This is Baby Monkey. My little girl’s best buddy. Her constant companion for the better part of her life. So loved is Baby Monkey that I worried about her safety, constantly checking to see that she hadn’t been left behind at stores, hotels, airports. The perfect size to clutch in a chubby little 3-year-old fist, she went everywhere with us.
But my little girl isn’t 3 anymore. She’s 6. Tall, headstrong, funny, bold. Baby Monkey stays home most of the time nowadays, no longer making trips to the grocery store and school. Recently, though, after a long day out my daughter said, “I want to go home. I want to go home and see Baby Monkey.”
I just finished this commission and I love it. It’s unlike anything else I’ve ever done. However, it began the way many of my paintings began.
It began with love.
A couple. A wedding in an exotic locale surrounded by the people that love them best. And flowers. Beautiful flowers.
Five years later, that wedding is a marriage- no longer just a celebratory statement of love, but a daily, quiet, steady, continual recommitment to a relationship with kids, a mortgage, and all the trappings. And through that weekday love, the memory of that wedding, and those flowers, glows bright.
Five years. The flower anniversary. As a gift to each other they chose this: a daily reminder to hang in the heart of their home of that beautiful day, that embrace of family and friends, and those flowers.
Hello there stranger! How the heck are ya? Do you even remember me? I’m sure that’s questionable. Remember in my last post I promised you that I would tell you soon what was keeping me so busy. Apparently I lied. I apologize.
See here’s the deal. I had a baby! I say that like it just happened. Oh no. It wasn’t recent. It was so long ago now I’m embarrassed to say. Embarrassed because while a new baby might be a reason to neglect a blog, a 20-month-old, despite the fact that he’s into everything, seems like less of an excuse. The thing is that while I expected that to mean extra work, no one told me that the craziness increases exponentially with each child so that 2 children is somehow through some mathematical mystery 4 times the work. I would imagine that people with 6 children never ever stop moving and never take in any sustenance but the last drops in the bottom of a juice box and the 1/2 a chicken nugget child #4 dropped on the floor that the dog failed to notice. So hats off to those of you that make multiple children look easy. But I digress. Where was I? Ah yes. Kid x 2= Work². However, it’s also Fun², so while there’s extra cleaning messes, laundry, correcting, containing, and refereeing, etc; there’s also extra snuggling, kissing, teaching, learning, and laughing. It’s good. It’s great! But it is busy.
I am very happy to say, though, that work as been busy as well. I’ve done several commissions which I have really really enjoyed. I love the collaboration involved in helping someone flesh out what they want in a painting and bringing it to life. My commissions have ranged from an oil painting done from an old photograph of the client and her mother, to a traditional portrait, to a portrait of a beloved stuffed bunny, to tiny boots and baby knees (plus a couple of pet portraits not shown here). The work has been varied, but so so good with each piece presenting its own challenges, learning opportunities, and rewards. I’ll probably go into detail about some of these in future posts, but for now here’s a brief glimpse of what I’ve been up to since the new kid came along:
I love my husband for a zillion reasons. He can make me mad faster and laugh harder than anyone I know, sometimes simultaneously. He makes a mean hamburger, pot of chili, poached egg, margarita, or whatever else he wants. He’s solid. He’s trustworthy. He’s generous and loyal to those he loves almost to a fault. He’ll make you mad. He’ll drive you crazy. But when push comes to shove he’s got your back if you’re one the ones lucky enough to be called family or friend.
The reason, though, at this particular moment I so love my husband is the mess in our house. It’s my mess. It’s art mess. Our house is not big. My easel is. Currently three rooms of our house hold canvases that may not, under any circumstances, be moved. There’s an easel in our “dining area” right next to his chair. There’s a reference drawing tacked (literally tacked) to the wall beside the window. However, my husband (whose hyperbolic diatribes regarding annoyances inflicted by the rest of humanity are almost legendary) doesn’t say a word about the art supplies taking over our house. He just turns scoots his chair over, looks at the painting, and complements my day’s work.
Behind every artist is someone willing to overlook some mess.
It’s cold. Our flannel sheets make it hard to leave the bed. The air outside makes it hard to leave the house. This southern girl is spoiled. I know that Bostonians and Minnesota natives would laugh at me huddled here in my soft Black Crowes sweatshirt, hugging my coffee cup and longing to turn up the heat. Laugh away. I’m ready for spring.
Flipping through my journal this morning I found this watercolor I painted last summer of my little girl and me at the water’s edge. I can feel the warm sand between my toes and the setting sun on my back. For just a moment I am there, and I am reminded that spring will come again.
Love to paint but want to try something new? Try painting on metal! To promote an upcoming class at Samford Academy of the Arts, as promised I’ll be posting pictures of paintings I’ve done on metal such as copper or aluminum. Here’s another one of my favorites:
New Beginnings, 20″x24″, Oil on aluminum
This painting won “Best In Show” a couple of years back at the Birmingham Art Association’s annual competition. The thing I love about painting on metal is the luminosity you can achieve. I often paint on traditional supports such as linen and canvas as well, however with metal you don’t have to compete with the texture of the fabric below. No matter how many layers of paint you add, the shine of the metal seems to glow through.
As I sit here, hands poised over the keys, reaching out to you, my friends in cyber-space, something weighs on my mind that I think you must know about me.
I’m not into this computer thing.
Yep. I said it. On my blog. The irony is clear to me. But it’s true. It’s just not my thing.
My husband has online calendars that he refers me to and reminders set-up on his phone for different events, but those things just will not jive with my brain. Words on a screen- be they reminders, events, meetings, birthdays, etc. just pass through my head like smoke leaving me feeling a little lost and confused (picture the tilted head and furrowed brow of a quizzical golden retriever) and unsure of how I could be this disorganized with so many organizational tools at my virtual fingertips. (And how I could have forgotten your birthday AGAIN despite the fact that I found you the perfect gift 4 months ago).
But give me a pen and paper and aaaah… life makes a little more sense. Perhaps my ego is in the way of progress (“If I did not create it with my own two hands then it does not exist!”) or perhaps it’s my artist brain. Visual artists are, at the core, manual workers. Our brains and hands must work together.
So this post was first written out by hand. That way I know you’ll see it. Because that way I know it’s real.
My apologies and thanks to the trees for supporting my antiquated paper habit. I promise to recycle the evidence.