Thursday, May 28, 2009

He Had Me

People may not know this about me, but I am drawn to the nerdy, artistic type. Have been all my life. There's just something about a man who is oddly, uniquely, and wonderfully geeky and who can express himself through the arts. I just happened to land myself that kind of man, though many people may not know it.

My husband is a surprising combination of funny, intellect, sarcasm, wisdom, cynicism, compassion, and creativity. Only few people have been exposed to the artistic talents that this man has. But, ah, lucky you, I am going to share a few of his hidden talents.

On my twenty-sixth birthday, the very month we started dating, Jason drew me this picture.
Jason's Art

The moment I laid my eyes on it, I knew I could love this man. See the detail in the picture? The boy pays attention to details and recognizes beauty. Besides, I am a sucker for handmade gifts.

After four months of dating, Jason drew me this picture.
Jason's Art 3

It's still one of my favorite pictures to date. Mind you, we've never actually sat on a swing together, but don't you think love is like that? At least new love is - swinging in a tree with your initials carved into it.

And though he does not draw much any more, I still have other treasures to share.

I'm not certain of the impetus for the following drawing, but I find it striking with its use of color and diagonal pencil strokes. It makes me want to wish upon a star.
Jason's Art 4

The next picture was given to me by his mother at Easter. It was a piece Jason created in high school. He said it was garbage because of a minor mistake he made on it during its creation, but I could not bare to throw it away. I found it interesting, imperfections and all.
Jason's Art 2

It hangs in my office at work and reminds me of the incredible patience he has.

I am trying to encourage him to do another piece for me - my favorite portrait of us from our wedding. I know he has it in him. I just hope he's willing to bring it to fruition.
And They Lived Happily Ever After

"Hide not your talents. They for use were made. What's a sundial in the shade?" -Benjamin Franklin

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lyric Fever

The power of a song. Words that move you, set to various rhythms and tempos, putting a soul to the intangible emotions we have. Melodies that capture the human experience. Lyrics that so accurately define a moment for all of us. That is the power of a song.

For our monthly journal meeting at work, I asked members to bring along lyrics to their favorite song. I also brought various art supplies to the meeting (scrapbook paper, paints, and markers), so that the group could capture a favorite lyric from their songs in the form of a poster. I got the inspiration for this visual display of words from the site, Kiss the Paper. The sisters who collaborate and maintain this blog are given a topic every week in which to post responses to one another. The topic for Week 32 of this year long project was "What's Your Theme Song?"

Sarah McLachlan Lyrics

Sarah McLachlan - "Into the Fire"
The topic got me thinking about lyrics and how they can inspire and make one feel connected to the world. I often have music playing in the background when I am painting or drawing, so why not catch these lyrics like fireflies and allow them to light up our minds as well as our ears?

When I told the group about my project idea, they had mixed reactions. Some had trouble picking one song as a favorite. And understandably so. It's like asking a mother to choose her favorite child. The songs we love are so unique and different and satisfy different purposes in our lives, it's hard to pick just one.

Procol Harum Lyrics

Procol Harum - "A Whiter Shade of Pale"

One member in our group expressed that she was a lyric junkie. She cataloged lyrics in her mind to help her define so many experiences in her life. I could totally relate. Hearing a particular song, a particular lyric, can bring me back to a moment in my past. "Rikki Don't Lose My Number" by Steely Dan helps to me remember my biological father and the love of seventies smooth rock that he passed on to me. "Little Jackie" by Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam makes me think about the summers I spent in Jacksonville learning how to skate with my best friend, Kyla, when I was ten years old. "I Could Fall in Love" by Selena reminds me of my first kiss on the beach in Emerald Isle when I was seventeen years old. "Sunday Morning" by Maroon Five brings me back to when I first started dating my husband and all the driving I did between Burlington and Chapel Hill in our first month of dating. All of these songs, and so many more, help me to remember my life.

K.T. Tunstall Lyrics

K.T. Tunstall - "Miniature Disasters"

What would the soundtrack of my life look like, I wonder? If you could create the soundtrack of your life, what would be on it, and what would each song signify? Sounds like a new project in the making... Although I suspect, it will take several volumes for me to complete it, but oh, what a trip down memory lane it would be!

Joni Mitchell Lyrics

Joni Mitchell - "Both Sides Now"
"Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."
- Berthold Auerbach

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Dancing with Paint

I think I want to get back to painting again.

"Well... just do it."

It should be that easy, right? I mean, I have paint and I have brushes. So what's the hold up?

Time to Finish What I Started

UPDATE: See the finished paintings here.

I have these four orange canvases that have been haunting me ever since I started them last April. I can see the finished product in my mind, but I have just been so neglectful of them. Painting never used to be this arduous for me. I used to paint a lot. I used to write a lot, too. But then my heart was broken so badly that I almost thought I would never recover. A long bout of depression kept me from doing a lot of things in my mid-twenties. I had given up simple pleasures like painting and writing because I felt there was nothing left inside of me to share or to celebrate. But slowly, over time, I recovered. My heart healed, and I began to revive all those bits of me that had seemed so lost.

Heart Torn

I was the same and, yet, I was different - ever changed from that experience. For those who are close to me, they know me as that happy-go-lucky gal who sometimes has a bite to her. They know that bite wasn't always there. The scarring from being cast away so and the strength to overcome it was what put it there. What seemed like misfortune at the time was actually the universe pointing me in a different direction and a different destiny. And though its been quite some time since those days of self pity and self loathing, I am ready to find myself again through that intimate dance between brush and paint. Too long have I allowed the shadow of that memory to suppress the joy I once had. I am ready to dance again.

I think this weekend would be as good a time as any to finally put soul into those canvases. With a quiet house, some hot tea, and a selection of dewy tunes playing in the background, I should be in business.

Smiling Bun

"Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it
the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit."
- Napoleon Hill

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Handmade Market

Today I made my way downtown to attend the Handmade Market semiannual event. Just as the website explains, it "features a juried selection of the best and brightest artists, independent designers, and crafters from NC and beyond." There was no fee to attend, but you could purchase a raffle ticket to win a glorious goodie bag filled with handmade items. All the proceeds go to sponsoring SAFEchild, an organization that works with families to prevent child abuse. Art and a good cause? You know I had to go.

The Handmade Market

The vendors that attended the event were amazing. There were so many skilled artisans there, and many were willing to tell you about their work without pushing their products on you. There was an array of goods from handbags to jewelry to clothing to desserts. I wish I could have taken everything home with me, but, alas, I could not. However, I did score some awesome goodies for myself. (I even picked up some treats for Buddy and Bailey.)

My Score of Goodies

There is something that can be said about handmade goods - they are just so special because you know you getting something that is one of a kind. And as much as I love to buy these items, I am just as inspired to make them as well. I think that is a part of our culture that is slowing starting to make a comeback. As we begin to realize the effects consumerism has on the environment and on our way of life, it feels good to get back to a time when making something from scratch was a good thing. And besides, it just feels darn good.

Not sure you have what it takes to participate in the handmade revolution? Then check out Etsy and support local artists in your area by purchasing handmade goods as gifts for others to enjoy. Want to try some DIY projects? I recommend starting with Jeffrey Yamaguchi's book, 52 Projects. Not only does it have assignments to spark the inner artist in you, but the listing of DIY projects range from the literary to the artistic to the culinary.

In Search of Art

Happy creating!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Remembering Mrs. Baggett

The other day, I went out to lunch with my friend Jeanine to catch up on the things that girls discuss when they haven't seen each other in a while. We talked about our husbands, her son, our families, our health, and then we touched upon the topic of math.

Yuck... Math. Jeanine and I both feel the same way about math. We know what we need to know to get by, but it isn't a subject or a skill we've bothered to maintain beyond basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For Jeanine, she's facing the deeper realms of math to prepare for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). You see, she's on her way to pursuing her doctorate, and, unfortunately, one of the areas that the GRE assesses is math.

"I can't even do multiplication [in my head] past eleven," Jeanine said.

"Neither can I," I admitted.

But Jeanine revealed that there was hope. She had a tutor who was brilliant at math but did not have the typical linear mind of a math person. Instead, he was able to explain complex concepts in a way that she could understand. His lessons were really helping her to prepare for the exam.

Justifying our mutual dislike of math, I tried to relate. "I think my inability to do math goes back to the third grade," I confessed to Jeanine. "It was in third grade that I had Mrs. Baggett. While the other kids were doing math, I was decorating the classroom door with my drawings. She even paid for me to have art lessons. And that is the reason I can't do math," I joked.

"Did you ever think that she is the one to thank for your love of art?" Jeanine asked.

Purple Paint

I was dumbstruck. I think I've told that story a dozen times. I've described how the other children in my class were using paper clips to measure objects while I prepared a scene of Brier Rabbit on the door for a door decorating contest. And my story would often end with "...and that's why I can't do math."

But I rarely revealed why Mrs. Baggett paid for me to take after school art lessons. I was being raised by a single father, and after school lessons were a luxury that we couldn't afford. Mrs. Baggett, who had always been fond of my drawings, decided that paying for art lessons was something she wanted to provide for me. She bought me a set of new lead pencils, a sketch pad, and an art eraser. She informed me that I would be taking real art lessons after school with a real art teacher. "You are a talented young lady, little miss," she told me.

I treasured the new art supplies and would eagerly show her what I had learned to draw after each lesson. She often asked me to draw people in the school to display on the concrete wall behind her desk, and I gladly complied. She would often tell me that she wanted to take me home and adopt me. Mrs. Baggett was a nurturing soul who made me feel special. I lived for pleasing this woman with my art. However, at the end of my third grade year, we moved to Arizona, and my days of after school art lessons were over.

When I think of her now, a smile often comes across my face. She saw something in me, even at such a young age, that I still have difficulty seeing -- the potential do something great with art. And though I may not have thanked her in the past, I thank her now for the wonderful memories she has given me. In a small way, I still want to please her. Thank you, Mrs. Baggett, where ever you are.

A Monkey for Jennie

"The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings."
- Eric Hoffer


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