Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Husband and Wife

Well I am continuing to do my self portrait each morning at about 6:45 am, before setting off to work. I am finding that my senses being somewhat dulled with sleep are incapable of whipping off a quick 15 minute sketch and so I take a more relaxed approach and finish up the portrait on the next morning. Just the act of drawing in the morning is really a high point of my day, a time that is solely my own and spent in a meditative like activity that doesn't involve too much of the mind. I am also including a sketch of random characters made up for the fun of it. I haven't been doing my more imaginative type of work now that I have been doing life studies. I have even gotten Sam to pose for me once a few nights ago so that I could draw her beautiful pregnant self in my overly large sketchbook. I have been monitering Sam's belly with a string which shows a series of knots for each week of growth. I take a measurement each Monday.

After school I raced home to watch the rest of a Harry Potter movie with Isabella and then she called her Grandma Jude to wish her a happy birthday. Isabella and I are reading all of the Harry Potter books together, she has her own and I have gotten mine from the library. We read the same book and then talk about things that have happened or we make some predictions (we are now on the 6th book-The Half Blood Prince). I think Isabella wants me to read the same book so that she can tell me how far ahead of me she is, as she is often grinning at me when she asks what page I am on. I admit I am struggling to keep up. Isabella is a one of a kind kid and we are very lucky to have her.

Sam and I are fortunate that we agree with our lifestyle arrangement of not having a media controlled environment. We have had no television for 4 years now and I was happy to do away with a cell phone 2 years ago. We are believers in homemade gifts and toys and natural things. I think it is just fine that people watch TV,, we just find that we don't have enough time to do all the things we want to do as it is and TV would be another distraction, especially from our parenting. I probably overdosed on TV when I was a kid because I remember watching throughout my teenage existence. I think I am heading towards a diatribe so I will end here.

Sam's sister Tash is visiting for several weeks and we are picking her up at the airport tomorrow so we are excited to see her. We will take her all over to see the wonders of California around the Bay Area.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Self portrait2

We have all been sick here with a cold that seems to get passed back and forth between Sam, Isabella and I. I have continued with the self portraits early in the morning and have had an itch to draw Sam as well, maybe in the evenings. I stayed home from work yesterday with a sinus plugged head but Sam and I went out to get some baby stuff to get ready for his coming. We picked out a car seat, baby tee shirts, receiving blankets and diapers (which I was for the first time clued into how expensive they are). If only I could justify taking off a few more days for my own physical and mental health. I have been wanting to get back to working on a small painting that I have started but must wait for the weekend to do. Tonight also, Mabel the bunny for the first time ever, hopped in my lap and remained there for about 15 minutes while I petted her. We are hoping to coax her into being a lap bunny though she is not at all comfortable with being picked up. She is a real gift and I am always so intrigued by her. I had no idea that rabbits are lovers of closeness and coddling. We are just going to be a house of cuteness when the baby comes along. Sam is getting kicks all day and the movement so strong that I could believe he is trying to club his way out. I remember only not too long ago when no movement could really be detected from within but now there is tons of movement, especially when Sam is eating. Anyway I am just rambling on. I will leave another self portrait drawing- one in which I am scowling.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sam in crayon

Look carefully for the Rain

Saturday we went to the Lawrence Hall of Science after having a wonderful breaksfast at the Rockridge Cafe in Berkeley where I got a spinach, bacon and goat cheese omelette (I learned that I am not fond of melted goat cheese). Isabella had a blast, especially in the Grossology section where animal and insect automatons were set up to teach children science in a game show type arena. Before leaving the house in the morning I found an interesting weather information center that contains time delay videos shot from Lawrence Hall over looking the Bay Area, extending from San Mateo to Marin. We noticed in some of the videos that people could be seen flashing about here and there near some grassy hill in the forefront of the exquisite everchanging sky and landscape. So Isabella and I agreed that we wanted to find a way to get on the video itself which shows the skyline changes in a whole 24 hour period. We had some difficulty finding it when we got there and were preoccupied with the exhibits inside. At the end of our many hour visit in Lawrence Hall we made our way to the basement of the center to an animal visiting room. Isabella in five minutes time got to hold two snakes, one around her neck (a python) and a dove on her finger. What a lucky girl. Isabella has also touched a full grown alligator, lizards, a boa constrictor, chinchilla, a large cockatoo, sea cucumber, starfish, sea anemones, frogs, deer, goats, cows, sheep and I know that I am forgetting some but she has really had a lot of contact with animals. We finally found that the camera to the site was stationed from one of the back windows and that a path led behind the science center from the nearest parking lot. Later today I looked up yesterdays video but I am not convinced the video is yesterdays and the date at the end of the video is marked for Friday's date so I will check tomorrow again to see if I can find Isabella and I. I will also add a crayon drawing I did of Sam while we were at the Rockridge Cafe. The hostess gave paper and crayons to Isabella and she shared them with me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Morning Portrait

So I finally got a chance to post one of my morning drawings that I do at 6:30 before heading off for work. Every drawing so far is done for only 15 minutes but this one I added to from the previous day when I was so tired I spent most of my time mapping out the proportions of my face. I have been devout in this little ritual for more than an entire week and it has really done wonders to begin my day in my very own creative way before setting out to my job teaching. I have thought that it would get old having to draw ones face over and over again but then again each day I see the drawings a bit different and I am compelled to try different ways of making lines on the paper. I heard that Buddhist will focus on a mantra or practice something again and again to still the mind and bring peace. I once met a man who told me that for several days he spent hours and hours and hours drawing a field of tall grass before him. I have to stop believing that ideas need always be new. I will try and see how far this will take me and now and again I will add a new portrait to my blog.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunday Painter

A beautiful Sunday today. I finally got a rain free day to paint outside. The sky was semi dark and I was nervous about rain but I decided that I was going to set things up anyway, determined to start painting. It takes a considerable amount of time to move all my things outside and set up. I have a portable easel which stands nicely and I got to try out using a tin palette which is easy to clean but odd mixing colors with the palette knife. I copied a photo of Isabella from the computer for the subject of my painting and used an old canvas made of stretchers that I handmade myself out of spare wood. I felt no awkwardness about getting right into the work, since it has been so long since I have worked again in oils (almost a whole year). I used a very thin wash to map out the proportions of the face using light hues and then gradually building into darker and more saturated tones. I was racing against time as the light was rapidly moving across the patio leaving shadow in its wake. I spent the first session of this painting trying to define the locations of the facial features and shadows. The photo I was working from is quite colorless so there needs to be some invention of color or color intensity. At the end of 2 hours I ran out of daylight and so I took an old painting and brushed in a color for its background. Even when these new paintings are complete, it is necessary to wait months for the paint to dry in order to seal them. I wanted to take a picture of the painting to put in this blog but I changed my mind quickly, not wanting to give this work so much of my own attention. I even turn the painting towards the wall when it is drying so as to not think about it. I would rather approach the work with fresh eyes the next time I paint on it and also don't think it well to treat it as something precious which tends to happen when one isn't painting every day.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Rock show

Today Isabella, Sam and I went to the Hayward Rock and Gem show and were there for several hours. Immediately upon entering the convention center we bought Isabella 4 spins at a spinning wheel game where you get a handful of polished stones for any number the wheel turns up on. Isabella made out like a bandit and even when we were done a very kind gentleman let her take a whole handful out of large bag of polished rock. Many of the items she got from this were band agate pieces as well as blue and gold tigers iron, petrified wood and quartz. The place was huge and quite overwhelming. There were so many wonderful things to see but so much to look at that it was hard to focus on any particular thing to buy. So much of the crystals and rocks were extremely high priced but I managed to find a few good deals. I ended up buying a twinning crystal of Staurolite which looks like the above picture, and a grossular garnet cluster inbeded in rock, a very beautiful little piece of moonstone looking very transparent, a nifty little ammonite and fugilite which is also referred as fossil lightening (little structures made by lightening hitting sand). Isabella got loads of neat stuff including fossilized sand dollar or ancient sea urchin, an ammonite, and a bottle of opal pieces. After leaving we took a serene walk into a Japanese Garden full of winding pathways with a variety of bonsai looking trees, wooden bridges and a pond full of giant carp, catfish, turtles and duck. All of this was just a little walk from the convention center. I would like to include some picture below of what Halite and Hanksite look like- minerals I mentioned in my last entry.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Self Portrait

So I have been making my school lunches at night and in the morning I have now a good 15 minutes to do a self portrait. I have noticed that they are getting more detailed as I do this. Yesterday's portrait resembles most the state I was in, which was exhausted and weary-eyed. This is evident in the drawing which was disproportioned and containing fuzzy lines. Not much else has happened in the way of art. Sam's womb is growing bigger daily and the knots are moving further along the string which we use to measure her belly each week. I can't believe how fast things move and yet last year feels so very far away when I try to remember back to something. Socrates is standing on the desk before me, trying to gain my adoration. He has become so connected to me, that on the weekend he waits on the end of the bed for me to awake and when I do he talks to me and sits upon my chest for petting. The other cats are just begin to move out of their adolescence and are still aloof. Damn feline teenagers,, still clawing the couch and fighting one another.

I am excited with Isabella for the Rock and gem show that is taking place tomorrow in Hayward. We love buying unique rock specimens. Isabella has been saving her allowance for weeks, plus I am throwing in 10 bucks for her. The weather has been rainy for the last week but it will be nice and sunny this weekend. I went to a field trip out to Trona which is located out near Mojave Desert where Hanksite, Halite and Borax crystals are found. For one day they dig up mud holes and deposit the rich black clay mud in an area for people to find these gems. I loved digging through the mud and found some fantastic things which had to be washed immediately with brine to clean them. The crystals were evaporate minerals that can easily be dissolved in water though they are sturdy and substantial to behold. The Hanksite can only be found in one other place on earth. They have a dark greenish glow to them and vary in sizes,, some single crystals can be as large as a brick. Anyway, there they had a show where rock could be sold and I found the prices to be very affordable and I came home with Blue Forest Petrified Wood from Wyoming, fire opal, petrified horse teeth, agate, and opal from Australia. I am hoping to find odd things that I haven't come across yet tomorrow. Well we are off to run errands and Sam has just commented on how big her baby belly is getting.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Trying to break from pattern

So, it is report card season and I am hampered down in the mire of student data and pages of student work attempting to sort out what standards do and do not yet have a command over. I have recently felt myself in a slump of sort due to an overabundance of school work without pause for art or much else. The rain has been coming down in buckets these last few weekends and not a part in the clouds for some painting outdoors. I have shared this sentiment with my wife Sam who feels very similiarly but we have an aim to pry in some creativity into our lives if it kills us. I have had this idea to begin each morning with a 15 minute self portrait before going off to work. In order to do this I will have to reorder my night schedule to prepare lunch beforehand as well as take a shorter shower in the morning which usually consists of me lying in the tub in a sleepy stupor for 20 minutes. I have still been doing push ups for one minute each day and believe me, just a little bit each day really does make a difference. It is so easy to commit ourselves to the joyless obligations of life and not make room for those things that really help to make us feel more alive. I felt this past week as though I was walking in my sleep without any awareness of the rich sensory experiences of the present. We are ever caught in the pattern of starts and stops, drive and distraction, focus and dreaminess until there is the discipline to break through habit. I have a hope that Sam and I can help to motivate one another rather than moving silently and seperately in our own struggles.