Sunday, February 24, 2013

Color My World

As eager as I am to get outside and sketch, the combination of a busy workload and challenging weather conditions have made it an impossible feat this past week. So I've decided to share another passion of mine, collecting vintage children's watercolor tins. Some of you will remember these from your childhood; brightly colored images of children or animals existing in a fantasy or realistic world, occasionally practicing the art of painting. The paints included in these tins were never of high quality, and it would take numerous swipes with the cheap little brushes to gather enough pigment to get the darkness you so desired. But for those of you who have grown up only having held a plastic paintbox in your hands, you really missed out. Choosing a new set meant hours of fun and possibilities ahead, and for me, it made me feel like the "real" artist I would one day become.

These beautiful watercolor tins are hard to find now and when I do spot one the price can be quite high. I collect all kinds of images though for some reason, I've never been attracted to the Disney tins. I don't know why since I love the old Disney movies like Lady and the Tramp, Snow White, Cinderella, etc. One of my favorites in my collection is of course the huge Alice in Wonderland set.

Many of my sets are in perfect condition with never used paints, and from an investment standpoint that is ideal. But I don't collect these with the intent of resale. In fact I feel sorry for these pristine paintboxes that have never been held by wee hands. Give me the messy ones with worn down paint wells and pigment spotted lids. When I hold it my hands, I wonder what young artist dipped a water laden brush into the paint to capture an image of their puppy, kitty, doll or the view outside their window, or maybe even a spaceship circling the moon or a fairy perched upon a flower.
Hopefully one day I'll have a slew of grandchildren who will come to The Crooked Little House and pick out a favorite watercolor tin to use. But until then, maybe I should just invite my girlfriends to come by to select a paintbox and enjoy an evening of creativity.
"Everything is art. A cook, a shoemaker, a hairdresser are all artists according to how talented they are. This whole mess of labels and titles has nothing to do with me. I am absolutely indifferent to the noise and commotion. It isn't  the medium that's important but the person that expresses himself through it. I just continue to look for those special moments, the way a fisherman does when he tells you, They're biting today!"     Jacques Henri Lartigue

Sunday, February 17, 2013 keeping me waiting.

As I look out the window this morning at the dusting of crusty diamonds of snow, it's hard to focus on the subject of this week's post. This time of year something invades my body, taking over all logical thought and feelings. It's like I'm balanced on the edge of a precipice or sitting on a scary carnival ride waiting for it to begin. Electricity flows through my veins and everything seems exciting and possible with the best of life just over that rise in the road up ahead. The cause of all the upheaval - the promise of Spring of course.

The season of rebirth arrives earlier here on my island than in most places, floating in on the backs of grackles and blackbirds who spend the mornings squabbling at the feeders like sibling,s only instead of competing for an adult's attention, they compete for the best spot to gobble up seed and peanut butter. Spring perches in the nearby mimosa tree with the waxwings arriving by the dozens that stay only briefly before heading off to faraway lands. It erupts in my neighbor's yard through the cold soil as daffodils full of sunshine yellow.

I've cleaned and rehung the bird houses again in preparation for nest building which begins here in March. And my rosemary bush is drenched in blooms in an effort to lure the earliest of bees on a warm morning. My beloved cherry tree has lost another limb this winter but like my little cat Erb with his paralyzed leg, it doesn't take notice and still sees itself as whole and beautiful, sprouting luscious sap green leaves on its branches.

Spring brings hope and promises and new energy. I am absorbing all of it from everything that it budding, growing and blossoming. For I too am ready to bloom again.

"I shall be a dawn made of all the air I ever breathed."    Saint Geraud

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Love is all we need.

Love is always perched nearby with a quiver of arrows ready to take aim, not just in February, but year round, day into night, minute into hour. It bubbles up and seeps under our skin in the guise of hope, compassion and friendship. The surprising thing about love is the variation of forms it takes, not always two-legged, but sometimes sprouting wings and scales or a with a whisper of air and a wash of color.

Things I love:

The grip of an Opossum's tail.
Carolina moons that light up my bedroom.
The way a snail can retract their eye stalk, one at a time.
The strength of a spiderweb.
The squeak and bravery of a Nuthatch.
The bravado of Spring clouds.
Star gazing at 3 am.
The hush of snow.
The electric call of the Chickadee.
A Thrasher's song, melodies to rival any Mockingbird.
Yellow bellied Sliders waiting for a handout.
The shine of a Glass Lizard's scales.
The flamingo-pink throat of an amorous Anole.
An orgy of  Leaf-Footed Bugs on the trumpet vine.
Flat frogs sticking to the door.
A wasp sipping water at the bird bath.
Yellow Rumped Warblers playing tag around the pergola.
Garden Snakes sunbathing in the driveway.
Flickers jackhammering the mimosa tree.
Fog on the beach, making you invisible, inch by inch.
Stroking a cold Bumble Bee in the early morning.
Carolina Mantis hatchlings, all eyes.
Pillars of airborne bugs in a shaft of afternoon sunlight.
The call of a Great Horned Owl in the dark.
A Mockingbird singing in the middle of the night.
Secret waterways.
The pattern of a Box Turtle.
A variety of birds at the feeders, all happily sharing the bounty.

"At the touch of love, everyone becomes a poet."   -   Plato

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Six Weeks (more or less)

This year's mailing.
Groundhog Day is perhaps my favorite holiday. Nothing is expected of me. I don't have to overspend on gifts no one needs, cook huge meals I shouldn't be eating anyways or spend time with people I'm not particularly fond of. I don't feel badly if I'm not currently in love, don't believe in the Easter Bunny or lack Irish blood running through my veins. All that's required of me is to celebrate a little magic in the form of a furry rodent and my longing for spring. I honor the occasion with artwork creating for family and friends, and this week I'd like to share some images from past mailings with you.

Pennsylvania Dutch settlers are said to have brought the tradition of Groundhog Day to the US in the 18th century. Originally, the groundhog was a dachs, an animal related to the European badger. The first "groundhog" story is traced back to an ancient Greek belief that an animal's shadow is its soul, which has been darkened by the past year's sins. So hibernation was a time of spiritual renewal. If the animal awoke and saw he still had a shadow appearing, it meant he had best hibernate a bit longer in order for his shadow to be expunged.

Of course everyone knows the most famous weather predictor is Punxsutawney Phil, and this morning he did not see his shadow. This means he is pure of heart and spirit and spring is not far off. (In actuality though, we will always have six more weeks of winter according to the calendar.) But lately I've been noticing the spring blush on the tips of the bushes and the lengthening of the afternoons. And the birds at the feeders are bickering. They too are restless for spring to arrive. 

For those of you who received my mailing and are stumped by the shadows, here are the answers: 1.Kiwi  2.Marten  3.Shrew  4.Prairie Dog  5.Warthog  6.Newt  7.Marmot  8.Star-nosed Mole  9.Wombat

Happy Groundhog Day to everyone!

If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter has another flight.
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain
Winter will not come again.