Archive for the ‘Art’ Category

Island Living

Friday, October 22nd, 2010


In mid-September we moved to a new-to-us apartment, in a new-to-us part of town. It’s in the Goodpasture Island area, which is not really an island but is mostly surrounded by water in the form of ponds, creeks, and the Willamette River.

From our corner of the complex, if you headed to the right of our neighbor’s black car and toward the red-leaved trees, you would come to the river trail. I’ll show you some scenes of that later. For now, come on in – I’ll give you a tour.


It’s nice to be on the ground floor for a change. Though we do hear our upstairs neighbors bouncin’ around (one of them is a young girl).

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In our entryway, there are doors to our garage, our hall closet, and our laundry room. They are all messy and/or boring, so I won’t show you those, just know that they are there… and boy do I love them. Especially the laundry room! No more lugging baskets downstairs to coin-operated washers.

To the right is the kitchen. Notice the dishwasher, very convenient. Not so convenient is the fact that there are only 5 drawers in the entire kitchen, one of them is 4 inches wide, and the other 4 are narrower than 10 inches. Our nice roomy silverware tray wouldn’t fit, but no matter – BN crafted a custom one with wooden pegs. Other than that the kitchen is very nice, and has a bit more counter space and a few more cupboards than I’ve ever had before.


Here we are in the dining area looking back into the kitchen.


The dining table, which also functions as BN’s workstation since he recently got a laptop.

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On the left is a collection of interesting knick-knacks and a painting that BN got in Haiti in 2000. On the right is the view out of our back door, where there is a covered patio that looks out on the communal backyard. A much more soothing scene than a track and a football field, don’t you think?

Now we move into the living room area.


I want you to take special note of my Christmas cactus, which has survived since my birthday last year – by far the longest I’ve been able to keep a houseplant. Here’s the view out of the window:



And the workstation / entertainment center. Note BN’s newest art piece – it’s angular wooden pieces that have been brightly painted and mounted on a fabric backing. He also built the frame, staining it to look like ebony.


BN created this batik-dyed panel last year. It’s nice to finally have a wall big enough to hang it on. Just past this is the bathroom (on the left) and the bedroom (on the right.)


Another batik project by BN. It wraps around onto the wall to the right as well.

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The bedroom is connected to the bathroom via a closet/hall/vanity area. I love having a closet for each of us, but it’s kind of overkill for us to have 2 sinks, complete with storage. (Neither of us is the type to do a lot of mirror-facing prep in the morning.)

That’s it – if you went left into the bathroom, and then left again, you’d be back out in the living room.

Now let’s take a walk along the river.


This path is great for bicycling – it’s a lovely ride along the river and through Skinner Butte park to downtown.


I’ve enjoyed running the first few miles along this path, too. I’ll be sad when this lovely weather comes to an end – then I will be heading to the treadmill and weight machines in the apartment complex community center.




Thursday, April 29th, 2010

Ten years ago I was finishing up my stint as a full-time art student.

At Mission College in Santa Clara, CA, I took basic drawing classes, 2-D concepts, life drawing,

color theory, and the basic Adobe software classes.

Then I transferred to San Jose State and I took Representational Drawing, Intro to Illustration, basic thru intermediate Photography classes, and basic thru advanced Typography and Graphic Design.

I had saved most of the projects from these classes – it’s hard to get rid of things that I spent so much time on. But all those art papers, matted photos, and presentation boards take up a lot of space. I had been thinking about photographing the work and thinning down the collection to just a few representative and favorite pieces. Last week we purchased a new camera – a Canon Powershot SX 20 IS. We also got an Epson scanner.

At the same time I was sorting through a lot of other stuff that was stored in our spare bedroom…

Now my artwork is archived and I took a whole hatchback load of gently used mat boards, fabric remnants, and collage material to Mecca, which is like the Salvation Army for artists and teachers.

Dark Side of the Moon

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

Last night we got tickets from a friend to go see Eugene Ballet’s interpretation of the Pink Floyd classic, Dark Side of the Moon – with live music provided by the Floydian Slips.

I’ve always enjoyed watching ballet, but I hadn’t been to any performances since I was a kid, and those were mostly the holiday, kid-friendly type of show.

A year or so ago, BN and I went to a “laser light show” of Dark Side of the Moon, at our local childrens/science museum. It was ultra-lame. BN had seen other laser shows of DSofM and said they were much better. But this one was just cringingly awful.

So we went into the Hult Center wondering what we were in for. The “opening acts” were 2 contemporary ballets, the second one preferable to the first but both pretty cool. Then, after an intermission, was Dark Side of the Moon. It was totally awesome! BN said after, and I agree, that all rock concerts should have dancing. The band was on the back part of the stage, partially hidden from our view because we were so high up in the auditorium, and the ballet happened on the front half of the stage. I thought they did a great job of balancing some abstract dancing with some characters/storytelling. I mean it was all dance, but there was a great personified “money” character, a girl in a splashy green outfit with a team of male dancers chasing her around. The “Lunatic” sequence sent chills down my spine – a woman dressed in bandage-colors, mixing nervous tics – somehow gracefully – into her movements, and 4 dark-clad men carrying her bodily around the stage as she tossed and turned.

Now when those songs come up on iTunes I have beautiful thrilling mental images to replace the cheesy laser graphics I had previously.

Two words: Rock On!!!

Christmas Traditions and Other Cool Stuff

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Christmas Tree


The Candy House, complete with snowman, dog with bone, Santa, and Grinch/Alien


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The beaches along Highway 1, North of Santa Cruz


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The journal that BN made from scratch, with hand-batik-dyed covers and coptic binding


My brother’s self-portrait from his oil painting class

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My other brother’s new Lego VW Beetle


The fully restored Ball Machine outside the Tech Museum


A Rose by any other Camera would look more like a Rose

Monday, February 23rd, 2009


My camera has decided to become an Abstract Expressionist. This image was inspired by a bouquet of roses that BN brought me… I do love flowers and I always take pictures of them for use as “stock photos” later. But the Canon A80… apparently it’s getting artistic in its old age. I got it in 03, and since then it’s been a consistent Realist, producing strictly representational images. Well, it seems those days are over.

Ceramic Success

Friday, April 27th, 2007

Ceramics: Winter 07 pieces

A sizable bag of clay (about 25 pounds?) was included in the price of our ceramics class, and I got 14 items made during the Winter term, with some left over!

I knew the potter’s wheel was going to be challenging, but it’s still a real struggle for me, even after a whole term of practice. It’s difficult to get the lump of clay centered on the wheel, spinning it fast and dripping on water… Then you have to punch-in on center to start your pot, and you want to work it as long as you can to make it thin, without working the clay too much and having it collapse on you. Then, you have 2 more challenges – once it’s mostly dry (but don’t wait too long), to trim away enough of the thick base to make a light, balanced piece. THEN, you try to guess from various sample tiles what glazes to use and how they might possibly turn out! It’s always a surprise, it seems – pleasant or not so pleasant. I found that I was very, very happy with some of my pieces while others came out astonishingly ugly. Well, I guess I had a few mildly successful ones, too, that weren’t spectacular. It’s pretty neat, though, to hold the finished piece in your hands and think, I made this! After firing it’s basically glass on stone, so the feeling of making something that solid, permanent, and functional is very satisfying. My bowls came out mostly a good ice-cream size… That’s another thing. The items shrink slightly at each step, so the size you made it on the wheel is not how it’s going to end up.

I was inspired by BN to try some pressed-in designs on some of my pieces. He’s the kind of guy who collects knobs and shot-bead chains and other things that have interesting shapes. So we had a whole assortment of goodies to impress upon our works of clay… One of my favorite bowls, the yellow one, has blue waves that I created using a cast-iron napkin ring. I also had success with painting on designs with a brush. And, I tried drip-application, too. This quarter I am going to take a 2-week glazing workshop, so I’m excited to learn more about the glazes and how they work.

Flower Pot with drippy glazemug with dripped design

bowl with painted designbowl with impressed design


Wednesday, February 28th, 2007


We finished up our ceramics class last weekend. Here are some of our finished projects. Most of these are BN’s – because I missed the class devoted to glazing (that headcold was such a bummer!), I had to catch up a bit and most of my pieces are still in the pre-fired state. Glazing is fun, you have to just experiment and see what you get. There are sample tiles with all the glazes on them but there are so many variables, like how you layer them in different coats, the kind of clay you used for your pot, and even different firings will produce different results. Dad, you would love it – chemistry meets art.

I thought these all looked cool together. Most of them have flaws – rough edges, glaze blisters, or too-thick bottoms giving them an unpleasant weight. But we are already dreaming of making more and better attempts.

Beginning Ceramics

Monday, January 29th, 2007

We are utilizing the Craft Center on campus and doing some dabbling in pottery. It’s tons of fun. Last Sunday night was our first class and already BN has been unable to resist the temptation to return several times during the week during open studio hours. (Since he’s right there on campus every day.) I went with him on Wednesday, and we were there for 4 hours! I’m not making very much headway, but BN is a natural sculptor. I already knew that, because of all the neat stuff he has created using wood, wire, etc. But he’s already made 2 beautiful pieces in the first week! They look stunning even pre-glazed/fired.

Tonight we learned to throw pots on the wheel. I knew it would be difficult but it was downright impossible, for me, before I realized that I should break a new piece of clay off of my stock rather than using the harder, dryer stuff I’d been working with during the week. Then I was able to get a start.

Our instructor must have an interest in art therapy because he is so positive and supportive. (And full of helpful information about all things ceramics.) He said, during the demo on the potter’s wheel, that we would all certainly pick it up quickly, more quickly than he himself did, because he really had a hard time starting out, etc. He tried out my clay, and instead of chiding me for being so stingy and not breaking off a fresh chunk, said no wonder I’d been having a hard time and helpfully mushed all my hard clay and failed attempts into a big rope for me that I could later work at to knead back into usefulness.

I’m really excited at the prospect that we will be able to make all kinds of functional and beautiful things like mugs, bowls, plant pots and such. And even if we don’t take more classes, it’s only $10 for students (and spouses) to get a term studio pass for unlimited use of the studios during non-class time…

Hey, readers – my dear family and friends – you need to go out and take a studio art class. It is the best thing ever. I’ve done lots of drawing classes, but there are so many choices. Drawing, painting, ceramics, print-making, sculpture, photography – It is so great to get focused instruction in creativity, aesthetics, and technique, making images and/or objects completely from scratch! I’m creative for a living but I’m totally loving this clay thing because it’s something I’ve never done. A new skill, a new way to think – a new way to use your hands, a new way to use your eyes and your brain. You should try it, each and every one of you. And it’s more fun to go with a friend.