January 31, 2011


My mother took care of my bangs when I was a little girl. Every so many weeks I would sit down with a sheet wrapped around me, and my mother would snip away. She is quite the perfectionist, so if she thought the bangs were crooked, she would rectify that with another couple of snips, and for good measure a couple more. I don't know if it was fashionable at the time, but I went through my early life with really short bangs.

January 28, 2011

Stand still and you move backwards.

Oh dear. I know I am in a bad relationship........with my cell phone. We started out amicably enough and it seemed like such a wonderful thing to have him around all the time but over the years, I have become a little unsure. Of course, he comes to my rescue when I have a flat tire, and calls AAA or when I am running late for an appointment. But he demands a lot of attention, by playing that annoying little tune, that I always mean to change and never do. Just when I am totally engrossed in something he will pipe up and then I have to find him. He is usually in his favorite place, at the bottom of my bag. There are days when I suddenly realize that it has been awfully quiet for a long time and then find him in the car, sulking, his little belly flashing an angry red light.

Perhaps it's not so much my cell phone that I am no longer enamored with but his family. Sit down to dinner with company in a nice restaurant and a member of his family is often placed in a prominent position, as if it were another piece of vital cutlery. They then jingle, and even though not answered, there is still that little gap in the conversation as eyes glance down to see who is on the line. "What was that you were saying?". 
Worse still is when the cell phone becomes an accessory, held in the hand at all times, just in case a vital call comes in which they invariably do. "Oh, I am in line at the store, what are you doing?". 

So here I am. I no longer like him or his extended family since they have taken over like little alien beings, infiltrating almost every aspect of our lives. It's unavoidable, we will be sucked into their big black hole whether we like it or not and all end up talking in Tweets.

The photo was taken here in the Southwest, before going digital and still used my Minolta and would develop my own photos in the darkroom. Check the picture for bullet holes.

January 25, 2011

Rice paper and powder.

Several years ago I found a little box at the drugstore, which quite amazingly was empty and yet for sale. It was a pretty box and I have a 'thing' for little boxes, so by the time I walked out the door, the pretty box was mine. It was an ideal container for the nibs for my ink pens, but in reality its purpose was just to be pretty.
I have always wanted to draw the picture on the box and now I have.

If I ever thought I had found a treasure, then I was wrong. I have since discovered that the box is an ordinary commercial item and still being sold. When opening the box it should have contained little sheets of rice paper with rice powder to blot a shiny nose. Still, I am perfectly happy with my box, empty or not, because every time I look at it, it feeds my imagination.

These are more the real colors. The scanner made some changes of it's own. 

Paper: Strathmore Bristol smooth 260gsm
Paint: Winsor & Newton Designers Gouache, Micron 01
Brush: No. 6 Loew-Cornell
Technique: Gouache, crosshatch shading
Level of enjoyment while making: high

January 23, 2011

EDM Challenge 185.

When we bought a house in France we didn’t realize that the purchase price included 15 cats. There seemed to be cats everywhere: snoozing in the shade, under one of the many rose bushes, sitting on the wall blinking in the sun or making a dash for it as we approached.
I had never thought about cats as anything else than pets and had no idea that half-wild or feral cats existed.

It also took a few days for us to understand that this was an enormously incestuous little clowder. Down the road lived a stringy tom who was the granddaddy of them all and who would make his rounds to his harem several times a day. Our own (neutered) cat only watched from a safe distance or came indoors with a disgusted air that said, “I want no part in this”. It was all a little too uncivilized for his taste, I believe.

After the second litter had arrived, I decided that it was time return all the cats and whenever there was an opportunity I would put on ‘the gloves’ hoping that I would be successful at catching cat and putting it in a box to take it three villages down to it’s owners. Every so many days I would make the journey with a box containing a snarling, scratching cat on the seat beside me and show up at their door.

It was a cold, wet and windy April night when I looked out of the window and saw a cat crawling out of the neighbor’s basement and making a wild dash to our side of the road.

When I later went to look in the laundry room that we used as a potting shed, there were three kittens in a corner on a sack, their eyes still closed. This was the litter that stayed, although their Mother Mimi was later delivered to her rightful owners, who managed a sour smile, because I don’t think they really wanted me to return their cats and were wondering when this would stop. Mimi was the last.

My brother adopted the two males and called them Mad Max and Dirty Harry, I kept the little gray female.

In the drawing Dirty Harry and my little gray kitten share a basket. She was with me for 19 years.

Challenge 185: Draw a cat. 
I decided to try the dreaded watercolors again, and ended up using them as I would gouache. Not quite the intention. The paper is 300 gsm, cold pressed Fabriano watercolor paper, which contains 25% cotton. For a brush I used a medium Niji waterbrush.
The watercolor paint is Pelican. For watercolor I prefer a box because tubes of paint can dry out seeing I do so few watercolors. Seeing that the paint isn't really very transparent I must have the box with opaque paint. All Dick Blick.

Listened to "Staying On" by Paul Scott, author of "The Jewel in The Crown".
In this sequel to The Raj Quartet, Colonel Tusker and Lucy Smalley stay on in the hills of Pankot after Indian independence deprives them of their colonial status. Finally fed up with accommodating her husband, Lucy claims a degree of independence herself. Eloquent and hilarious, she and Tusker act out class tensions among the British of the Raj and give voice to the loneliness, rage, and stubborn affection in their marriage.Staying On won the Booker Prize and was made into a motion picture starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson in 1979.

January 20, 2011



I had been to Mexico, which is only about 15 minutes away, but decided to eat in my favorite downtown Mexican restaurant anyway, where everything is authentic, including the decor. More authentic than the restaurants in the little town over the border that cater to our winter visitors.

For some time I had been thinking of having some tongue.  My grandmother would make marinaded tongue for sandwiches now and again. Lengua (tongue) is on the menu of most good Mexican restaurants and that's what I ordered.

As I waited I remembered that my grandmother would never allow me to peek in the pan while the tongue was boiling, because tongue can look rather unappetizing during preparation.

When my plate was put before me, I blinked a couple of times and  immediately knew that I was in for an adventure. Here was tongue in a very authentic state, with unidentifiable bits and bobs here and there, and some of the skin attached. It looked nothing like the succulent, thin slices of  marinaded meat of my grandmother's table.

I was as brave as I could be, and inwardly scolded myself for being such a big baby as I gingerly nibbled at my food. Perhaps next time, I should order  enchiladas like every self-respecting gringa. 

January 18, 2011

EDM Challenge 293

This is not recent work but I had recently scanned it. It is made on gesso layered with Indian Ink and scratched out so that you get a negative effect, which works very well for something made of glass.

January 16, 2011

EDM Challenge 304

Just a quick doodle to draw a bow and to use the watercolor pencils I have had in my drawer for as long as I can remember. "Everyday Matters" makes me want to do things I have not done before, and I think that this is what it is all about.

January 15, 2011

Paper Cut Collage. Moon in Pond.

So why make things easy when you can make them hard? This project started off quite innocently. Someone had given me Mexican chocolate and I saved the wrappers. Then one evening last week I make a fish. 
I quickly draw a fish on cardstock and painstakingly stick little pieces of wrapper paper on it.
Then I decide to make a pond. Of course, I first cut the waterlily pads because that's fun to do with some cardstock I had in my stack.
As I go along I make a rippled moon and decide to make my own background. 

I realize that for the lay-out I want, I need a background sheet of 30x35 cm, so I texturize 2 Yupo pages with ink and watercolors. I have little experience with Yupo and the experience I do have does not make me grab it often (I am not a watercolorist). However, this works really well and I use a sponge brush, a sponge roller and a little natural sponge (very spongy all this) to make something that looks like water.

In order to make it look like one sheet, I cut (I use an exacto) one side of one sheet in a wave pattern; paste my Yupo sheets to a cracker box for support, and paste down the various elements.
I also paste some of the snippets that I cut out to blend the two pages in the collage adding a little more dimension. Then I discover that I cannot seem to shoot a good picture of the finished project without trying out six different ways and still not succeeding.

What did I learn?
Do not use candy wrappers in a project that will take many hours to make. 
Candy wrapper paper does not look great on a photo.
Cracker boxes give excellent support in a pinch.
Yupo is nice after all. Here is my first attempt. It makes good backgrounds and offers me new possibilities now.
I really like paper cutting. Yupo cutting might be even better because you glide right through.

I listened to "A Murderous Procession" by Ariana Franklin, downloaded at Audible.com while working on this project.

National best-selling author Ariana Franklin resumes her Mistress of the Art of Death series with A Murderous Procession. In 1176, King Henry II's daughter is set to marry the king of Sicily. But when several wedding guests are murdered during the procession, Adelia must uncover who is behind the killings and who is the killer's real target. 

January 9, 2011

Left or Right?

My cupboards and closets are usually tidy, my table-tops not so much. I have no concern about driving with my fuel light blinking. I remember faces for years and years, surprising people that I can place whenever I first met them. I don't remember names. My sense of time, it has been proven time and time again, is non-existent. Yet, I am a planner and a list-maker. Visual and verbal are equally present in me. I use my hands a lot when I speak. I am very patient, especially with people, but very spontaneous in many things. Some of my best travel destinations were decided in 30 minutes and the ticket bought the same day.

All in all, I am right brain dominant.

Please don't ask me to do the same thing over and over again, so that I might become proficient in it, because boredom will most certainly set in, and with boredom comes distraction, and once distracted, you have lost me.
My mother, who is neat and structured, tried for many years to teach me how to sew my own clothes. I would have the most wonderful time sketching what I wanted my dress to look like, go out, chose the fabric, but when I started sewing I used that same wild enthusiasm, which would not work out quite as well. It always resulted in me having to undo seams and buttonholes, and eventually  in frustration. My mother would give me her 'little look' and end up making the dress, finishing it in fine, little stitches. How could it be that her daughter couldn't do this?

Left brain versus right brain, but we didn't know that then.

The picture of the Mexican tiled stairs was made in Tucson. Such a neat and structured pattern.


January 2, 2011

A Glowing New Year.

I added some glow to the New Year by using Chinese joss paper in which to cut some portals, like the ones you see in Yemen. Let's see what this year will bring.


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