Category Archives: art

A House with a Sense of Humor…yes.

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For Turkey Day, I thought I’d share a dining room tour with P. Allen Smith. It is the home of the artist Rebecca Thompson, whose studio I featured yesterday. There are so many design elements I admire and ascribe to, especially the personal touches that delight the senses…home is, after all, heaven for beginners.

Listen to the details that this design genius points out; I always learn from him. Enjoy your dining today…XO

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A Physical Representaion of Her Soul

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Where do I begin to talk about this creative genius? Again, one of my guilty pleasures (which I never actually feel guilty about) is watching the You Tube channel ehow home of P. Allen Smith. I have never had the privilege of meeting this man, but I love him nonetheless…

He has about two hundred educational videos posted, and they comprise a “how-to” for home life. Many of them don’t interest me. I don’t plan on raising chickens or ducks, but there are so many great ideas. What a fabulous way to spend a snowy morning.

Here he showcases an artist’s studio, a subject I’ve been threatening to feature in my blog for months now. So, let’s get started with this, but do yourself a favor and click over to You Tube and watch more of his wonderful videos! You’ll be glad you did…

Living In Art

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One of my favorite guilty pleasures is the Canadian shelter magazine House and Home. Lucky for us, they also boast a television program available online at houseandhome.com/tv as well as a YouTube channel…(insert THANK GOD for technology here.)

This morning, watching some of the hundreds of videos available, I came across this terrific illustration of living in your artwork, and how dramatically it can effect the space around you…enjoy the next five minutes, and then, go play house…

The fourth vignette makes MY heart skip a beat…which is your favorite?

Anything You Want To…

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Since divorcing two years ago now, I have dated one gentleman who liked to correct me about my “magical thinking.” It prompted me to evaluate what that meant, and whether or not it was a bad habit to be eradicated – like smoking, or speaking poor English. I have now decided: I am a magical thinker.

It occurs to me that magical thinking allows for anything to be possible. It affirms that reality is not limited by the perception of the five senses, but broadly utilizes the imagination to define it’s environment. Magical thinking is intuitive. I am intuitive.

Most of my life people have commented that I was living a charmed life; I never thought about it consciously, and I didn’t know what they meant. They recognized that something quite undefinable was happening: that I would think of something, and it would come to be. I can’t explain that. But I have also met many (mostly men!) who thought of me as unreasonable – because you can’t talk me out of my fantastical magical thinking. It is my personal experience of reality.

Friends would call asking for things they needed or wanted, and puzzled, I would wonder why they were asking ME for these things…”Well”, they would say, “you manifest anything you think of. So manifest me two wing back chairs this weekend, would you, please?” And I would shake my head as if they were looney, and go off to brunch at a co-workers house. Pulling in the driveway, my co-worker and his partner would be dragging two lovely wing back chairs out to the curb in hopes someone would pick them up…and instead load them into the back of my car. An hour or so later I was pulling into the friend’s drive who had called that morning, with her chair delivery. This kind of thing happens regularly. Magical, I guess. Or is it?

I can’t help but wonder if, in fact, this isn’t just NATURAL thinking. It never occurred to me that things didn’t work this way all the time for everyone…until much later in life. If I try to REASON this, it goes away. So, I no longer try to reason. Maybe reason works for some people, maybe some of us are wired differently. Beats me! I’m willing to deliver the chairs…I am an unreasonable, intuitive, magical thinker.

“Living there, you’ll be free…”

For Steven.

Red, Green, Blue, Yellow, White….

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“Only painting counts.” – Camille Pissaro

Now just a few months shy of coming full circle in my year at home, I whittle away at the enormous task of putting my house right after the Smoking Sociopaths moved out and the potential sales have all but evaporated…

Thank You Nancy Allen for sending me the Apartment Therapy article about ridding the house of cigarette smell…daunting, but I have incorporated most of these helpful methods, and it is abating…next week our weather is due to be, once again, unseasonably cool. I will use the suggestion of running the furnace with it’s new filter and all of the windows open. I have had all the carpets replaced or cleaned, the duct work cleaned, have thoroughly scrubbed down all of the ceilings and walls with vinegar, and have now repainted…since the above mentioned moved out just three weeks ago. It has been a lot like work.

Let me just mention that as the profit from the house sale will be my payment for this labor, I am sure to be losing substantially…lucky for me, I LOVE THIS WORK!!! Well…I love the painting and I love the sheer joy of arranging and putting together interior environments…I feel like I am gluing together one big delightful collage to live within…with purpose – the purpose of supporting and encouraging the creative life of a budding artist- in this case, me…(Insert big smile here.)

And as Mies van der Rohe said, “God is in the details…” Tell ’em, Mrs. Blandings…

I “borrowed” this video from one of my very favorite blogs, Content In A Cottage…all’s fair in love and art…

“You’ve Had the Power All Along, My Dear…”

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I am an artist struggling with where I belong in the world. I am an artist like Isabel is a witch in the movie “Bewitched”…like Vianne is a gypsy in Chocolat…like Sally in Practical Magic…it is no use pretending to be anything else. Of course, these are movie characters and I am not. It is much harder to actually try to live outside of your nature on a daily basis.

These movies are hilarious and poignant in their depiction of  women trying to fit into their surroundings – to be something they are not – because the world is afraid of their power. Every mature woman on this planet knows all too well what THAT feels like. This is why movies about witches are so successful…(that’s my working theory…)

I don’t remember drawing as a young child, but my Mother told me I began to draw as soon as I could hold a pencil…long before I started grade school…I entertained myself, my younger siblings…I explained my world.

But these days I struggle with everything: my health, my emotional intensity, my house on the market, my financial stress…I no longer know my place in the world. I don’t seem to know much anymore…(but I know everything you never wanted to know about moving as my house is for sale!) I am displacing my elderly Father who has become increasingly more difficult to live with. What made me think this could work? I couldn’t live with him growing up, and left home at fifteen – albeit to boarding school. That was an ultimatum that I presented my parents with, by the way. I announced one day that I WOULD BE leaving home now – they could help me with that, or I would simply disappear from their lives and make my own way in world (ha!) As it happened, I confided in my friend Laurie Miller about the abuse going on in my home, and asked if I could stay at her house for awhile…her parents took me with their family on vacation, and when we returned home to Trenton, her grandmother had scheduled me to take an entrance exam at Kingswood Cranbrook School for girls.

I started a few weeks later. I went to school twelve hours a day and took every art class I could, including any at the Cranbrook Academy of Art that the instructors would let me audit. It was HEAVEN to me, as close to Hogwarts as you can get in the real world. My parents agreed to send me if I would come home two weekends a month and TRY to get along…you see, I was the problem.

As it turns out, I have always BEEN the problem. But as Glinda informs Dorothy: “You had the power all along, my dear.” Finally – FINALLY – at the age of sixty, I’m done compromising. Pretending to “get along” was killing me. Too bad it seems to have come down to them or me! But so be it…

I’m going back to being an artist. I don’t know where I’ll live or how I’ll eat or pay the bills; apparently I don’t know how to play well with others, heck, maybe I’ll die…or maybe, the life I have left will become worth living. Ich habe genug.

For Anne-Marie.

A House is Not a Home…

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Shortly after the first of the year I began attending a class, a women artist’s support group really, based on Julia Cameron’s brilliant book, The Artist’s Way. When the twelve week program came to an end none of us wanted to stop, so we continue to study with the sequel, Walking In This World.

Any of us women – along with millions worldwide who have studied and worked through these lessons – will tell you, it is life-changing. In my case, it has been life saving.

We meet once a week. We discuss the chapter and our experiences as we work through the tasks, how we are effected by the insights. We offer ideas, support. And although we are careful not to problem solve for each other, problems do seem to resolve themselves mysteriously throughout the following week…it’s uncanny.

Of course, what we are really doing is showing up, being present, learning how to relate differently than the ways that let us down in the past. Somehow we know this is a great privilege, to be here together at this time, and that growing up is a lifelong process.

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Susan Steadman, oil on canvas by Lisa Perrine Brown

As we gathered for class last night I complimented Lisa – extraordinary woman and artist – on her choice to paint the living room ceiling of her Victorian home a luscious peacock blue. “Ceilings should always be a color”, I said…and then realized that most of mine are white. It is the first of my homes where I have not painted the ceilings. It is the first home I have never really made my own. My name is on the mortgage, but I’ve never “taken ownership”…it is a house to me. It has never really been my home.

Yesterday, cleaning out a basement shelf, I came upon a box I had never UNpacked since moving in 9 years ago. It was labeled “studio” and contained art supplies. What a metaphor! I had unwittingly packed up my own heart, taped it securely shut, and stored it neatly away on a faraway shelf…

Lucky for me, the heart waits through our slumber to awaken again like a child on Christmas morning. Every morning, Christmas, in our true home, our true heart…where the ceilings glow and the walls shine like diamonds.

Perhaps…

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So…continuing with the story of how I morphed into Mary Poppins…or, maybe, as my Mom used to tell me: “Learn to spell guru, and then you’ll never need one: G.U.R.U”…

She would take me shopping for Betsey Johnson dresses for my back-to-school wardrobe, then paint a paisley or flower on my face to match my dress before sending me off to school in the morning…the headmaster would send me home for lunch to wash it off, and she would take hold of my shoulders, rotate me, push me back out the door and get that headmaster on the phone!

And another thing she used to tell me:

For a woman with very limited resources, she knew how to get her point across.

She would have LOVED the other Mary Poppins, the Lady…

Mary Poppins Calling…

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Yesterday, I alluded to the nicknames Resourceress and Mary Poppins. They are both actually nicknames that two different friends have given to me over the years.

Now, as it happens, I have always been a huge Mary Poppins fan…my Pinterest board titled “the real Mary Poppins” is a reference to my personal belief that we wise and creative women are all good “witches”, or alchemists, spiritual midwives, healers…in fact, I believe that not for the intelligence of creative women throughout history…well…I doubt the race would have survived THIS long. After all, it seems pretty obvious that men are trying their very best to wipe us off the face of…another day…

Mary Poppins was magical…a good witch, even though Disney didn’t blatantly portray her as one. We recognize each other, don’t we…and I like myself for admiring her more than the other Disney heroines…!

Anyway…it is the metaphor – strong, strong, metaphor that she can PULL ANYTHING SHE NEEDS OUT OF HER BAG!!! that insinuates her as every woman…as any mother could certainly attest. But mother or not, few women in our culture have not had to make something out of nothing, pull off a seemingly impossible feat in the stress of the day, and dress up the mundane while entertaining the “children” of all ages. Take the lead, git ‘er done…and don’t break a sweat, or a heel, doing it!

My Mother – an angel like Lincoln’s (the man knew…) – set a great example of grace under pressure. Damn she had a hard life. Good, but I sure wouldn’t want to trade places. Her mother’s was harder…and I know that you see it in your own heritage.

They truly were “resourceresses”…a word that I think my friend, the artist Richard Schemm, made up. He likes to make up words, but also, he has extraordinary women to appreciate in his life. He will tell you: we resource. It’s what we do.

Once I drove from northern Michigan to northern California. I was staying with friends in San Fransisco, but never having been to their NEW home, they decided to meet me at the highway and lead me from there through the complicated streets…so, we stopped for dinner at one of the chain restaurants that congregate near the exits. We ate, and preparing to leave, Debi said, “I have to stop on the way to the house to buy one of those phone jacks that adapt a single jack to a double”…I reached into my purse and pulled one out. She smiled knowingly, and called me Mary Poppins. It just so happened to be the very last thing that I grabbed – along with the phone- as I was walking out on my deadbeat husband, heading off into the distant unknown…

For Danielle.