Saturday, April 25, 2009

Boasting Rights

Not having any children of my own, I have to rely on my brothers' children to provide me with boasting material.
Here is one of my nieces singing on YouTube.

I'm not too chuffed, no not a bit...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Misjudging The Book By Its Cover

I don't watch "American Idol" never have, never will. But I had read about a woman named Susan Boyle who appeared on the British version of "AI" and had utterly stunned the judges and the audience with her singing. I googled her this evening and watched the YouTube video of her performance. She is a very plain, frumpy middle-aged woman from a village in Scotland; when she walked out onto the stage, you can see and hear the snickers from the audience and the judges, too, are skeptical to say the least. But she is plucky and so utterly believes in her talent that I feared for her because obviously she was going to make a fool of herself- she was going to be the next "joke" contestant, the delusional person the audience supports out of sheer snarkiness. I felt sorry for her and dreaded her utter humiliation.
Then she opened her mouth and sang and it was an epiphany. Her voice was gorgeous, her rendition of the song was heartfelt and stirring. She shamed us all as she embraced us with the generosity of her talent and her complete confidence in her ability. I was in tears at the end of her performance. Even Simon Cowell was stunned- the look on his face was one of utter amazement and pure delight. (I understand he has her under contract for his recording company as a result of her performance.)
I wish her every great thing- what a lesson in persistance, vision, belief in oneself, and courage. Her victory over our cynicism, our culture's erroneous belief that great talent must be accompanied by physical attractiveness, our focus on the cover instead of the writing are complete. But she does not need my wishes, she took the chances and is now going to get the recognition her talent deserves.
So from this plain, frumpy middle-aged woman whose talent is often dismissed because it does not come in the culturally-approved package, I say- you go, Susan!

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Ache for the Past

I started my summer "B" job this past weekend, working weekends at the Catskill Native Nursery from now until the end of the season. I knew I was going to be stiff and sore, feeling every day of my age and every moment of a long winter spent not doing much physical work. I was not prepared, however, for the heart-rending beauty of the birds and their songs. At my former home, I had planted and planted and planted just for the comfort and support of the birds and was rewarded with an abundance of song and movement. Now, however, I am living in town and while I hear a few English Sparrows singing in the morning, it is otherwise a desert. When I got to the nursery I was overwhelmed by the song and by the many bluebirds, tree swallows and other species flitting around. Oh how I have missed them.
Nostalgia literally means "the ache for the past." And it was literally an ache in the middle of my chest. The only cure for it that I can see is to be grateful for this small blessing- to be able to hear and see the birds at the Nursery, allow the sights and sounds to soak into me to sustain me for the intervening 4 days, keep putting one foot in front of the other and take the next right step.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Start

Ever since I moved into my current place, I have wanted to replace the color in the large back room- a room I am using as a dining/living room.As noted in an earlier post- "More Sheep & Goats"-the former tenants had painted it a lurid crimson and I had begun to paint over it in preparation for a mural. Here it is in its former state (actually this image looks better than the true wall color):

I took the plunge this weekend I got out my brush, my jars of homogenized acrylic paints and began. I have an idea in mind and I have roughly sketched it out on the walls but I am by-and-large winging it. This is just the first layer of colors, I will add to and embellish the shapes with stencilled, sponged, painted and printed motifs: leaves, grasses, bark, shadows etcetcetc. Also, many of the colors I will use for embellishing the surface will be more complex and interesting than these rather straight forward colors. Also, true to form, I am working somewhat piecemeal (I still haven't finished painting out the crimson on one of the walls but I just couldn't wait to have some fun.)
I did have to re-paint one area already. When I stepped back and looked at the wall, it was starting to look too much like a pediatrics ward- too cute and sweet. too easter basket-ish. There is still one patch of the offending viridian left, I ran out of the bronzy green that mercifully replaced the bulk of it. Phew, what a relief. Here it is so far:

I am also just glad to be exercising the art muscle. Friday evening a bunch of artist friends came over for an informal evening in my studio and that was very very pleasant. Saturday afternoon I attended the opening of the "River" show at the WAAM and that was good also. A few too many questions about my life right now, but there you are. By the end of that reception, however, I was all peopled out and opted for a quiet rest of my weekend. I painted, and graded papers for the class I teach up in Albany. Monday will be here all too soon. Ah well... sic transit gloria mundi.