topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, August 31, 2015

Introducing....... (PRT)

Munchie, the elusive and rare Cobalt Hooded........


..... and Q-Tip.


They are both rescues from the West Side Highway rescue effort. In July, someone released hundreds of domestic white rats on the median of the West Side Highway near 57th street.


The city put out poison but hundreds of the rats were rescued.  There are STILL some out there.

So I took two of them, because PEW boy-rats are cool and they are the perfect color to be painted all kinds of wonderful colors.

Daya named Munchie, and I named Q-Tip.

Isis shows mild curiosity, but otherwise the cats could not care less.

HRH Queen Isis of the Fur

Dru and Branwen brought the rats over yesterday.
Pebbles has no interest in the rats, but she was very happy to have company over.  
Here she is, proudly posing with Drusilla, 

Two Beautiful Ladies

Thank goodness September starts tomorrow!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Ridiculous (PRT)

Isis, the Most Ridiculous Cat.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Addendum (PRT)

I wrote some details about my latest friendship loss in this post and this post too.
While my blog is not really the place to post about other peoples' lives, I'm going to say one more thing about what happened this summer.  Because I am still thinking about it and grieving the loss.

My former friend is an alcoholic. She decided to go sober at the beginning of this year. She has anger issues and aggressive tendencies in general. When she decided to go nuts on me and my apartment, she was at her six month mark in sobriety. Scottie told me that can be a point where people lose it. I know she had stopped therapy, I thought she was going to resume but maybe she didn't- and now that she is sober she doesn't have anything to numb her rage and it is uncontrolled. In my non-professional opinion, that is what happened- she projected, causing her to irrationally blow up on me and end our friendship.

The last I heard from her she called me a "fucking waste".

All because I was a little behind in housework.

My apartment, however, is fine. Truly.
Very solidly in the "normal" range of life in general.

I am overly-sensitive about my living space because my mother is a hoarder. As in the mental-illness kind of hoarder. Have you seen that show Hoarders?  With the mean and crazy people who choose a rock over their child? That's my mother. And I took the blame for it throughout my childhood and teenage years.  Very directly and constantly. It was bad.

We haven't spoken in years and that's absolutely fine with me. A great relief, in fact.

The last time I was there, when Daya was 4, I deemed her house physically unsafe for Daya to be in.
I couldn't handle being in there, either.

As an adult, I did have to consciously learn some basic life skills that I never learned growing up, but I have done that- I have worked so hard and come such a long way- and I continue to learn, grow, and improve as a person.

And that is why the (unjustified) things my friend said triggered the hell out of me.

I have made a decision.
I will no longer apologize for my apartment to anyone, ever again.
Because there is no need.
I always need to apologize for myself, assuming that people are thinking how awful I am.
No more.
I will have to practice this until it becomes natural.

While what my former friend is going through might explain what happened, it still doesn't make it ok.
I am deserving of the same kindness, compassion, and acceptance I offer to others.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Alone-Space (PRT)

So, I am once again at a point in life where I need to re-establish myself local-socially, which I have previously mentioned. This has been a year of immense unexpected loss. I find myself back in this space of no-connection, again.

Although I am not shy, I am a classic introvert. Being in a group of people, especially people I don't know, basically makes my skin crawl and I can't wait to go home. It drains me. Several times through the years, life circumstance has required for me to go seek community, go out and make new friends from scratch.  I have done it, several times, over many years, life stages, communities.

And now I find myself in that position again.  And it is absolutely the LAST thing I want to do. I have been given the advice to go find groups, meetups, etc, go out and meet new people (not referring to your comment Fran), and THAT IS THE VERY LAST THING I WANT TO DO- to once again go out among a bunch of strangers and find new people.

I have done it before.  It goes against my nature, but I have done it. I spent years laying groundwork, building relationships, only to have them all fail, time and time again.  So this advice makes me unreasonably and irrationally angry.  Not because it is necessarily bad advice, but it is not good advice for me. Not anymore. I am depleted, exhausted, and basically sick of everything when it comes to people.  It all ends in one bad experience after another. Enough is enough.

And I am taking care of a child who has no one but me.

No matter what I do, who I am as a person, how loyal a friend I am, how deeply I love, what I look like, the work I have done, none of it matters one bit. The end result is always the same. I am not afraid; I'm just TIRED AND DONE. I have no more energy for it.  My well is dry; I am depleted.

People who are not introverts truly do not understand; they do not understand the massive amount of energy it takes.  Energy which I do not have any more.

I have lost heart.
I admit defeat.
I have been through too much, through too many years.
That hope I have always had for positive change concerning people in my life is just gone.
The hope I had for good, positive, loving people entering into my life is just gone.
There is only so much a person can take, time after time, again and again, year after year.
I reached my limit.

Through the years, I have given a true and deep effort to find genuine connection to other people, and it has failed every single time. On every level. I am too old and too tired.

This leaves me in a situation to which I do not know the solution. "Go out and meet new people" is a LOT easier said than done, and I resent being told to do that for the reasons I have already stated. NYC is not an easy social scene to begin with.

So I don't know.  All I can do is endure day-to-day. While that is, obviously, not the ideal way to live life, I don't know what else to do.  I do not know how to resolve this horrible life pattern. But I definitely do not want to be told "Go out and join groups and meet new people", as unreasonable as that might sound.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pastel Bath (PRT)

Some of my soft pastels were in serious need of a bath.

The best way to clean pastels is in sand, or something grainy like cornmeal.
Since I have cornmeal, that's what I used.

Shake them gently for a minute or two...

And they come out nice and clean.

Then they are ready to be put away nicely.

When I first loaded up this box
it look me

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Pre-Pointe Class (PRT)

Here are two videos from Daya's pre-pointe class last night. :)
Ms. Shauna works them very hard!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Ghost Days (PRT)

These are such strange days.

Any kind of heavy focus or thinking is just not possible for me right now. Not for lack of trying.
I feel so unconnected to pretty much everything, except Daya and doing what needs to be done for her.

Unconnected, not disconnected.  "Disconnected" implies a connection, even if it is broken. Unconnected has no connection.  I would like to be connected, but I don't know how, and my attempts to build community, through the years, have failed.

Coincidentally, Anna Rose Bain just wrote about this yesterday on her blog about re-establishing community:

As a natural introvert, that thought was rather scary.

You see, community doesn’t always come naturally to artists. We are accustomed to spending long hours alone in the studio or field. We screen our phone calls, preferring to answer by email (IF we have energy for it, and on our own time!). 

But we all need community, and I mean, the kind where you get together in real life and draw from a model, or visit a museum show together, or grab coffee and talk about Sargent.

This year, this summer in particular, I am thinking about things I don't normally think about. Because it is 10 years. Ten years ago I was pregnant with Daya, in that summer of horror.  I was coping alone then, I also lost a best friend ten years ago- the one I confided in about what was going on in my marriage.

It has been a long time and I have come a long way- I have worked REALLY HARD to come this far- but my ghosts are haunting me badly this year. Still. They don't scare me but they do make me sad.  It seems that the work I have done doesn't matter.

Daya is doing exceptionally well. In general, the two of us get along very well. We have a harmonious home. She starts fifth grade next month- one more elementary year before another fairly major transition.  This has been a long, difficult, lonely road.  I have to keep going.

Oddly, Daya hasn't been wanting to go out on weekends for a while, which I might have already mentioned. So we are doing the apartment re-org.  We are in that switch-over phase where she is still a kid, but there is a lot she has outgrown.  Clothes, toys, books. So together we are going through everything and donating quite a lot.  She has done very well in her room; I want her to go through the process so she can learn to make these decisions. Keep, trash, donate. She has done well and I tell her so.

We aren't done yet but my entire apartment is in good order.  I like being home without having to be anywhere at any certain time. I can be slow and still get a lot done.

I have been painting.  Yesterday I spent a few hours painting...but finishing anything is slow going. My mental focus is just not there.

I am eager for 2015 to be over.  I know where I have been, I know where I am, but I have no idea where I am going. Re-establishing is relatively easy with a baby.  New moms are always looking for new mom friends. I am not there anymore, and as much as I do need to re-establish somewhere, at this point in my life it won't be as easy as it was 10 years ago.  And I lack the energy and will to re-start, again. So I'm just staying where I am for now, floating around.

I feel cast-off.

So, I am just going to float through these ghost days.  I have no real direction, but I don't care anymore.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Are We There Yet? (PRT)

.... is summer over yet?
It is neverending.

I cannot focus on anything. Ugh.

This grouched-out lemur agrees.
(photo from the Bronx zoo from last month)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Eggs from Hell (PRT)

Here is a good recipe.

I call this Eggs from Hell.
(That title isn't mine... I think Dru came up with it.)

If you don't like hot, don't make it.  As it happens, I LOVE spicy-hot.
Load this up with as much heat as you can stand.

cayenne pepper (habanero would work too)
garlic of some sort.  I use garlic paste, but you could use powder or fresh or whatever.
salt (I use pink Himalayan salt)
chives or something green and pretty

OPTIONAL: cheddar cheeze. or meunster.  or- what the hell, both

Melt butter in pan (I like to brown the butter), mix everything together and scramble, fold, or make an omelette.

Top with chives or something green and pretty.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Liquid Pencil (PRT)

Water-soluble graphite is nothing new at all.  A while ago I heard about Liquid pencils, and they looked cool.  I thought it was just graphite-ink-stuff that came in re-wettable and permanent.

It is.

But there is a whole range of them, and I saw this little sampler set of all the tubes and of course I needed it.

I really like the liquid pencils, and if I was doing a larger-scale project I would probably get a full size bottle.

How wonderful that they all come together in all these supercute little tubes!

The sepia and the blue are my faves, those in particular would make some really nice value studies/tonal work.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Futile (PRT)

A good talk.....

Me: Isis, get off my drawing table.
Isis: .....

Me: Isis, get off!
Isis: looks down, avoids eye contact

Me: Isis, GET OFF NOW!!
Isis: pretends no one is there. Looks away at no one.


I gave up.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Just in Case You Were Wondering... (PRT)

sign at Lick ice cream shop

Zoltar is in Hudson if you need him. (NOTE: this Zoltar might be a knock-off)

And here is an FYI from all dogs everywhere:
(I think a cat wrote it)

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Recently Spotted (PRT)

Things I have seen over the last few days that I don't have pictures of, unfortunately:
(Use your imagination.)

1. An old bearded man in Times Square dressed head to toe as a pot plant.  He was wearing a huge lion's mane of giant fake pot leaves, with a huge sign on his chest about legalizing marijuana.

2. A young man stealing a bike tire and not even bothering to hide it.

3. A young man, with his phone on a selfie stick recording video, documenting his experience of walking into Sephora. Yeah, must remember that.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Vintage Tins (PRT)

Here are three very old tins.

The first two are from high school.
The graphite sketching pencil set on the far left was my first "real" full range artist pencil set, and it was always with me.  It  got beat up in my locker. It got a high school education and sat in many, many classes. I probably still have some of the original pencils...I do have many old-style Derwents around.

They never go out of style though!  Ha!

Old-Style Derwents!

The second tin is my first watercolor pencil set, also from high school.  I was so excited for this set.
All the original pencils are still in the tin except the white, which I swapped out with the original black pencil in college. I was always careful with the set.

These first two are from the days of Derwent hinged tins!

The third tin I got a few years later, and the top is separate.  It was another set of graphite sketching pencils.  By that time the original tin was pretty beat up and wouldn't close properly anymore.

Last week I have put this third tin back to good use.  In college I got a 72 set of Derwent watercolors. Since my sketchbook pages are black, and I am working in color on black, these are PERFECT.  Old pencils in an old tin, put to a new use!  So exciting!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A Box of Supercute! (PRT)

I have to share this awesome box of SUPERCUTE!

They aarrreee!!

Becca sent me one with a little mini-painting she painted several years ago.
It lives on my house altar.

One mini-micro-easel is enough, so none came home with me.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

One Dilemma Solved (PRT)

One out of two oil pastel dilemmas is solved.

You, my lovely friends, voted for the landscape set but i went with the portrait set because there was far less overlap to what I already have.

I love 40% off coupons.

I did get a box that I think might work nicely for my oil pastels but I have not yet made the leap to
de-box them.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Hotel Spoils (PRT)

Daya went on an overnight camp trip to Camp Camelback in the Poconos.  She got back last night.
It is a water park resort, so there were hotel rooms.

Before she left, I asked Daya to bring me back some good hotel loot, like soaps.

She remembered!!

Hotel Loot

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Wonderings (PRT)

On Tuesday, I faced a massive dilemma of indecisiveness:

Do I go to yoga or not?
All day I was in a state of not-able-to-think-limbo.

Sometimes, it is hard to tell the difference between what I should do (go to yoga), and what I need to do. Often, the answer to both is the same. But sometimes it isn't, and I couldn't tell, which was maddening.

If I did not go to yoga, though, I was going do some oil pastel testing and schedule a few blog posts.

Well, I ended up going to yoga in a last-second decision, so answers to oil pastel wonderings happened last night instead.

The oil pastel wonderings:
When I did the oil pastel rat portraits, I worked on un-primed archival vellum with my rather ancient cheapie Holbeins.  I used a solvent wash for the under-painting which dried almost immediately.  Layering was very fast and easy, and I could knock out a 9x12 portrait in 30-40 minutes. My ancient cheapie Holbeins are much harder then Senns and are very easy to control with the method I was using.

Ancient Cheapie Holbeins

So I needed to see combinations of ancient cheapie Holbeins and Senns on primed and un-primed paper, with grey and white color shapers, solvent and no solvent.

Carey also had the experience of solvent sitting on top of colorfix. I completely understand how it is dislike-able.

Basically, it is oil pastel workflow experimentation.

 Vellum, half primed with Colorfix

It's not supposed to look like anything

I primed some vellum with colorfix. The bottom is the plain paper surface.
Top row: Senns
Bottom row: Holbeins

Left to right: straight oil pastel, blended with white color shaper, blended with grey color shaper, turps wash

On Colorfix
Senns: I like both the grey and white color shapers, but the white a little more. The turps sits on top of the surface which I do not like at all.
Holbeins: Same, except I like the grey color shapers a little more than the white ones. The turps sat on top.

Senns: I like the grey color shapers a little more, the turps dried immediately! Love!
Holbeins: I like the white color shapers a little more. The turps dried immediately, but I already know that. :)

THEN... I had a Great Idea!


Now, I know you can use oil mediums with oil pastel, but acrylic?  Hmmm.  This is cool, especially if the medium is iridescent!

I added it to my sample sheet.  It dried quickly and additional layers go on nicely. It did not smear/dilute the oil pastel, which was my main concern.  But that makes sense since it is water-based.

So I put iridescent medium over the little piece I started on Monday.  It is drying and I will put another layer on it tonight.

More layers necessary

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Comfy (PRT)

Apparently, making silly faces is very tiring.... Pebbles has decided to nap in the laundry, which she somehow moved and spread out all by herself.  I think that happened when all three cats went on hyper-drive and were literally flying around my apartment....

It is hard to tell but I think she has made herself comfy.

Isis likes to sleep in strange squished contortions on the back of the couch.
How is this comfy? She is sideways-half-caved-in!

And here is Furball, properly on the bed, being completely normal and perfect.
Truly, Furball can do no wrong, ever.