These are a few things that are on my brain recently….
4. tamarind trees
Yes, that is Parker the Party Girl, over for a visit in her Sunday Best. Caskie was part of this romp as well (as were Bonnie and Maggie, Parker’s cousins from next door) but was probably sitting in the creek cooling off just to the left of the frame of this photo. The pups are about 6 months old or so now. Caskie is finally not only used to River and Iris, but really loves them. There is a lot of Wild Kingdom-esque wrestling and playing these days. There is mutual respect at meal time and sometimes the cat makes a run for it, giving the dogs a little thrill. Life in Dog Land here is pretty dog-gone great.
Meanwhile, construction continues…
As my good friend in Denver put it so eloquently, “Holy Home Improvement Project, Batman!”
Today I took a few of my recent wax efforts downtown to Deskey, a cool brand imaging company, where photographer Gregg Smith works. I have been having trouble taking decent photographs of my encaustic work because of the way the light bounces around, in and on this medium. This quality is of course what also makes encaustic so tricky to work with, but so beautiful and luminescent when done well.
I have always enjoyed Gregg’s ability to photograph my work, at a reasonable cost and with a quick turn around. My plan is to apply to the small works show, Magnitude Seven, at Manifest Gallery with two works shown below, Golden Spine and Charged. With these two, I feel like I might finally be getting somewhere with encaustic. The more I work with it, the more I know I need to learn. Thankfully, it is an entrancing process and I have yet to get bored with it.
Three dogs are a strong force to be reckoned with when being walked by one fairly petite gal. Caskie has always been a go-getter on walks, practically choking himself to get from point A to point B. With River and Iris gaining weight and strength each day, our walks together were starting to become more of a chore than a joy and we got to the point where it took (at least) 2 people to walk the lot of them.
On the advice of our vet, I decided to try out a new collar situation which causes the pups to be led by their noses with the leash, instead of the usual tug of war with a regular choke collars. With just a couple of weeks of adjustments, all three dogs are now using these new collars with much success. River and Caskie still stop now and then to try and weasel their way out of the nose collars but Iris took to it right away. New collars and pretty weather have us walking together most days which is therapeutic for all of us.
Wax activity continues in the studio when I have a chance. At this point I am making a lot of experiments and just trying different things out. I ordered some more supplies from R&F Paints and have cut a few boards down to size which are slightly bigger than the first few. Little by little I am learning more about this wacky encaustic process.
Meanwhile, house renovation has begun in earnest. The termite damage we knew was in the walls was even more extensive than expected. That coupled with an out-dated/ questionable electrical situation made for a house fire waiting to happen. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we are glad to have all of this uncovered, being repaired and brought up to code. So far it is an amazing process, getting this house down to its skeleton, even with all of the work ahead….
Tomorrow the demo crew arrives to begin Phase I of the HUGE remodeling project that is our house. The cool thing is, we have lived here just long enough to know how we’d like the space to flow, but not long enough that we are too settled in to create some change. The past few days have seen a flurry of activity, moving workable kitchen stuff to the lower level, putting all the but the essentials into boxes. I told the kids to choose one bowl, one plate, one cup etc. that each person will be responsible for to have for meals. Maddie quirked that we now each have “One Plate to Rule Them All” (a la Lord of the Rings).
Soon walls and ceilings will be coming down and getting framed in elsewhere to modernize and open up our floor plan. With all of the impending upheaval and chaos headed our way, I spent a few minutes today dusting off old Buddha outside my studio door and sprucing up my doorway altar. It will be necessary to maintain some sacred, put-together areas of the house to avoid losing all sense of sanity while the contractors are here.
I have heard so many stories over the years of what a challenge a large residential renovation can be but I am trying to maintain an attitude of gratitude and realize what a tremendous privilege it is to be embarking on such a project. Secretly I have kind of enjoyed getting stuff back into boxes and paring down to basic minimums. It appeals to my gypsy side. Living primarily in one area of the house will feel a bit like camping and that is the spin I am putting on it for the kids.
Meanwhile, things feel hopeful around here as it is finally spring… I think. Today the sun shone all day and the temps are mild. The kids and their cousins played outside in the creeks and in the woods all day, as did the dogs. It will be a good time of year to renovate. We can always pitch a tent out back if things get too crazy indoors!
The past few weeks have seen the colliding of two projects that have been a lot of fun, but have also taken up most of my precious free time. Fortunately they are finished and are meeting with successful reviews from the folks who wanted them to happen (and are footing the bill).
The Red Cross tornado safety puppet show “The Wind Around the Toy Box” has a new and improved toy box/ stage which Jeni and I began using this week. Not only are the puppets enjoying all the new space back stage but their puppeteers aren’t consuming quite as much advil these days to keep up with the muscle strain!
Meanwhile, my work at Plum Diore finished up last night with the installation of dozens of sculpted flowers created to match their spring design. A lovely and talented art student named Erin, and I installed these hand crafted forms in the windows of the boutique and also throughout the shop. Tomorrow evening is their big fashion show and party to which all of this has been leading up. Normally I am not into this sort of shin dig. I find I am more comfortable in an old pair of jeans and a soft wool sweater. But the excitement is contagious I guess and I have a new outfit to wear and plan to attend for a little while to see all the models dressed in all the finery. Plus, I hear their hair may be defying gravity. I find this notion intriguing.
My class at the Art Academy of Cincinnati finished up a week or so ago and I was genuinely sad to see it end. I really enjoyed all of my students and was amazed to see how gutsy and adventurous they became with just some cool art supplies and space and time in which to create. It looks like I will be teaching the class again in the fall time frame. I learned as much from my students and teaching this class as I hope they learned from me so I am sure there will be changes and fine tuning that will make the class even richer for those who take it. I am anxious to get back into working in my own sketchbook again in the coming weeks.
Teaching is a constant theme in my life and nowhere is that clearer recently than at home with the pups. They are growing like weeds and getting very strong, especially on walks. I found collars for them that allow the walker to lead the dog by the head, much like a horse, without all the tugging and choking of the usual collars. So we have slowly been adjusting to a new, gentler way of walking around the neighborhood. With all this leash training though, sometimes you just have to go for a romp in the woods, leashes off. In spite of the rain, that is what we did a few days ago. It was well received by all.