This is acrylic on a 24″x 30″ canvas. I took a photo of Olive in a blueberry field on Christy Hill in Sedgwick ME on an overcast day and thought it would make a good composition, if I made up a horizon and cloudy sky.
I noticed something about women’s fashion while working for the Postal Service: many, if not most, blouses, tops, or business attire for women don’t have pockets!
Most of my career was spent in Post Offices where I was the Postmaster or manager, so they were set up for me. I had pens located at a few stations I visited often during the day like the retail window, the desk, or the area set aside for receipt and notification of mail. But, I kept a pen in my pocket for the dozens of other places I would visit throughout the day.… Read the rest “Women, Pens, and Pockets”
I was looking at photos and video from our trip to Maine in July 2016. I wanted to paint these girls playing on a float on Blue Hill Bay in a way that would communicate activity and the passage of time. I decided to create a series of five small paintings in a left-to-right timeline depicting the girls in different positions on the float as they moved from one side to the other, in order to look at a crab they found. But, I was unsure if it would communicate what I wanted — and, that was the downfall of this project.… Read the rest “Sometimes Things Just Don’t Work Out”
Back in 1988, I received my first promotion to become the Postmaster at Camptonville CA. In 2014, I would become the last Postmaster of Camptonville, but that’s another story and another post. This one’s about the failure of musical education in the United States.
I needed a radio for my small rural post office with a good adjustable antenna to pick up stations from the Bay Area. It was June and I went to the local Long’s Drug Store (now, CVS), because they sold consumer electronics at the time. I found a ghetto blaster that looked promising: it had an impressive telescoping antenna, tone controls, headroom, and a cassette player.… Read the rest “The Ghetto Blaster and Classical Music”
I’ve been wanting to return to the blog and have a number of posts in the queue — strange that this will be the first one published since back in March. It’s not a subject I felt compelled to write about in the past, but Denise and I just finished watching the Grateful Dead documentary, Long Strange Trip, on Netflix.
We were real live Deadheads for a short time and this film pulled back the curtain to reveal why we never felt that compatible with the band’s following and eventually lost interest in the Grateful Dead, a band we enthusiastically embraced almost 50 years ago.… Read the rest “It Was A Long Strange Trip”
I knew Winston Churchill was a painter, but only recently heard of his essay, Painting As A Pastime. Former President George W. Bush credited this little book with both his deliverance from “sitting on the couch, eating potato chips” in retirement and awakening in him a newfound passion for art and painting. I thought I’d read the essay online, but The Estate of Winston S. Churchill has a tight hold on the former British Prime Minister’s massive collection of writings and correspondence.
I read the reviews and found this gem on Amazon.com “used” — it was actually new and I picked it up for about the price of a sugary, dairy-based corporate coffee drink.… Read the rest “Winston Churchill On Painting — And, Life”
I’m a new artist and had this conversation with Denise the other day: “My drawing skills are horrible and I’m so impatient that I’m not really observing my subjects at all. After I get going, the process slows me down and I begin seeing everything I missed.” Denise, as she typically does, listened patiently to my exposed inner thoughts and acknowledged my concerns. Then, she continued with her reading. This is a “conversation” we’ve had at least five times over the past couple of months and it was just this last Monday I engaged in the self-flagellation one more time.
My latest urban landscape is Bubba’s Bagels, a familiar sight to most Nevada County residents. It is acrylic on canvas, but I wanted it to have a more printerly look. The colors are all desaturated to some degree with the ultramarine blue of the Arco sign being the closest to a pure hue. I wanted to create interest in a very mundane scene by placing elements exiting the frame in different directions, while drawing the eye into the center of the piece. The actual color scheme of the shop is captivating when you drive by it — so, I tried to get that just right.… Read the rest “Brunswick Basin Urban Landscape”
Sometimes what we call genius is actually the skill involved in paying attention to detail and developing the ability to identify and catalogue information. This is an article of quotes, so I’ll just point you to it: The Art of Observation and Why Genius Lies in the Selection of What Is Worth Observing | Brain Pickings
This year I had two entries in the Fine Arts competition at the Nevada County Fair. I received a Third Place for a Nevada County Scene with my Fudenjuce, which is acrylic on a large reclaimed yard sale canvas. It is one of a number of urban landscapes I am planning for the future. Although I received a third place, I was very happy with the result because I was competing across all skill levels including professionals.
I’ve been struggling over the past year and a half, trying to get a routine down — to optimize my time and get some real work done. I am essentially self-employed now, even if I’m not earning a living by my efforts. Nearly forty years with the US Postal Service and twenty-four years as a bi-vocational pastor kept me working and focused, so there was an imposed structure to my day with objectives and goals to meet, as well as work to be done. Now, I have to plan my own workday, thankful that years of working for the USPS, Denise’s years of contracting and employment, the generosity of others, and personal planning have provided the financial foundation for labors of love that don’t necessarily pay.… Read the rest “WWGRD? The How and Why of Working”
I completed my acrylic painting class about two weeks ago and this was my final project: Olive At Seven. I’m generally pleased with it, although it gave me a bit of trouble in combining white with raw umber and, then, glazing and going to a gray. After encountering that problem, I created swatches and learned that raw umber has some blue in it, evidently. I found that by mixing in a little burnt sienna, it “warms” a bit and will go to a creamier tint. Oh, well. That’s why I’m taking these classes.
Next up are a couple of portraits and then on to my current fascination: urban scenes.… Read the rest “Olive At Seven”
My first acrylic painting class is drawing to a close. This is the first time I’ve put serious energy into painting since high school, over 40 years ago. I’ve learned a lot from our excellent instructor, Sandra Miller, at Sierra College. And, I can’t say enough about the wonderful color theory course I had with Linda Byrne two semesters ago.
One of the most enjoyable projects was a mixed media assignment. I decided to parody (not mock) this familiar Paul Delefsen print, Serenity. Denise found it at the thrift store, heading out to the garbage. We displayed it in our patio each summer, in order to capture the feeling that we were in a cool redwood grove, on hot afternoons.… Read the rest “T Rex Menacing Legoland”
Well, it’s been over a month since my last post. A few things have conspired to keep me away from writing.
First, a friend of the family was hit by necrotizing fasciitis, the flesh-eating bacteria. It’s so rare, I never thought I would know someone, personally, who would be stalked by this deadly foe. He is a young man, received a timely bit of advice from his pharmacist and a quick diagnosis by his first surgeon and, then, he was off to an excellent hospital. He’s come through with flying colors. Today, he just learned that his grafts had taken very well and he’ll be going home Friday, after a month in the hospital.… Read the rest “Back To The Blog”
I used to tell people, jokingly, that I spared them from necrotizing fasciitis because, statistically, it’s so rare that they will only meet one person with this disease in their lifetime. Well, I can’t say that again as a personal family/friend has just passed through the worst of a bout with that nasty, cruel bacteria. His elbow and arm were affected and he has made it through the worst. It looks like the infection is under control and his surgeon has just grafted his affected area and the grafts took. So, he’ll be going home this Friday.
He’s pretty beat up, but rallying back.… Read the rest “The Impossible Just Became Possible”
I’m back in school again, taking an acrylic painting class and a publication design course, learning Adobe InDesign. The strategy at this point is to take courses I need to move forward in my new career: writing, designing, laying out, and publishing books that hardly anyone will read, aimed at niche audiences, interested in obscure subjects. Doesn’t that sound super-bohemian?
the practice of an unconventional lifestyle, often in the company of like-minded people, with few permanent ties, involving musical, artistic, or literary pursuits. In this context, Bohemians may be wanderers, adventurers, or vagabonds.
I’m feeling hipper and groovier by the moment.… Read the rest “Back To School”
Back in October, I wrote about an injury to my reconstructed left leg that left a hole over my superior and inferior retinaculam (top of my foot, at the ankle), which revealed my tendon, sliding back and forth, as I moved my foot (shivers). As a necrotizing fasciitis survivor, one becomes something of a wound care specialist and, though I’ve gotten along treating myself for nearly 20 years, this one required more expertise than I have.
So, I visited my general practitioner to get a referral to a plastic surgeon, because I felt a graft may be required. But, the wound began coming together by that time and my GP was able to really help it out with some minor surgery in his office.… Read the rest “Wound Care Specialist”
I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens, last night, in 3-D.
I am not a Star Wars, Sci-fi or fantasy geek. I have been an audio geek and a Bible nerd, but I don’t know if geek or nerd are appropriate labels, if you are enthusiastic about one of the most popular and lucrative entertainment franchises in the history of the world. I tend to associate geeks and nerds with outsider movements. Anyway, I’ve been pretty hard on hardcore Star Wars fans in the past (see my take at Star Wars: It Really Matters What You Believe). But, I’m no hater and have the greatest love and respect for the franchise. … Read the rest “Star Wars: The Force Awakens • A Review”
Many men wish their handwriting was better and I’m one of them. This primer, How to Improve Penmanship, at The Art of Manliness, “will teach you everything you need to know about improving your cursive penmanship.” At least, that’s their claim. I have this notion that by training my mind, eyes, and hands to improve my penmanship, other skills I’m cultivating will follow. There are indications that writing by hand improves your cognitive abilities, but I’m hoping my art and creative writing will also benefit. We shall see. One specific writing skill I would like to acquire is the draftsman or architectural style of writing.… Read the rest “How to Improve Penmanship | The Art of Manliness”
This past week, I came to the realization that I’m probably not a coffee drinker. I like coffee drinks or drinks made with coffee, but not coffee by itself. My wife Denise roasts beans for us and does a great job. We have electric and hand burr grinders, a french press outfit, pour-over device, an aeropress, and a Cuisinart drip coffee maker. Until recently, we had a Krupps espresso maker. So, there’s no excuse for my not being a true coffee drinker — I have only my own taste buds to blame.
How did I come to this shocking realization? A couple weeks ago, I decided to start drinking my coffee black and enjoy the essence of the bean without admixture or adulteration of the ebony nectar by dairy products and sweeteners.… Read the rest “Confession: I’m Not A Coffee Drinker”
This week I’ll be heading back to the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Wound Healing and Hyperbaric Medicine Center to consult with a plastic surgeon on the skin ulcer over the tendon on my foot. A couple weeks ago, I was leaning toward a full-thickness skin graft to cover the area and get some more tissue over the tendon. Now, the wound is healing well and I’ll be surprised if the plastics man will suggest a graft. It’s looking good.
For those of us with extensive injuries from necrotizing fasciitis, this is part of a life-long process that can often be discouraging or downright depressing.… Read the rest “A Lifelong Process”
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a wound I have on my tendon. I visited my GP and he did a bit of minor surgery and wound care on the hole over my tendon. It’s looking really good. But, he’s consulting with a plastic surgeon to see if I may need a full-thickness graft over the area. If I do have surgery, it would be the first since I left the hospital back in 1998. I had amazing results in the reconstruction of my leg and didn’t have to return to cover problem areas or releases on the keloid scarring around my joints.… Read the rest “Skin Graft?”
I have to concur with the writer, that “racking up mile after mile is difficult, mind-expanding, and hypnotic—just like putting words down on a page.” But, it’s also energizing and freeing to be out on the road, around town or through the woods, working out ideas and problems, step by step, mile by mile.
… Read the rest “Why Do So Many Writers Love to Run?”
Freedom, consciousness, and wildness: Running offers writers escape with purpose. When confronted with “structural problems” in her writing as the result of a “long, snarled, frustrating and sometimes despairing morning of work,” Joyce Carol Oates would ease her writing blocks with afternoon runs. For Oates and many other writers, running is process and proves especially useful for the type of cloistered, intensive work they do.
Denise has always wanted to visit the garden island of Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands. So, we flew over earlier this month. I thought I would try paddle-board surfing while we were there and Hanalei Bay is ideally suited for a first timer. However, a day or so before we went north, I put on my fins to swim around Salt Pond Beach Park near Port Allen. When I left the water and pulled off my bootie, I found that the scarring over the tendon at my ankle had torn and I was trailing a lot of blood. This had never happened before while swimming, body-surfing or sponge-riding. … Read the rest “Torn Flesh, Rejoicing, Giving Thanks, and Praying”
Surviving the flesh-eating bacteria is an ongoing process. Once you make it past the initial 72 hours and find yourself still in the land of the living, dealing with the sometimes devastating effects can be challenging, whether the wounds are great or small. Often, I’ll post stories about those who have overcome incredible loss from this disease and, in light of their challenges, I see my wounds as being on the small end of the spectrum.
Denise has always wanted to visit the garden island of Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands. So, we flew over there earlier this month. I thought I would try paddle-board surfing while we were there and Hanalei Bay is ideally suited for a first timer.… Read the rest “Overcoming Necrotizing Fasciitis: It’s A Process”