topiary cats

topiary cats

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


There is a painter named Ryan O'Rourke who does 10 minute acrylic painting demos on youtube. And they are pretty good!  He knows his theory, he knows what he is doing, and his 10 minute paintings are pretty cool!

Doing timed paintings isn't a new concept.
A lot of people have done this as a way to practice and get the mind shifted into a different gear. Some people limit the number of brush strokes instead of time- for example, doing a painting in only 120 brush strokes.

Because I have a terrible obsession with oil paint and pastels, it stands to reason I am also fully stocked in acrylics which is good because when I need them I'm ready to go. Last night I brought out my acrylics and did a little 10 minute painting which took 14 minutes and 45 seconds.

It is such a small time investment, and truly a mental flip. While it will never replace longer studio paintings it really is fantastic artistic exercise. I guess these could also be done in pastel, and probably oil because nothing is impossible, but the acrylic drying time is a huge advantage with layering.

With this painting, I chose a color scheme ahead of time which was fun but also maybe not the best decision because I made the composition up as I went along.
It would have been better to know my composition beforehand.

This painting is not a good painting but I don't care. It was good practice and good to try something new. My coordination isn't there yet but with some practice it will be.

5x7 acrylic

Today is the summer solstice.
I'm going this afternoon to light soome candles.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yellow Wood

Here is a painting I started a while ago. Last month probably.  It got finished Thursday night and I'm now just posting it.

9x12 pastel on Mi Tientes.(smooth side)
The paper is a lovely yellow ochre, pretty much the yellow of the sky though I put pastel over it.
I like working on different colored grounds.

This painting is a continuation of Adventures in Smooth Pastel Paper.  Mi Tientes is a smooth paper which I have so much of and always ignore in favor of my sanded and textured papers.  Smooth paper is just different but I'm working on making friends with it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flip: Broken

The theme Broken is in honour of Carey's fridge, which was in a broken state more than any fridge has a right to be.

ACEO 2.5x3.5 pastel on bristol with Golden pastel primer.


Carey's Fridge Tribute is here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

4 Things

Thing 1
I'm still feeling better but it feels tenuous and fragile.
The noise from upstairs is a bad trigger, when it happens, and anticipating it,
I wish it wasn't and I don't know how to minimize how it affects me.

I got a really LOUD industrial floor fan, which Daya has named Fran.
I love Fran. Fran is awesome.

It all seems petty and silly and small and ridiculous until I search for solutions online and find so many other people who have the same intense reaction.

Thing 2
I have made a decision to not acknowledge Fathers Day.
The last time I saw my father was for a couple of hours four years ago.
We haven't had any contact since last October.
Daya also has no contact.  She stopped crying for him about it a year and a half ago and the last thing I need is to re-open that issue.  It was bad, very bad, for years.

It is obvious he has no interest whatsoever in any type of involvement in my life or Daya's, so I need to stop doing old habits and things which hurt me.  I have to let it go. I'm not angry, but I am sad. It is sad and anyone in my place would be sad about it because that is a normal human reaction.

For several years now I have been very seriously wondering if I will ever see him again.  As far as I know he is and has been in good health, and he lives the distance of a 2 hour flight away. I did tell him I would like to see him but all I got was a response that they are busy and have no plans to come up to the northeast.  I am not welcome to visit them. Daya went three years ago and they showed her a great time then never asked her back.

There is no relationship.  Everything about it from his end and mine is old and very outdated- nothing current because there has never been enough contact, no life overlap, and he isn't interested in building that. It is why the relationship failed. There is nothing of the present in it. So I'm done walking in old empty meaningless patterns.

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not ever see him again though I would have chosen differently. One day I'll probably get a letter in the mail telling me he has passed on and I will not inherit anything. This is sad but I will let it be and let it go.

Thing 3
Daya is miserable because there is no dance for two weeks.
She is impatiently waiting for school to be over...June 29th I think is the last day.

We never got a pointe shoe email that her teacher said would be sent out right after recital. Daya's ballet teacher mentioned there is no reason Daya shouldn't be in pointe shoes, and she was going to talk to the prepointe teacher but we have heard nothing.  So Daya is dealing with failed expectations and extreme disappointment- some of them her own possibly of her own making and some were set by her teacher.  She just wants to know, she is a kid, she is excited, she has been working so very hard.

I told her to adjust her expectations to hear something around her birthday but Daya is a stubborn obsessive Scorpio (like me) and changing her mind is just hitting a big brick wall.

Thing 4
Today I am starting to go through A Course in Miracles.
It's something I have known about and been aware of for the last 20 years, and I studied it a little in seminary, but it never called to me.  Now it is.  Interestingly, I got both the physical copy and the audio copy for free, which I appreciate. So it is time I guess. I suspected one day it would be.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Today is the first day I have been feeling mostly back to normal since Memorial Day weekend  Two weeks ago.

Everything hit me in a big crashing wave over Memorial Day.  Just cumulative life stuff.  It was bad.  And that horrible anxiety chest/solar plexus pain came back...constant and intense. Today is the first day in two weeks I have gotten relief.

My upstairs neighbors were quiet for a while then started BLASTING their stupid party music...three days in a row....that was a week ago.
I spoke with the landlord.
The piano next door is still a huge bother.
There is stuff I have been sifting through about my father which I don't want to write about and it is sad stuff but not new or life-changing.
I lost my desk at work... I got displaced because of new people moving onto the floor.  My awesome sunny wonderful space that I loved so much.  I have a new desk and it is crappy and loud and the location is terrible.

This year in particular I have been really struggling with this awful painful chest anxiety- and it isn't something I can control at all.  Prayer and meditation doesn't help. Yoga doesn't help. Physical activity doesn't help.  Nothing helps.  Even spending time with Rob- nice good times- doesn't even relieve it.  It's just constantly there until it isn't, much like a physical injury which hurts until it doesn't anymore.

I'm at such a loss of how to deal with it, and it lasts for such a long time- weeks.

Perhaps I'm just at a point of being completely worn down and I don't have any internal buffering or stamina left.  That happens to bodies physically from trauma/wear, so it makes sense it can happen internally as well. 
I think that is what has happened.

Daya did amazing at her recital.
We still haven't heard about her pointe shoes and she is miserable.
The girls she is with in dance have not been very nice to her lately.
I hate that she is miserable.
Sometimes she takes her misery out on me and sometimes she looks for connection.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FLIP: Shoes

Poor Daya has been pining for pointe shoes- badly.  She still has to wait a little while, we are waiting on teacher approval, but I gave her this painting for her room, so she has her own pair of pointe shoes like only her mom can make.  :)

9x12 pastel (mostly Unisons) on pastelmat (it was grey)
About 2 1/2 hours

What a surprise this morning, my pastel plein air painting from a couple of weeks ago was featured iin a Sennelier article!! Wow!!  Thank you Sennelier!
(they also called me young so I love them)

I'm telling you, my pet Central Park raccoon was good luck!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Remove the Blockades!

It happened right in front of my office, and we were on emergency lockdown.
It was a horrible thing for sure but now, Tuesday, the New Years blockades are still up and there is a group of armed police with huge guns standing outside.

Take the New Years Blockades Down!

What happened was awful but there is absolutely no need for this nonsense.
It was such a freak thing- a guy bent on a suicide mission taking people with him. An American from the Bronx who wanted the cops to shoot him.

Times Square is a really safe place..... what that Bronx guy did could not be predicted nor prevented and these blockades just promote some kind of police-state fear mentality.

Security here has always been amazing.
Freak things can happen. ANYWHERE.
Driving on the highway is a very dangerous thing to do--- far more so than walking around in Times Square.

Besides, the blockades are only on one block...someone could drive up 8th ave and do the same thing.  You can't blockade the whole city nor is there any reason to.

This stuff happens all over the country--- hell, all over the world.....and I dislike anything that promotes irrational fear and underlying panic. And traffic jams.

Times Square is no less safe because of one person's stupid suicide attempt.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pastel Paper Test

I have been working on sanded paper so much lately, especially for plein air.  The Richeson sanded paper I love so much is really gritty.  It is a lot grittier than Colourfix and even Uart.

Sanded papers are great because they take so many layers- which is good- but when I was out painting the other day I was thinking about clouds on sandpaper vs a smooth paper.

I have a whole lot of nice pastel papers (all surfaces) but in particular I haven't been such great friends with Mi Tientes.  But there are effects that night be easier with a smooth paper, though it definitely doesn't take the layers.

Here is a little experiment just for workflow and feel.
Less than a half hour.

9x12 pastel on gray Mi Tientes, smooth side.

For mother's day I did 5 loads of laundry.
Daya didn't acknowledge the day at all, which honestly would have been nice but that's how it goes, and these kinds of society-attention days shouldn't matter.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FLIP: Spike

Once every several years or so I get a short-lived but intense urge to use watercolor.

I always start out well enough, nice and light and transparent- and then I muck the whole thing up.  This got mucked up mostly because I changed my mind about the colors, and you can't really do that with watercolor without having to start over.

But then Carey moved and we took a Flip break and during that time my watercolor urge passed. I didn't worry too much about the mucky state of the painting because that's why I have clear gesso, which is lovely and toothy under pastels.

5x7 watercolor and pastel (mungyo semi-hards)
on watercolor paper (strathmore for the paper geeks)

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

My Pet Central Park Raccoon

I went up to the reservoir yesterday to paint some clouds.
They would not stay still, not at all so I had to settle on a composition and just kind of fudge it.  The sky went from all grey overcast to clear.

8x10 pastel on black richeson sanded paper

There is a running track around the reservoir where the Manhattan after-work crowd goes to run, jog, walk, whatever.  I have a spot up there which is on the running track but tucked away next to the gatehouse building at the top, so I am not in anyone's way.

People were overwhelmingly friendly- many people either stopped to say hi and say something nice about the painting, or they yelled out something nice as they ran by.  Even when my painting went through a *really* ugly stage.

I was so involved in my painting I didn't notice the raccoon who kept coming over to sit by my feet- on the running track.  Four people stopped to tell me he was there, which scared him off.  I finally saw him when he came back again, and he was big and fluffy and cute.

Here he is, running away- I couldn't get any other pictures of him.

Everyone was out yesterday.  The raccoon, dogs, and horses.




Sky pics


I thought the raccoon thing was cool because I started reading a book on St Francis yesterday, and this arrived in the mail:

Monday, May 08, 2017


It is true that I haven't been blogging as much lately and I'm also not productive at the easel. Not lately.

Carey has been in a long moving process so our weekly FLIPs have been paused, and will hopefully resume soon.  I am planning to go out painting after work tomorrow.

Throughout this whole year I am noticing a gradual shift, some of it natural and some of it unwanted.  I will be 40 this year and I feel a transition happening. This is a natural part of life.  What I don't like is my over-sensitivity to anxiety which seems to be a new thing.

Unwanted noise in my home is my kryptonite.
It really, really throws me off, even anticipation of it.
Even when all is well..... that's a bit crazy isn't it. Silly, even.

I am starting to become concerned more than I ever have been about the years to come- basic stuff, like living situation.  There is no problem with where I am now.  Actually, it is a very good situation. But I worry about long-term maintenance. And worry is a huge misuse of imagination.

The thing about all of this is that I need to re-align to all the things I have learned up to this point in my life.  All of it is just fear.

Why is it, even armed with awareness and the knowledge of how to connect, that it is difficult to stay connected to a place of Source? With the knowing that everything is being handled?

Caroline Myss said that one of the universal experiences of growing spiritually is having gone through time alone, sometimes a lot of it. I have written about that before- but I still have thoughts around it that I need to change when I feel sad. So instead of thoughts around having been alone, I am thinking instead "I have not been alone; I have just spent a lot more time with god,' which is true.

I am not sad that my mother isn't in my life,
No one knows where my sister is, as far as I am aware no one has heard from her for years and I am at peace with that, too.

But I do get sad about my father sometimes.
The situation won't change so I need to rearrange myself to be in peace.
The truth is that I have managed just fine without his presence or assistance.
I do not actually need it.
Would it have been nice to have that relationship, assuming it is a positive one? Yes.  However, he is his own father. I have to release it in peace.

What I want to say about this is that it is a process and a practice. A practice that needs to be- well, practiced.

Living in a state of anxiety is not living in god-realized consciousness.
It shouldn't be challenging but it is, which means I need to practice.

I AM THAT I AM is the greatest spiritual truth/secret/teaching.
It is the most powerful thing in existence.
Conscious alignment requires constant diligence and daily practice.

I might need to implement a morning and evening practice, because I need to maintain conscious alignment.

I need to remember that I have been on this Path consciously from the start- since I was a small child. I need to remember that I have always been taken care of.
Perhaps somewhat unconventionally, but it is true.
Two people have told me on two separate unconnected occasions that I have divine protection- which is good because I have needed it.
I need to release the how and just know all is and will be well.

I need to remember that because I have been walking a Path of conscious alignment for my whole life, this will continue and the way will unfold in a positive benevolent way.

It is practice.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

T-shirt Womb

When Daya performed at Barclays Center they gave out t-shirts. 
One size: HUGE!

She wears hers and probably mine too (i dont know which is mine; neither i suppose) around the apartment and also as sleepwear. 

Tonight she discovered she can fit her entire self inside the t-shirt. 
She called it a womb. 

I might have to see if I can also fit inside the t-shirt.
Maybe I am not quite as flexi-bendy but we are both basically the same height so it might work.

Yes Daya still has fleece snowflake sheets on her bed because she loves them that much. For the record Jackie loves her fleece sheets so much she also uses them year-round. 

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Tuesday to Tuesday

I know my blog got neglected for over a week. That's longer than usual...just haven't been able to muster up the effort.

Tuesday: Drusilla came to the city and I took a day off.  It rained all day so we drank sake and went to the museum of natural history to see the mummy exhibit, which was very good.  There was absolutely no photography allowed so of course I got some good pictures.  Only got yelled at once.

Weds-Thursday: It's that time of year for dance placement auditions for next year.  Daya is eligible to apply for a solo/duet/trio. I refuse to pay for it because 1) I can't and 2) I'm actually not willing to put extra money on top of the already significant monthly dance allotment.  Especially since Daya has now started tutoring in the neighborhood...she's really good, too, and cheaper than the college kids.  She has her first client and has already worked 5 hours. So if she does extra she has to pay for it.

Friday: Rob has a favorite restaurant in Williamsburg.  We go there a lot, which I like because they have all my favorite stuff.  It is an Asian-themed place, really beautiful inside- sushi, Thai, rice, noodles, Rob's favorite orange chicken....and we found out they shut down as of this past Sunday.  So last Friday was our last night at Hachi.  Sad.

Saturday: Daya had a HORRIBLE day. A Thunderstorm woke her up at 5:30am.  She hurt herself (she's ok) in her acro class. She had her team placement audition which she said she messed up badly. She forgot her keys and locked herself out....and I wasn't home because I was in Manhattan for a co-worker's choral concert.  So I told Daya how to climb the fire escape...she got yelled at once but finally made it and now we have both used our Break-In cards and that has to be the one and only time for both of us.

Sunday: Rob wants to get a cat and we went to see one on the Upper West Side.
We were on 92nd street. I had my cat carrier which was a cat-hair bomb (from Pebbles) and I was cleaning it out on the street...a ridiculous lady yelled at me because I was removing cat hair from the carrier "where families and children walk."  There was NO ONE on the sidewalk.  Rob really ripped into her and it was pretty hilarious. So 92nd street is a block where multi-millionaires live. Amazing old architecture, loads and loads of money.  And one building that is the projects, which is of course where the cat was. Such an intense contrast. So we went to the ASPCA (still on 92nd!) and they had no kittens.  Rob wants a kitten and he decided Manhattan cats are too messed up so he'll probably go out to Long Island.

Monday:  I have new neighbors upstairs and they like to BLAST their horrible music. It makes me insane...I get all the drums and all the bass. Have written a letter, have complained, will probably have to keep complaining because it is HORRIBLE when they do it.  I don't want to come home from work with their party pounding through my apartment.  If they want to do that they should move to the Bronx.  I get so messed up from stuff  like this....I don't want that nonsense in my home and there is no way to block it out.  It is distressing and awful.

Tuesday: Jackie and I went to dinner and had a nice time. Rob locked himself out of his apartment due to leaving his keys in Brooklyn at his job. His friend helped him get in.

I have pictures for this post but I'll post them later, maybe.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Bunch of Cool Tree Pictures

On Saturday the weather forecast was overcast, partially sunny and it rained all day.  But before the rain started in earnest, Rob and I went hiking on Long Island.

I loved the trees...they were twisty and cool-looking.

This log looks like an animal skull.

More cool stumps.

We found three trees that were all carved up.
Rob read the inscriptions which unfortunately released all the evil spirits, so we had to go find the Good Spirit Tree to vanquish them.

The Good Spirit Tree:

Jessica and Robertson Share Creativity

More Cool Trees.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Spring Things

Today is Friday and it is raining.  Again.
Spring is a bit of a tough time for me every year...I don't really know why, it's just how my cycles go I guess. Everything feels heavy and blah, kind of opposite of how it is supposed to feel.

Sometimes life catches up with me and I feel my circumstance of carrying everything alone to be crushing and overwhelming.  Rob asks what's wrong and I tell him, but it isn't something he can relate to.  He is present which is a wonderful thing, but there isn't really anything he can do. He has never had to worry about taking care of anyone other than himself, not even a pet.  There's nothing wrong with that, but it is a different mentality. I value his presence but it doesn't relieve the crushing weight.

I have new neighbors upstairs and on Fridays and weekends they like to BLAST their music so I get all the drums and all the bass.

I can't take it.  The super has talked to them (didn't help) and I wrote to the landlord.  Haven't heard anything back yet so I'm still wound up dreading the next wave of pounding bass.  My building is not the kind of building where people do this.  It is well-managed, a good building- and I really want it to stay that way.  Quality of life and preservation of the environment for everyone. When you live in a good building, you have to be a good tenant to keep the building good.  It's not the Bronx. And I'm paying a lot of rent.

I'm nuts about having a peaceful home environment.  I require sanctuary.
Obviously there is a normal amount of noise around to be expected and that's ok but I don't like my space to be infringed upon, nor would I do that to someone else.

Anyhow it stresses me. I can't seem to unwind from it.
I hate noise.

I can't find my Holbein palette knife and I strongly suspect- no, I KNOW- it is cat-related. Yesterday I looked for a long time in all the places it should have been, and some places it shouldn't.  Nothing.  My palette knife is my painting BFF and I miss it terribly.  I have a backup but it's not the same.

My friend Nancy had heart surgery on April 12th and no one has heard from her.
Neither of her phones are working, no response to email, her husband doesn't pick up. I called the gallery where she shows yesterday and they haven't heard anything but hopefully someone in OK will be able to find out more. In the meantime I tracked down her daughter and niece on Facebook and messaged them, but no response. Nance is elderly and physically very frail so I am worried.

All the trains are broken this morning exceot the 7 and the IRT lines, and it is probably only a matter of time until the 7 breaks.
I left home on time and got to work...there were problems during my commute but I got in before they got even worse.

Notify NYC 

Notification issued 4/21/17 at 9:17 AM. UPDATE: Due to a power outage, there are service changes and delays on the A,B,C,D,E,F, J,N, Q and R trains. The B train remains suspended between Brighton Beach and Beford Park Boulevard in both directions. The M train remains suspended between Chambers Street and Forest Hills in both directions.

Consider alternate routes and allow for additional travel time. For more information, please visit

Consider alternate routes?
MTA, all the routes are broken! The regular AND alternate ones!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This morning Daya, my coworker, and I went on a work field trip to the new cookie dough place in the Village.

There is always a line and we waited.
But it was worth it.

Cookie dough for breakfast is a fine idea.

And then I guess you can go to the pilates place around the corner!

Daya is back to school from spring break tomorrow FINALLY!