This spring has been crazy. International travel, one-person show, looming medical test, backbreaking commission, exciting deck project--no wonder I've neglected my blog! So in an attempt to catch up and maybe not have to write a hundred thousand words in doing so, here's a little photo essay. While you read and look at the photos, I urge you to listen to Steal Away by Robbie Dupree, a song that has been on a constant loop in my head for two weeks, no foolin'.
(I can't get on board with the illustration here. I just can't. I don't like the way nearly all Japanese manga illustrators draw faces.)
Anyway, that song's been driving me up the wall, and I'm sorry if it's in your head too, now. There's no getting it out, like those Star Trek bugs.
GAH I CAN'T EVEN WATCH THAT!
Off to a bad start, sorry. Here's my update. Bun will make it better.
Last month, completely out of nowhere, a tornado warning hit while Jeff was taking a nap and I was reading. Jeff has a new app on his phone that alerts us to severe weather with a variety of sounds, a different one for every type of warning. The phone was making some noise, but sleeping Jeff and I ignored it because honestly Jeff has about 15 other phone alarms that indicate who-knows-what every afternoon (various calendar reminders and work stuff).
We eventually decided to see what was going on--the weather gave us no indication of impending doom, just some clouds, but indeed a tornado warning had been issued. Jeff scooped up Bun, I grabbed Pache and Q, and we headed to the bathroom. During the scooping process, my phone rang, and it was Melissa calling to tell us about the storm. She was in Champaign, some ten miles west of our house, and apparently actual funnel clouds were happening and headed our way. Here's one of the many photos I saw on Facebook almost immediately, most of them taken by former students who probably should not have been out chasing storms.
We rode out the brief storm with our big-eyed cats. It didn't last long and, as usual, seemed to skip right over us.
I keep meaning to write about my show in Jacksonville! I displayed my wares at the David Strawn Art Gallery during the month of April. This involved three long, 266-mile round trips in the Mazda: one to deliver the paintings, one for the opening, and one to take the paintings home. On the day of my opening, Jeff and I were up before sunrise and drove to the gallery. I gave a 6-hour workshop (watercolor still life) in the Strawn's basement classroom. I changed and put on my makeup in a gas station bathroom, and then we had an early supper with Mom, Dad, Poof, and Tyler before my two-hour opening. After it was over, we drove all the way back home, so that made for a very long but ultimately enjoyable Saturday. I've never had so many people attend one of my art shows and even managed to sell a fair number of paintings. Who knew that Jacksonville was such an artsy town?
Thanks to all of my friends and family who came to see the show. I was thrilled to see Kendra, Rob, Melinda, Kate, Mabel, Lars, Michelle, Grace, Jay & TA, and even Karen Icenogle, my high school art teacher! I hadn't seen her in a very long time, and she looked at me and said, "I love you." It was all I could do to keep from bursting into tears.
In other art news, I've finally begun work on a commissioned painting that's going to take a couple of months to complete at least. It's a wedding present from a top secret groom to his top secret bride. The wedding is in September, so I won't be able to show it to you until then, which is a shame because this painting is, in a word, bonkers. I can tell you that it includes eleven people and eleven statues, and it takes place in a gold and red art deco theater lobby. The painting is huge at nearly three feet by three feet. That was too big for my studio table, so I've moved my whole production downstairs to our bedroom where we have a large desk. I blurred the reference image on my computer there, but I think I can show you a five-inch chunk that is in fact .8 percent of the final picture.
So it's mostly that kind of thing.
Bun loves the new setup because while I work she gets to sleep on the bed and do cute things like this.
I've been in IWS's last three national shows. That means I'm a signature member of the Illinois Watercolor Society and can now add "IWS" to my signature on future paintings!
Jeff, who appears to be throwing down a gang sign, and my parents came to the show with me and made the day very special.
Artist and judge Donna Jill Witty presented a terrific and dramatic watercolor demonstration during the show. I am the giant black shape on the left that seems to be absorbing all light in the room--I am almost as dark as those aliens from Attack the Block.
That was such a good movie.
In case you've never seen our house, here's what it looks like. It's a American Craftsman house with big boxes added to each end and is delighfully weird. The steps in the center lead to a massive, 760 square-foot deck that we never use and is a bit warped and dated. You can see a corner of it here.
About a month and a half ago, we began taking the deck out. Parts of it were so rotten and poorly constructed that it was almost a simply-lift-with-hands-to-remove kind of situation. Soon it was gone, and now we're dealing with the fun part: figuring out what to do with all of that new space.
We're going to have a table and chairs sitting atop flagstones on the right, a fire pit on the left, dark rock filling in, and a line of lighter rock dividing the space horizontally.
Here's a shot of the Adirondack chairs and fire pit (which I spotted at Menard's, majorly on sale). We put a ring of bricks around the pit and love the way it looks.
Below that will be a rock garden that mimics a dry stream with a bird bath.
Jeff arranged a lot of that on Sunday afternoon as I was taking a shower, and when I looked at it from the living room it instantly reminded me of a brain, which was unintentionally awesome.
We'll have some black mulch and new plants down there, including a rose-of-sharon and a dwarf burning bush, along with vines, grasses, and other flowers.
Here's what it looks like so far (sorry about the bleached-out lighting situation). You can kind of see the flagstones under the table.
Jeff and I often find ourselves staring out the window at this scene multiple times per day, contemplating our next move.
I'm nuts about moss roses and have been planting lots of them. Hopefully no woodland creatures plan to eat them, such as...
Two years ago, we hosted a family of woodchucks. Last year we had foxes. This year our house has become a chipmunk sanctuary. I like to put seeds out for them, and as many as four chipmunks are eating seeds at any given time. The cats enjoy watching these little guys, especially Quixote, who gets incredibly worked up.
We also have some adorable juvie Canadian geese in the neighborhood!
On the food front, I've been trying various experiments in low-cal food that are pretty good but not great enough to merit blogging, such as:
And oh, my colposcopy? I'll spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. To amuse myself during the procedure, which is essentially a super-pap, I altered Paul Simon's Kodachrome and sang it to myself with altered lyrics as Kolposcope.
Kolposco-o-ope! It gives us those nice bright colors, it gives us the--
You get the idea.
It was essentially no big thing and took maybe five minutes. My area of concern was miniscule, and my doctor told me everything that was happening as I looked up at the ceiling, silently humming my tune. I didn't even faint, and evidently they get a lot of fainters. The doctor told me that based on what she saw, I had nothing to worry about. Unfortunately I was instructed to have zero marital fun with Jeff for ten days afterward so I could heal properly, so that was was a complete drag.
After a few tense days, I called for my results and it turns out I'm basically in the clear. But anyone who gets any kind of abnormal pap test and has a colposcopy/biopsy at my hospital is sentenced to three additional paps during the next year, so I've got that to look forward to. But I have been assured that my test results look very good. The paps are just a precaution, and the hospital presumably has lots of big shiny equipment and snazzy waiting room furniture they need to pay for.
Let's end this on a cute note. Here's Hypatia, one of three cats who piled up on me after the colposcopy. I was recovering under the "wookiee blanket," and Pache showed a certain amount of bravery in climbing aboard, as she is afraid of the wookiee blanket.