Bay City Snow Day

When I paint using photographs, it’s obviously important that the painting be a lot better than the photograph, and it’s always been pretty easy to do that. It was harder this time, because this new camera is so good and I set the composition up on PhotoShop, combining three or four photographs, picking out interesting shapes, making sure I had the wonderful age range represented that really is there.

I like the result…it’s pretty much what I’ve been carrying around in my head: the fabulous, almost silhouetted shapes at the top of a white hill against a white sky. It can only be Bay City because you can see the lights tower that presides over the softball field on the right. I also made sure to put in the pigeons that frequently perch in rows along the bridge lights.

I’ve waited years, but finally we got a huge fluffy white snow on a Friday night, so Saturday at ten a.m. our riverside park was joyful with color against a still-pristine white.

Bay City Snow Day is acrylic on acid-free illustration board, and measures 36 by 15 inches. Click on the image to enlarge it.

One-Year Survivor!

I’ve talked to other cancer survivors, and we all seem to feel as if we got handed a Get Out Of Jail Free card with a clean lab report, which frees us until about a month before our next scheduled test. For me, this means that I’m free until about the middle of May, when a subteranean anxiety will start tunnelling upward, reaching full force between the test time and results.

Many mammogram facilities these days recognize this anxious time and will give the results on the spot, but mine has not progressed to that point and I have to wait about three days. That’s better than it used to be.

There is more to worry about for me than a breast cancer recurrence. The treatments–Arimidex (which I no longer take due to excruciating side effects) and perhaps radiation–have resulted in something called osteopenia, a precursor to osteoporosis. Like most other survivors, I have to deal with side effects for big meds, which I don’t seem to tolerate very well. In fact, I tolerate them so badly that I have opted to park my hopes on a positive attitude, daily exercise program (which one doc says won’t affect recurrance at all), diet (same doc says that fat makes estrogen which feeds my kind of cancer cells, so maybe lose weight?), and just being happy with each day of my life that I feel reasonably good.

Meanwhile, my projects are doing well: The Mary Blocksma Gallery is going far better than I expected, although I confess that my expectations were not high. Also, I’m waiting for the Bay City Times to come up with a contract that reflects our agreement that I do a weekly nature column. That is an exciting possibility. And I am painting again.

And I’m taking photos. This one is the view from my bathroom window on an early sunny Saturday morning sparkling with new snow.

Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Bay City Art Walk: May 5, 5-8 p.m.

When I moved to Bay City, Michigan, from Beaver Island, my artist friends all over Michigan sang, practically in chorus, “Bay CITY????” A friend who grew up around here and still lives here has frequently suggested “Bingo, Beer and Bowling” as the city slogan. That works, along with Bars, Boats, and Vehicles–American, please–this is car country. And I’m happy here. It’s friendly, tolerant, inexpensive, and just fun. We have a river AND a Great Lake (Lake Huron), and we are pleasantly lagging in “progress.”

But some things are changing to my liking. Last Monday night, several of us women started a book club, our choice for a first read being “The Kite Runner.”

And now Bay City has its own Bijou Orchestra, which, led by director and violinist Leo Najir, puts on concerts and performances of many descriptions–just last night I saw “I love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change,” with four excellent imported professional actors. It was performed at the newly acquired cultural center: The Scottish Rite Masonic Temple Auditorium.

Tonight I’m going to see Central Michigan University’s first ever opera, a performance of ‘The Marriage of Figaro,” a good friend and neighbor having made over thirty costumes for it when she wasn’t teaching eighth grade special education classes full time. She roped all her friends into the project–I sorted the profusion of jewels that she sewed on by hand.

And now, on the first Thursday of every month, starting on May 5, from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., an Art Walk welcomes Bay City and neighbors to explore our downtown galleries: Start at Fourth Street and walk down Washington to visit
A & J Gallery, Nielsen Gallery, Garden of Art, and Jeff Ward Gallery. Find A City Studio just off Washington on Fifth Street, and on Fifth and Water find Studio 23. Click here for more information.

The painting is my latest, just finished: Acrylic on paper measuring about 15 x 24 inches. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Lookin’ Good on Donegal Bay

I did the first layer in acrylic, but it was harsh and I didn’t like it. The light was good–lots of contrast–but it looked like paint-by-numbers, and although the composition was pretty good, the sky and bottom of the painting felt empty. I added clouds and moving water. Still boring. So I did a layer over the whole thing with pastels, and then, after some useful criticism from the subject, who is himself an artist, I did a final layer in oil pastel (kind of fancy name for expensive crayons). The result has depth and movement that I really like, and while I used a lot of bright color, the skin tones look perfect from across the room.

Global Warming on Saginaw Bay

An artist friend whose opinion I respect suggests that the values are too similar. Another thinks the mermaid should have shells in her hair and more highlights. I originally painted the fish much brighter and think I’ll go back and repaint them, as bright fish were part of the joke.

This winter I seem unable to focus on a large, money-maker project, so I’m experimenting, painting from my head, from photographs, from life, using watercolors of several types, acrylics, and pastels. Nothing really hangs together. I’m at the looks-futile-dump-it stage, but experience has taught me hang tough and finish a long-term project. For it is, actually, a project after all.

I’ll just turn my Global Warming to the wall for a while.

Later…okay, I redid it…as seen in this image. In addition to the above ideas, my son suggested that I brighten the fisherperson. At first I resisted but he was right. I ended up taking everyone’s suggestions and now I like this painting. This often happens to me: I ask for help but then I reject what I get. I know, however, that this is a mistake and I know better than to ask for suggestions and not even try them.
Click on any image to enlarge it.