What is a true eclectic to do when her passions lead her in different directions?
This is a blog for the unfocused, the round pegs in the square holes, the short-attention span types, and all those who just can't bring themselves to join the ranks and adhere to a single category of activities or interests...whether sketches, drawings and comics, fixing an old farmhouse in Oregon, or whatever else strikes my fancy.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Wedding (11-30-11)

Our daughter Valérie got married in October. I decided to draw the lovely memory I have of that day, the guest tables with my daughter Julia in the right foreground, and a close-up of the young couple lost in their own enjoyment of the moment.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Victorian House (11-30-11)

I like our former neighbors, Judy and Louis H., and thinking about them, their 109-year-old Queen Anne style house in Southeast Portland, originally built by Oregon painter Eliza Barchus comes to mind.

These drawing are closer to sketches because I wanted to be as accurate as possible. While we were chatting one day, I took a few photographs of Judy on the front porch and of Louis standing inside the ornate front door. I then made light landmark points on the paper with a pencil, and carefully worked with my pen inlude lines where I wanted them. When the drawing was finished, I erased all the pencil marks.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Circus (11-30-11)

I like clowns at the circus, but thinking of the most stereotypical thing about clowns, the ironic image of the Sad Clown, I decided to work on two scenes that would incorporate such a clown.
So here is a shabby circus tent, and a close-up of my poor clown having a Bad Day, where, -rather than being the funny one-, he is the one in dire need of entertainment. Next to him, there is a cage with a small monkey (I just couldn't resist the bad pun...).

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Conversation (11-30-11)

A drawing lazily done during a meeting with some friends one evening. Mary M., our hostess showed us her studio space in her fairy-tale house, then served us a delicate cake decorated with a pink rose made of frosting. We then spent the next few hours enjoying each others' company talking about what mattered to us on a personal level. For the second drawing, I tried to draw Mary G.
Looking at these images reminds me of this evening with friends.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Instructor (11-30-11)

Sandra S.'s smile suggests that she has a sense of humor and will not put up with nonsense... To draw her, I tried to be sparse with details, and do a linear portrait.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Castle in Belgium (11-30-11)

One day in February 2005, my brother Sébastien took me for a drive along the valley of the Meuse  in Belgium. High up, near the top of the forested cliffs bordering one side of the majestic river, one could see the ruins of a castle. In answer to my question, Seb said this castle was called Poilvache (a funny name in French), and offered to drive up to it.
After crossing the Meuse and driving uphill on windy roads, we arrived to a wide clearing covered with snow. A path off the side led to the old castle. Unprepared for a hike, I had put on a pair of Converse high tops that morning; they promptly got soaked as we got out of the car and started walking through the thick snow. After a short hike, we got to a high wall and a locked gate: access to the fortress was closed for another couple of months.
With Seb's help, I climbed over the wall, and we set off to explore the grounds. We were alone, with only the sounds of our feet disturbing the leaden silence. It was dusk. The entire valley was open below us, with the sinewy silver path of the large river down below. The sun was a dull pink through the filter of the fog coming in with the night. It was blood-chillingly cold. The ruins of the roofless dungeon stood three floor high, huge open walls punctured with window openings.
In my mind, I could see how it must have been, some 500 years before, when men huddled around fire camps or tended to their horses. The unimaginable torture they must have endured, wet clothes, frostbitten limbs, dark nights, the forest where dangers lurked.
And we, visitors from another time, in the silence all around, could hear horses neighing and the sounds of a garrison settling down for a night long gone, but the biting cold was ever-present, eternal.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: My Little Studio (11-30-11)

My studio had humble beginnings as a workshop or storage space for one or another previous owner. When I first saw it on the day of the real estate open house, the late morning light reflected in the colorful glass pebbles mixed in the gravel gave the building a magical look.
I eagerly climbed up the steps, expecting to find a wonderful art workspace. My fantasy came to a crashing stop when I opened the door: boxes and old furniture piled up everywhere, water dripping from the ceiling.
One of the first projects we undertook after we moved in was to clean this outbuilding. It was a dark, unwelcoming place, dirty, home to hideous spiders and carpenter ants. It took quite a while, but it eventually got cleaned up, painted inside, redecorated, with new floors installed and sealed.
The studio is now a great work space to share with students and friends, with enough space to store art supplies, visual journaling books, large tables and chairs, and many objects, even vintage items for resale... It is a magical space!

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Class (11-30-11)

I find it easier to listen when my hands are busy drawing.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Molière (11-30-11)

Brilliant actor Tim Mooney's portrayal of characters from Molière's plays.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: The Congregation (11-30-11)

A drawing that underlines how one can feel alone in a crowd.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Fashion Statement on Hwy. 99 (11-30-11)

The people who walk along on Hwy. 99/McLoughlin Blvd. in Oak Grove are rarely what one would call sophisticated; it's more like poor and working class who cross the road to take the bus. So, as I made a turn onto McLoughlin with my car, I was a surprised to see a middle-aged woman, dressed in flowing linen New Age style clothes with tribal patterns, a woman like one would see in Southeast Portland, not out in the gritty suburbs.

2011 Pen and Ink Project: Old Witch at New Seasons (11-30-11)

I was sitting in the dining room at New Seasons when my attention was caught by an older woman who was talking to an adolescent girl. The scene was banal: two people sitting at a table, and yet, there was something very unpleasant about this woman, the contrast between her falsely benevolent attitude, the small bear in her pocket, and...

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Little House in the Forest (11-30-11)

What is the little house hidden in the forest? Who will get to it first, the little girl, or the big bad wolf?

2011 Pen and Ink Project: A Bench for Daydreaming (11-30-11)

When it comes to drawing, there's only one way that comes naturally to me: Pen and Ink. I got to think about what I like to draw freehand from imagination, how I would represent something from memory, and how it would look different from observation...
I wondered if beyond a broad overview drawing, one could get a glimpse at something else, something deeper, more detailed... This was the start of a series of unrelated drawings, all tied by a common approach, a view from afar, then at close proximity.

So, one day in 2011, armed with a few pens, a 2H pencil, and a small Bristol pad, I just started drawing. This scene slowly took shape, first a bench, with a girl sitting, and then trees all around. Who is this girl, and what is she thinking?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Self-Portrait (11-27-11)

...Although a common thread runs throughout, self-portraits looks different because the end result is affected by one's self-perception at the moment.
Traveler with a Heavy Heart

Monday, November 21, 2011

Alliance Française Get-together (11-21-11)

I went to the Brasserie Montmartre for a get-together organized by the French Alliance. French folk singer Tété was present (in town for a concert). I took the opportunity to do a quick sketch of him and asked him to sign my sketchbook.
French chanteur Tété

Dark-haired beauty
I did this sketch of a striking young woman who sat across from met; her hair was black, and with the eyes the darkest shade of dark, she looked like an Iranian princess who had stepped out of the One Thousand and One Nights into Modern Times...

My friend Sian A. likes to participate in French Alliance activities. I enjoyed the relaxed, informal ambiance of this particular meeting.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Art Spark November Event (11-17-11)

The November Art Spark event was at Vie de Bohême, a wine bar in Southeast. I was a bit annoyed that they would charge $ 3 for a Coke with Grenadine, and their Happy Hour dishes were of the crusty piece of bread with puréed olive variety, but for 4 Bucks! 
Schmoozing for the Arts
So I hung out some and watched the crowds. It was as usual, more arts administrators than artists -everybody loves the Arts, everybody supports the Arts-. There was a tedious-looking recycling-themed Bingo game, undoubtedly to get people to talk with each other, that I didn't event want to bother with, since the room was totally dark and the cards were illegible. After a presentation by RACC staff ("I don't know what I'm doing, but I sure love it!"), some other organization with a purported recycling-cum-arts-focus called Create Plenty presented their program, with a very pregnant young woman gushing over and over about an ongoing fundraiser of some sort. Then, there was a drawing, and I won a weird bag made out of an old Joe Camel t-shirt turned inside out, with some homemade cleaning products in used glass jars (one of them with a Tostitos label still on).

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Score! Another Fun Time at the Auction! (11-16-11)

What can I say? I can't resist a great item, especially when I can visualize how perfect it will be for a future show...

I went to the auction yesterday, and in the heat of the excitement, I bought some pretty sizable items. After getting lucky with a darling little wicker loveseat and table, I started getting worried that I might have to just abandon them, for lack of space in my little trusted PT Cruiser... But there was no way I'd give up without trying to get as much as I could cram inside first!
I can't believe I got it all inside!
The "Personal Transport," a versatile little car...

And I gotta say, this car is something else when it comes to carry things! Once again, it did not disappoint. It took me a while, but I was able to fit the following inside:
- white wicker loveseat with cushion
- white wicker table
- pale yellow wooden chair
- wooden child-sized chair with plastic woven seat
- gorgeous designer-brand red vintage-print comforter
- box of vintage Christmas decorations
- box of miscellaneous books abandoned by someone
- damaged blue quilt
- red-colored round accent table
- wicker sewing basket
- box of dishes and sewing supplies
- vintage cream-colored suitcase abandoned by someone
- three-tiered white platter thingie
- grey Pyrex mug
- small wooden shelf
...Not counting my large-sized bag, a picnic blanket, two bath towels, one bottle of water (for radiator leaks), many shopping bags, and a folding stool (in case the urge to sketch were to strike me in a place where I might want to sit)...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Getting Ready for the Next Show (11-15-11)

There is so much to do to get ready for the next show! Once again, I am a vendor at the Plucky Maidens Junk Fest, this coming Saturday, at the McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove.

A few days ago, I made a trip to the generally excellent Stars Antique Malls in Sellwood. The rust and ragged look had spread like mold from booth to booth since my last visit. Most everywhere, it was the same fake shabby white stuff, with the same "Paris" plaques and other such decor accents. An innovative look can easily get cliché when everyone does it... I made the decision that my space would be replete with colors, especially reds, a cheerful touch since the weather starts getting really dreadful at this time of the year.

 At Gary's suggestion again, I set up in the studio, to get an idea of what items I could fit in my little 6' x6' space.
A great turkey platter for Thanksgiving
I love the red coffee pots!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Concert for Veterans (11-12-11)

A great concert by the Oregon Symphonic Band last night! As always, they were fantastic, and we are so glad our son Christopher found this excellent group to play with (he plays the contra-alto clarinet and the soprano clarinet).

Veterans' Day was just a couple of days ago, so there were a few older veterans in the audience at Milwaukie High School, who seemed to appreciate being asked to stand up at the end of the concert.

I am not necessarily into military-themed music, but I particularly enjoyed the Commando March by Samuel Barber, and the very engaging and danceable parts of the Medley from Miss Saigon by Claude-Michel Schoenberg (arr. Warren Barker).

From our standpoint, the most enjoyable moment was to see the high school band students sitting a couple of rows ahead of us, who, when the closing number (Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa) was announced, all became very attentive (clearly a piece they were familiar with); they clearly were very impressed by the piccolo part (brilliantly played by Jesus Cruz)!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Marriage of Figaro (11-10-11)

My friend Sian A. invited me to go to the Keller Auditorium to see The Marriage of Figaro with her. Although I like Mozart, I am not a fan of opera, but the costumes and set were fabulous! And it was nice to see this production after reading a review of it in the paper.
"He deserves not forgiveness, who does not forgive"

Friday, November 4, 2011

Washington Politician (11-04-11)

I'm constantly amazed by the crookedness of politicians. After seeing the gleeful look of this guy in the story in the paper, I decided to do a caricature of him that would expand on the expression on his face...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finally! A resolution (11-02-11)

Hard to believe, but we had a meeting of the minds.

Papers were signed, this just one day before the official court date. My two ladies (previous owner and her agent) were quite chatty, -even friendly-, as we were signing rounds of documents, mine specifying that I would not hound them any further, and theirs that they would pay for french drains to be installed between the house and the studio, and for some work to be completed under the house.

After we were done, George (our buyer's agent) and I braved the frigid weather to celebrate with a cup of hot tea at Village Coffee. It had been an exhausting process, but we were both glad it was over.

The odds of winning in small claims court were rather good, we thought, but Gary and I felt better with a compromise where all parties could feel that they had come out with something... Big relief to be done with this and to be able to move on with other things.