Sunday, March 29, 2009

Another Anniversary

This is the inner flap of my Cuban passport from 1961; the yellowed card stapled to the cover with my photo is the autorization to leave.

Today marks the 48th anniversary of my arrival in Miami in the company of my two sisters... My older sister Bea tells me that she had a presentiment as we were departing that it was to be forever... but I think none of us ever thought the Castro regime would last this long.

That there are still human beings on this planet who support Castro and believe he has done "some good things" for "his people" is beyond my ability to fathom. I understand it's the power of lies and propaganda; Castro has always had a close ally in Satan, the Father of Lies.

It seems to me that Evil is on the rise in the world at this moment, and in Latin America in particular, with the Castro-Chavez hard-left axis of evil sweeping across the continent. I worry about what is happening to our freedom here in America too. It's probably not uncommon for a person my age to have so many worries and feel pessimistic about the future, but these times seem darker to me than any I've ever seen before. May the Almighty protect us; Lord knows our leaders aren't!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Piece in Another Medium

During winter I often amuse myself reading gardening magazines and catalogs, and this year a photo in one caught my imagination: a shady spring garden filled with Virginia bluebells, pink bleeding hearts, ferns and hostas. I immediately thought of the spot in my front yard under the two maple trees--wouldn't it be lovely to have a shady flower garden there? I ordered the plants and began to envision masses of blue and pink flowers against a backdrop of greens.

Yesterday afternoon I went out to prepare the blank canvas for my new artwork in this living medium. Creating a beautiful garden is a different sort of challenge for a painter, since plants and flowers are far more intractable than paint. Plants have specific needs as to soil, sun and climate that must be met for them to grow into a beautiful work of art. And yet the two arts are closely related. I think of Monet and his garden at Giverny, and feel close to the great artist in this predilection we share.

The new flowerbed began with the back-breaking labor of digging up the sod around the larger maple in the front yard. Maple roots are very shallow, making digging a slow, laborious process. It's hard to believe doing these few square feet took several hours and I was too exhausted to finish the back third of the circle. I did have time to spread one bag of soil conditioner on about half the bed before the evening and rain overtook me.

My new plants will be arriving soon; hopefully I can finish digging tomorrow when the weather clears and start under the other maple. Eventually I'll tie both pieces into one continuous flowerbed. I haven't decided yet what sort of edging to use--stone, wood or black plastic?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Flores Article Finally Complete

The Chicken Coop Across the Street, watercolor, 6" x 10"

It only took a year and ten months since my trip to Flores in the Azores Island, but today the third part of my photo-essay on Flores is finally complete. Check it out at This last part was much harder because I am now my own webmistress, so had to create the page layout as well as the rest. The only good thing about that is that it forced me to learn new skills, though I've long way to go in understanding html code.

You can now read all three parts:

Part One: An Artist-in-Residence on the Island of Flowers
Part Two: Lagoas and Pocas, On the Trail with Pierluigi
Part Three: The Florentinos

I'd love some feedback on the piece--would you want to travel to Flores after reading my article? Would it be helpful if you were an artist going there for the first time? You can leave a comment here, fill out the survey on the left, (or both) or send an E-mail to

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Cycle Begins Anew

For several weeks I've been eagerly searching for the first harbingers of spring, but the balmy temperatures last weekend just days after the snow earlier in the week still caught me by surprise!

I puttered happily in my garden, fertilizing the raised bed, planting snow peas, pruning, and bagging debris. Planting a rose my sister had given me last year became a major project--as I began to expand the original flower bed, it became necessary to move several large stones that formed the edges. The stones were so heavy I could not lift them, so I ended up rolling them one by one into their new places for a better looking shape. Now all we need is some rain (and a back massage).

Along with the shoots emerging from the ground, dormant spirits rise as this artist prepares for a new cycle of growth. I was reading from Hensche on Painting*, and came upon this:

Therefore to study color, it is best to to take the less complicated forms; still life objects in scale, and obvious color, is the ideal study. Starting with the head or figure is not advisable. As Chase said, "Where there's still life, there's hope.

After taking the still life class this past winter with Lee Boynton, who was one of Hensche's students, I heartily agree. Now I think I'm ready for painting outdoors once again.
* Henry Hensche, (1899-1992) was the leading teacher of American impressionism at the Cape Cod School of Art from the 1930's until his death.

Friday, March 6, 2009

In Natural Light

Same Still Life with Green Bowl

Today we painted the same still life set-up as last week but without the floodlights on. It was a cloudy day outside so the challenge was to paint the same thing in a completely different light and color key from last week's, with its simulated sunlight. Some of the differences jumped out at once, but other more subtle color changes were harder to see. In this light the lit side of the objects becomes cooler and subdued, while the shadows become lighter and warmer, with softer edges.

At the end of the class we put out two paintings next to each other for comparison. Look at the painting below. Fascinating, don't you think?