeah, I knew what happened.  But it took me a long, long time to believe it.

Some days, I still don't quite believe it.
                                    -from Where She Went
                                     by Gale Forman

You know how sometimes your mind and heart aren't quite in sync?  When your heart is going one way and your head another?  There's the old phrase "Follow your heart"...sometimes that is definitely the right thing to do and sometimes it is definitely not, depending on the situation.  Hearts are funny things.  Well so are minds, come to think of it....

The difference between knowing something (or not-knowing) and believing it can be so vast.  Belief can either be a liberation, a life raft, or the strongest prison.  It can be tricky to sort it all out.  Beliefs can be false; so can knowledge.  Both can also be true. Both can hurt, both can heal. They can both be empowering or dis-empowering.

While both knowledge and belief are strong, I think belief is a little bit stronger.  Minds are much easier to change than hearts. It can and will overrule knowledge. It will hang on long after knowledge has been assimilated.  It will reject solid knowledge if it wants to. Belief is where hope resides, whether it is false hope or true hope. It is also where faith resides.

Here is an excerpt from Mo's column this week:

Hope is that burning ember within us that urges us on, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Hoping for the best is what we do. Those of us with an interest in metaphysics are apt to embrace a philosophy of hope, because we know that everything can change, and often does.

The cycles of nature prove that hope is around us, every moment of every day. The return of the seasons, a withered plant revived, the blooming of flowers in the spring, all teach us that the potential for change is boundless. As long as we can keep our hearts and minds open, we can do almost anything we put our energy to.
Aside from being aware of our beliefs- those we choose and those which are instilled in us- it is important to periodically re-examine beliefs and make sure they are still relevant.  Letting go of beliefs can be scary as it is a falling away of structure- but as we grow in life experience, beliefs can also be outgrown.  It is important to make sure we control our own beliefs instead of letting someone else control and define them for us. I don't- er, believe- in holding on to beliefs just for the sake of them, because someone else tells you to believe, or simply because that belief has always been there.  They can be roadblocks and prevent us from expanding. 

Beliefs can also keep us hopeful in the most irrational of circumstances.

Sometimes I don't know if that is good or not.