Saturday, March 31, 2012


Here's what is sometimes startling: I make a piece of art that I think comes straight from my head. Well, maybe not straight, maybe down a crooked path, a winding road, or a warped arc! But I think is definitely something I have created on my own.

By now you know we love to travel to visit art museums and soak up all kinds of art and be surprised by liking shows we thought would be blah. Whenever possible, which usually means while looking at pieces in a museum's permanent collection, we like to take pictures of pieces that catch our attention. The pictures aren't that great since you usually can't use flash in a museum. When we get home Susan uploads them to the computer in a separate folder and we look at them and reminisce and then they just gradually get forgotten.

Forgotten by me, that is. But Susan has a mind like a steel trap. This Warrior piece (about 15" high) was made about a year ago and never glazed so I finally I got the ultimatum from her to doing something about it or she'd start painting on it  When I finished it I really liked it and she did too but kept saying that it reminded her of something we'd seen.

Ta-da! Yes, I did create Warrior all on my own. But somewhere in the back of my mind I might have been encouraged to go down the road I did by the dim memory, nearly three years back, of this plaster, paint and metal piece by David Bates, seen at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.  It's hidden at the back, sort of like an outcast relative, near the secret staircase we always use.

Male Head IV, David Bates

(detail), David Bates

Just goes to prove that there is nothing really new in the art world, just our newer eyes and minds. Somewhere, ancient cave painters are looking down at today's art world and saying "I already did that!"

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Going My Way

Sometimes life completely confounds me. Sometimes I am fully flummoxed by life. Sometimes it helps to not listen to the news or read the paper. Sometimes I think God must be up there, shaking his finger at us, saying "Don't make me come down there!" (Did you hear an echo of your mother's voice just then?) Sometimes honest, hard-working people restore your faith in believing that we have not all sunk to accepting the Lowest Common Denominator in life.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Losing My Way

More maps. The idea of maps is sort of out of left field for me because I couldn't read a map if my life depended on it.  Susan's father was a pilot during WW II and she still has some of his silk maps. The maps were what pilots flying in the Pacific carried in case they were shot down. They were made out of silk so they'd be useful even if the pilot had ditched in the ocean. Hopefully they would be able to figure out where they were. In my case I'd probably have looked at the map and headed toward Greenland.

About this time you are wondering how bad my navigation skills can be. OK, I'll tell you. When we take our long road trips Susan is the navigator. She can read an upside down real giant-size paper map in the dark and doesn't even need the Google maps with the blue I-Am-Here button on them.

She plots our trips and tells me the highways and the routes we'll need for the next hour (we switch off the driving task every hour or so).  Then she tries to take a nap or read something. You know how some people swear and curse and people say "they cursed a blue streak"? If you want Susan's curses to turn the air Navy Blue all you have to do is say "Was that our exit I just drove past?"

The real fun comes when it's her turn to drive and I have to try to figure something out on the map because there's a detour or something unplanned, even though she highlights the route on the map. First of all, it's really big and hard to unfold the map without flapping it in her face. Second of all, I can't seem to get Google maps on my phone until we are really in the wrong direction. And I keep forgetting the I-Am-Here button. It gets really interesting when she grabs the map and tries to figure it out herself. While she's driving 70 miles an hour. And turning the air Navy Blue.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Seth Apter: The Pulse of Mixed Media

Art by Seth Apter

One of the distinct benefits of having a blog is getting to know fellow artists through their comments on your blog.  You check out their blog and sometimes the casual link becomes a bond between two kindred souls. That's what happened to me with Seth Apter, despite the fact that I am one of the world's worst when it comes to looking at and commenting on other's blogs. (Susan speaks: Not to mention responding to comments on his own blog. Just remember, I'm the Blog Wrangler, not the Boss-of-Him, no matter how hard I try.) 

It's really great if you are lucky enough to meet them in person. But it gets frightening when they ask you to contribute something for a book they are writing. What will I say? Who cares what I have to say? My art? Is it good enough? Not! Who, ME???? ME in a book? Arghhhh! The pressure! Could I possibly say "No, but thank you?"

Not a chance. Not one person could ever say No to one of the most prolific bloggers supporting mixed-media artists. Not one person could ever say No to one of the most talented mixed-media artists out there -- an artist who spends most of his time promoting everyone but himself.  He is one of the nicest guys around  and proof of that is in these two pictures of us showing Seth patiently listening while I expound on the frailities of mankind and other dubious subjects of which I have no useful knowledge.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Seth Apter and his amazing new book:

Not only does Seth have a great book out, he included me in it! In case you didn't notice, that's unabashed self-promotion on my part. For your part, take a look at the book.  Then take a look at Seth's blog, The Altered Page.

Seth Apter, Artist and Author, tell me:
You have a day job, you jog in Central Park, you blog,
you email, you look at my blog and lots of other blogs,
 you comment on a multitude of blogs, you Facebook,
you Twitter, you take workshops, you teach workshops,
you create art, you write articles and books, and you give interviews.
So.... do you ever sleep?

Seth made me answer a lot of questions for his book so I was going to ask him this question, post his answer here, and ask for feedback from everyone. Instead, I went back and looked at some of the old emails we had exchanged and found his response to a comment I made about how organized his studio was compared to mine:
" I realized as I was preparing this post just how 'organized' the board was. I seem to be learning a little bit about myself from this one!
Best, Seth."

Here's what I have figured out:
Seth doesn't sleep because that's the time he uses to keep his studio organized. It isn't something he's always done, it's something he's learned to do and is how he has time to do everything in the world and still look calm.  The proof is in these blog entries, where you'll see the gradual change in his Inspiration Board from Normal Messy to Mr. Tidy to Mr. Neat to Mr. Totally and Disgustingly Organized.

Take a hard look at this last post of his studio:
Books on shelf arranged in height order.
All the brushes in the can are brush-end up.
The lids are on all the tubes and jars.
The drawers with papers in them could actually be closed
 without stuff sticking out.
And, best/worst of all, the pictures on his inspiration board all
line up neatly with no overlapping.

I might be able to clean up my studio and have it look as good as Seth's but every time that thought surfaces I decide to take a nap.

Finally, continuing on through the end of the month Seth will be featuring one artist every day.

I've been looking at each of my fellow artists and WOW! I am totally and completely humbled. It is frightening to consider the fact that I am included among the other artists I look to for inspiration, information and support. Artists who write books I buy and use for instruction and for eye-candy viewing. Real artists! I'd go beat my head against the wall in frustration, jealousy and envy except for the fact that I'm too busy looking at their blogs.

Final Note:  Seth's GIVEAWAY!!
If you go to Seth Apter's blog, The Altered Page, and leave a comment, your name will be put into a drawing for a free copy of his book, The Pulse of Mixed Media. He is giving away 3 copies and you can leave a comment every day for the month of March. Plus you will get to see his posts on 31 artists who are featured in the book.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Before and After and Lightning McQueen

I finally got these pieces glazed and over to Austin Art Garage.  We are calling these pieces "The Baby Bump - Before and After".  More pictures pending.

Speaking of babies, we have a new friend, Clint, who has a toddler, Cade, at home. It is amazing what you learn (or re-learn) about little kids when you talk to people who actually have one crawling around in their house. From Clint we learned that little boys get excited about Lightning McQueen. Of coures we had no clue who that was but he explained it involved racing cars. Oh yeah, Steve McQueen! Oops, big Generation Gap revealed --today it is Lightning McQueen. 

Anyway, we were all browsing around a hardwear store when Susan spotted this fancy child's small potty training seat (fits over a regular toilet seat) and pointed it out to Clint. You would have thought he'd won the Lottery the way he snatched it up! He thinks it will speed Cade down the potty training road but, based on its small size, we are quite certain Cade will be wearing this on his head for several days.

Friday, March 2, 2012


When I came home from hot, steamy Vietnam, the Air Force sent us to New Hampshire. We chugged up there during January from Texas in our little 1967 VW Bug, innocently asking ourselves "What does that 'Frost Heaves' sign mean?" as I battled through a snowstorm. After we'd been there about five months Susan finally asked me if she would ever have warm bones again. Well, maybe not until we left, which was a long 11 months away. So I did the best I could do -- I got her Arlo, a little kitten.

Our neighbors found Arlo for us and said Arlo was definitely a Barn Cat. So? Little did I know. Here's what we learned about Barn Cats: They are mixed breed, usually a combination of whatever lived within a mile and came prowling around, they live mainly in barns and are therefore ferocious hunters. They are only a notch or two above wild or feral cats, the main difference being that they like being held and petted. On their terms. They like to be active - in hindsight, maybe sort of like a cat on speed.

The Air Force provided me with a very heavy all-wool coat to wear over my dress uniform (and a fox-lined coat to wear on the flight line). The picture below is sort of what it looked like, the main point here being the big buttons on the front. One day, not long after we got Arlo, I put my coat on and was walking through the living room to the front door. Arlo had been near the door, spotted the buttons on my coat and before we knew it, jumped up onto the back of the couch, launched himself through the air and splatted himself flat onto my chest, claws digging into the coat as he tried to capture the buttons.

OK, faithful Blog readers, now you are wondering what this has to do with the two pictures. They are of the very first ceramic piece I ever made, it's about 15" tall and weighs a ton. Susan proudly put it on a pedestal with pussywillow branches in it. As we stood admiring it, Arlo spotted it. A Barn Cat likes to climb up on anything it sees and those branches looked good to him so he took a flying leap at the branches. If you look closely at the second picture you can see the chip and the line where I glued the pieces back together.

We had Arlo for just a few years, he lived hard and died young. We should have named him James Dean.

P.S. It is not a good thing to sleep Commando if you have a Barn Cat wandering around.