topiary cats

topiary cats

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

My 10K Hoodie

It is disorienting on a weird level when your kid is ready for high school.

Luckily, LaGuardia HS had a whole evening dedicated to orienting everyone.
Actually, it was mostly paperwork.
And the swag was on sale.  (I call it LaG SwaG.)

It was a good orientation, they were very clear about everything.  It was very well-organized, I'll say that.

The beginning and end were a bit cheezeball (they had to play both versions of the Fame song) but that's ok too. They are ridiculously proud of their alumni and that is understandable.

A lot of LaG kids can be spotted after school lounging around Lincoln Center.
Daya will get to do that, too.
There are far worse stomping grounds than Lincoln Center.

I told Daya that when I am in Lincoln Center, my name is Vivien Beaumont.
It is a great name and also the name of the theater across from Julliard.
I assume because she paid for it to be built.
Therefore, I am Vivien Beaumont when I am in Lincoln Center and that theater is named after me.
Daya thinks I am extremely obnoxious and deliberately ignores me.
But I have to tell you, it's fun to be so fabulously wealthy that a Lincoln Center theater is named after me!

Daya and I got our LaG SwaG.
Tshirts, matching hoodies, and we got free bags too.

I call this my 10k hoodie because that's how much I spent on dance last year, and I'm not kidding about that.

My 10K hoodie!

TWO (2) people thought I was an incoming Freshman!

Absolutely everyone I talk to at that school (and much to Daya's dismay I talk to everyone) LOVES it.  (There has only been one student exception, and I think she was unhappy at home because she kept talking about her mom bugging her obsessively.  Poor kid.)

A security guard said the kids are nice, there are no fights, and she loves being there.
Other students say in general the kids there are all much nicer than what you would normally expect in high school... because they are all doing what they want to do, they all want to be there.  A senior vocal major told me there is a lot of kindness and positive energy in the school.

Daya is going to have a great experience, and I will too because the Parent Association is extremely active.  I'm so looking forward to meeting new people and being involved.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Gouache and Turtle Bay Gardens

I took an art workshop for writing and sketching which was located in the stunning Turtle Bay Gardens.  The woman who ran the workshop has a friend who lives in a garden-access house there. (!!!)

(Yes the house is amazing)

Turtle Bay Gardens is the largest private garden space in Manhattan. Think of gorgeous houses around a back courtyard, with private gardens around a central garden space. 

It has historically been home to people like Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Paul Newman, E.B. White, and Kurt Vonnegut.


So anyhow I got to paint there.


The workshop was about incorporating writing into sketching, which is up my alley as I still can easily veer back into an almost-unhealthy obsession with the Speedball Textbook.
It was a very good workshop and the main thing I got from it, aside from the astounding location, is yet another example of combining stuff that has been sitting around in my studio mostly-unused for years.

Black gesso and white gel pens.

Oh. My. Gosh.
My sketching life is forever altered.
I never thought of doing this because I assumed the gesso would be too rough but it isn't, it is a perfect gel pen surface!
Regular acrylic paint would be too slick.
It feels sooooo nice to write with the gel pen on the black gesso.

We had pre-work on which we added writing in the workshop, and we also did a full sketch in the garden and added writing from pre-selected quotes.

Here is my garden sketch, I only had about 20 mins to do it.

And here is my pre-work with the writing added:

Here are some garden pictures.
(Lisa you would love it.)

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Blind Painters

Well I learned something new today.

Did you know that Degas had worse vision problems than I have for most of his life?
He had some kind of retina disorder, probably hereditary.  It started when he was 36 and progressed through the rest of his long life.  He lost central vision in his early 40s and couldn't paint outdoors dur to extreme light sensitivity.

By age 39, Degas had bitterly accepted his visual difficulties. He believed blindness was imminent, a particularily daunting prospect for a painter. He wrote, "My eyes are fairly well but all the same I shall remain in the ranks of the infirm until I pass into the ranks of the blind. It is really bitter, is it not? Sometimes I feel a shiver of horror." – letter to James Tissot, 1873, Paris. Degas was able to continue painting, but was forced to limit the time he spent at work. "My eyes are very bad. The oculist… has allowed me to work just a little until I send in my pictures. I do so with much difficulty and the greatest sadness." – letter to Tissot, 1874, Paris.
By his forties, Degas developed a loss of central vision. Painting became even more difficult, as he was forced to paint around this scotoma. Later on, Degas had problems identifying colors and asked his models to identify the colors of his media. His vision became progressively worse, and by 1891, at age 57, he could no longer read. "I see even worse this winter, I do not even read the newspapers a little; it is ZoĆ©, my maid, who reads to me during lunch. Whereas you, in your rue Sadolet in your solitude, have the joy of having your eyes… Ah! Sight! Sight! Sight!… the difficulty of seeing makes me feel numb." – letter to friend, Evariste de Valernes, Paris, 6 July, 1891.

Article Link


I knew about Monet and Georgia O'Keefe and their eye issues later in life, but Rembrandt had wonky eyes too!!

Famous Artists with Eye Issues

Now, when I tell someone about my eyes and also that I paint, and they can't quite reconcile these two things.... I'll mention my famous artist-friends, especially Degas who had it worse than me.

There is so much available now to maintain a much better quality of life and ability to function.
I am so appreciative I live in a time where so many more possibilities are available.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Gouache and Sundries

I painted another sketchbook page during dance.
My new palette is working nicely for me, and I'm getting away from all the grey.

But I miss my pastels, and I have studio work lined up..... it's just that I have this weird feeling lately of not wanting to be home.

 CAREY is coming to visit me!!! I'm so excited!!! I'm so happy she wants to visit me!!!!
It will be a short visit which is fine, we'll do lots of arting and have fun in general.

This is also really good motivation for me to clean!

High School Orientation.... what?? It is next week.  What????
I thought it would be in August like it was last year.  Nope, it is next week AND for a day in August, which conflicts with Daya's mandatory team intensive......

Speaking of dance and calendars, dance scheduling makes my head spin.  It is no joke coordinating everything.

Anyhow, my head isn't in the Fall yet, I have to get my kid out of middle school, regents exams,  prom, graduation, through the summer,  through recital, another competition, SAI performance, my eye surgery....... oh my gosh.

I'm not ready for the finer details of high school coordination.  Why does it have to be next week?  My head is just not there yet.

SAI:  Daya got in.  Of course she got in,  It is 4 weeks of FREE everything!  They get FREE metrocards, FREE breakfast, FREE lunch, FREE field trips, FREE dance class run by ABT.

I suspect Daya will find it to be easier than Ailey was but it's ok.  She's going to meet people and have a great time.  Also, it is FREE. Three other girls from the studio are going too.  I'm glad everyone got in.

The kids had to do a solo (in private) for the SAI audition.  When Daya was dancing hers she heard one of the judges whisper "She's pretty solid all around"...and then she fell down.  PLONK. SPLAT. We both think this is pretty funny. I'm glad we can laugh about it.

We are still waiting on Manhattan Youth Ballet, and we should know by the end of this week.

Monday, April 08, 2019

The Mist

Around last Autumn sometime, I noticed a change in my vision.
I have a trace cataract in my left eye- it has been there for years and has been deemed "clinically insignificant".

But I haven't been seeing properly, and the vision is different in my left and right eyes.
Basically, I'm looking through a fog.

I'm ok in bright light but diffused or low light situations are a real challenge.
In restaurants I can't see the face of the person sitting right across from me.

So I went to the eye doctor and my cataract has rapidly grown over the last several months. This can happen. Cataracts can be unchanging for years, then suddenly get bad very quickly.

My eye doctor said I have two options:  do surgery now or do surgery later, like in a year.

I'm just going to get it over with.  This fog is hard to live with and no matter what, I'll have to go through the same ordeal.

Youth is on my side!! I'm super-young to have this surgery.
My new lens will be a corrective lens inside my eye and I won't need a contact lens.

The crappy and difficult part is that I cannot wear my contact lenses for a month before surgery.
Because I wear hard lenses, the shape of my eye is changed from its natural state.  So my eyes have to go back to "normal", which they have not been since I was 13 years old after my retina surgery.
(I have been in hard contacts since I was 11.)
Dr Young said 'You're really going to hate this; it will drive you crazy." He's right.
I don't see very well out of my glasses.

Surgery is scheduled for Aug 5th.
One month of glasses.
One month.

I can do this.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Gouache and Confiscation

I met a couple of friends from Urban Sketchers for an unofficial outing to the Met.
The Met is magical in the evening, even more than in the daytime.

My friend had her teeny tiny watercolor set confiscated by security at the entrance.

Security also looked in my bag and I entered the museum with no fewer than THREE small watercolor sets.

Isn't that stupid?

We painted in the sculpture court.

We wandered through to the American wing and found Julliard musicians playing lovely music on historical string instruments.

I like this stained glass window.  It is much better in person and doesn't photograph well.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

Laguardia Open House

Tonight we went to the open house for accepted students.  Daya is so excited.
I'm glad she will be there, and I'm glad she is in a small department. (Dance is the second smallest after theater tech.)

Since the dance students don't perform at all until Junior/Senior year, they aren't in competition with each other.  I like that.

I heard from staff and other students that the dance kids tend to stick together, and I like that, too.  LaG is a big school, and I'm glad Daya will have a small home inside such a large place.

She will have academic classes with kids from the other studios, which is also good.  But the dance kids are together in class for all 4 years- 3 hours a day 5 days a week- and they are expected to be a family.  I hope it is really like that.  The dance students do seem to be pretty happy.  The demo class they gave was lovely.

As usual I spent too much time wandering around in the art rooms and art gallery.  Daya gets cross with me for being too interested in the art department.  But I can't help it.  There are paintings ALL OVER the school, which I think is just wonderful.  There is some wonderful work, too. And I love that they have the art kids doing full-out oil painting.

I am so very, very proud of Daya!!

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Gouache and More Color

Daya was in her room and it was very very quiet... I went in to check and found her fast asleep, guarded by Pebbles.

An artist friend posted some lovely gouache sketches.  I asked her about her palette, which she shared.  I got one.  It's an empty palette and I filled it myself from tubes.  Isn't it adorable?

During dance I used this new palette for the first time, and I like it a lot!

Since now I have done enough gouaches to look at them as a group, I have been evaluating and critiquing them as a whole.  What I have come to is they are too grey.  I need more color.  So that was my goal last night.

This is so odd because I'm a pastel-person and also a color junkie... but my gouache sketches are so grey!  I don't have this issue in any other medium. 

Anyhow, here is the studio again, with turquoise.