I closed the curtains and painted all day. My heart was full of sadness. I thought of George Floyd and the picture of the policeman aiming a gun near a little black boy who was on the shoulders of, probably his daddy. The sadness has lingered and my body aches from the hours of painting, but the day was full of challenges like how do I make a bird’s wing ethereal looking. With the death of George Floyd comes an email from a friend, The Irish Blessing – over 300 churches sing a blessing over Ireland.
Tomorrow, I’m going to Friday’s at Five, a digital jazz concert. I’ll stay right here in my room.
I love to go to jazz concerts with my son. Before the lights are turned down low, we order a glass of wine and settle down for the show. I listen for a bit then I start sketching – eye to hand to paper. It’s dark during the concert so it’s always a surprise to see how the sketches turned out. My subject matter won’t be live performers. I’m looking forward to seeing what I’ll produce!
Check out. sfjazz.org. New videos will be posted on YouTube every Tuesday and there is an interesting selection of playlists to listen to on Spotify.
What has made this year’s America’s Cup truly breathtaking is the television coverage.
(click on images to enlarge)
The Cup is the oldest major trophy in sport… Pushed into a postmodern place
America’s Cup: Do you believe in miracles?
The epic battle over the past few days has been a major vindication of the vision of how to modernize the competition
A comeback for the ages
The greatest comeback in sports history
Amazing television? Check? Crowds on the waterfront? Check. Exciting racing? Check and double check
“I think about this regatta and what it means to sailing,” said Ellison. “I think it was absolutely spectacular. If a bunch of kids are inspired to go sail, I’m a happy guy.”
Painting the sounds created by Brad Mehldau April 25 2013
Last night I went to a solo concert by Brad Mehldau, a young pianist in jazz. I decided to leave my crazy mind, my business mind and my mind that is crammed with issues from ‘the other world’ and go back to my world – art. I had planned to bring a small moleskine notebook and a tiny box of watercolors. But Mehldau is big, bigger than a little moleskine notebook so I bought a larger book, one that could still fit into my purse. I bought some neocolor watercolors, soluble caron d’ache crayons. (I could draw now, later add water to them if I wanted.) I had an aisle seat at the SFJAZZ Center. I wouldn’t distract anyone if I sketched during the performance.
How was going to paint sound? The concert started – I listened – tentatively, I started to sketch what I was hearing. Interpreting the concert in a whole new way, I made one drawing after another listening to the notes build and fall, soften and sprinkle. It was like being on drugs. I was full of music. One time I came out of that world and looked at Mehldau sitting there, playing the piano, my mind drawing what I saw. How different. How much richer my experience of drawing and listening had become.
Sketch made at Yoshi’s in 2011
At the beginning of the concert I was just using crayons, but some drinking water was by my feet. Rubbing a little of water on my paper in the dark, I put crayon to paper.. Oh how nice! What neat effects! Needless to say I kept going, pouring more water on the paper, hunting for a tissue to mop up my drawing and my lap!
Before going to bed I couldn’t wait. I looked at my drawings and worked on them a little knowing his music was still fresh in my head. Waking up this morning thinking about the sketches I started planning a big abstract painting about sound. I remember Ralph DuCasse, my mentor, saying, when you are into your painting the first thought in your head when you wake up is about your painting. You want to go see what you did the night before. Leigh Hyams would have said the same thing. She was there on my shoulder when I was drawing. I think the following painting was made while I listened to ‘Holland.’ Do any of the sketches remind you of a particular piece Mehldau plays? Click on images to see details of the drawings.
(where you were in your life, 2 stories interacting, a dramatic moment)
While anchoring a large canvas with my foot I keep my painting from sailing off the rock. Trying not to get the fine reddish dirt in the paint I lean over and dig my brush into a pile of ultramarine blue. My oil paintings are getting too blue. Being from Northern California, I have gone overboard with blues. All that sky and water. I set up an area to work in before the tourists start their day. A photographer for the daily newspaper walks up to see what I am doing. She takes my picture for the weekend edition. I guess that’s cool. I’ll send it home. Something for my family and friends to talk about.
The ocean is new to me. I’m used to lawn not sand. I don’t want to sit and be all sticky and gritty. But my children age 8 and 11 want to surf. While shopping in The Village I had seen a card posted on an announcement board, “Ocean swimming lessons for children, call 946-6342.” This is the way I found Tim, a blonde Greek Godlike young man.
I can smell the ocean. Most of the time the breeze is moving in the other direction and you smell the sweetness of tropical flowers in bloom. The board by the lifeguard hut says twenty foot visibility, no chop, 68 degrees. Good, the water is warm, no surf. Pelicans are on the rock and cormorants are diving for fish. Maybe I’ll see some fish today. I can already see the orange flash of a Garibaldi making her nest by the rocks. Tim arrives, wearing a full wetsuit and fins. I don’t get any. I’m supposed to follow him with a mask and snorkel. When I want to see something from the ocean floor I tell him. He’ll dive, bring it up and show me. The idea being, I won’t be scared when I see nature up close. I gingerly step in, push-off and go, following Tim’s yellow fins. Next, I try out my equipment. Breathing with a snorkel is impossible! Inhale, exhale, nose, mouth; water is everywhere. I haven’t even had a mask on before. I can’t remember what to do. The water is so salty! I start looking around. There’s a whole new world down there. I point, then watch this beautiful man dive to fetch eel grass, kelp,and barnacles. How weird, there’s a lobster. It has no color. It’s gray-brown. You dummy, it hasn’t been cooked! I stick some pinkish purple kelp down the front of my bathing suit. After smuggling it home I can copy it’s beautiful color and delicate lacelike appearance. We decide it’s a good day to go over to the right and swim through the cave. A bunch of lanky teenagers have gathered on this outcropping of rock called The Clam. A rite of passage down here is to jump off The Clam. Looking through my mask I see a baitball of transparent smelt, eel grass gently swaying back and forth and the sand. I like this. Carefully, we float over the rocks through the cave. Tim says, “Be careful when you come out at the other end.” I thought I knew what he meant, but I didn’t think he meant what actually happened. I slip out rolling over on my back so I can look at the rocks, no one is jumping. The boys are dancing around, getting up their nerve, girls giggling behind them.
There’s a cold spot. I’m out in the ocean. I can’t see the bottom. It’s deep and dark. Where’s Tim? Where do I go? There he is, but ,oh, what’s that? There’s a rock. It’s so smooth,. It’s very big. It’s moving! oh, no it’s a very big fish. I think it’s a whale, one of those gray whales. I can’t find Tim. He must be on the other side of this guy. The mottled gray whale breaks the surface, submerges and appears again.. I tread water. It’s the only thing I can do because he’s circling me. Up, down, like a sea serpent this undulating smooth shape swims around me. He’s so close I could reach out and touch him. A little wrinkled eye looks at me. Barnacles attached to his smooth head are hard and glass like. You’d think they would hurt. My heart is going to pound right out of my skin. Is he afraid? I am. Looking around I see I have no escape so I decide to enjoy this moment. I calm down my heart and mind. It’s quiet. The only sound I hear is the water shushing when he dips and rises. Ducking under water I see his flippers, then his tail flukes. The whale must be about the size of three or four trucks lined up, one behind the other, just a baby. Heavy, I wonder how much he weighs. After an unknown amount of time, my curious visitor straightens his path and glides out to sea. Tim is gone. I swim back with a story to tell. Someone said Tim left me to follow the whale, but I know I was the only one there. Standing against the sun-baked wall I shiver uncontrollably until the sun’s warmth penetrates my body.
In my studio the lacelike piece of seaweed is floating in a bowl of water, the newspaper clipping lies next to it, abstract paintings of The Cove are stacked up in the corner. And, there’s a newly stretched canvas hanging on the wall.
The idea for posting this story came from a blogger named Fritzz, http://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/story-challenge-letter-w/. The above is about one of my water experiences. I became an avid ocean swimmer after that day.
click on image to see detail
Walking up to the top of the hill in Calistoga, California, I sat down on a path in a stand of trees. It was quiet. I thought about being present while I sketched the space between the trees. I sketched the silence and breeze surrounding the space.
Back in the studio I translated into painting my interpretation of the space, the breeze, around the trees. Then I needed to put the trees in. How did my body respond to those tall trees all around me? I know too much. I know how to paint a green forest. Instead of painting the same old thing, I wanted to grow. I wanted to take risks. After painting two abstract blue tree trunks, I added a red wood plank. Leaving the painting, then coming back later gave me some distance from the piece. Something was missing. It just wasn’t very interesting. The strong blue and red had taken over the marks of silence.
I looked out the open door next to my painting corner and a white horse walked by. That’s it! I grabbed a piece of charcoal and quickly added the horse to my painting. The horse was perfect in that space. The light application of the horse brought attention to the quiet breeze. The painting was now balanced. ‘Ghost Horse’ was finished.
This painting was to be the beginning of a series about animals. A year and a half later it ended up being the first in the Red Line Series.
‘Rolled’ acrylic on canvas 4 x 5 feet click on image to see details
After reading my blog on the Blue Angels air show and America’s Cup races, one of my blogger friends said she was looking forward to the translation of the day in paint. What went through my head was what was on my wall at that moment in my studio. The painting couldn’t be more opposite from my photographs of that lovely day in San Francisco. I remember Nell Sinton, a painter who was my mentor, saying to me, “Carla, we artists are different. When others around us are talking about the state of politics or what is happening in Greece, we are looking at the shape of a doorknob.” The people who are talking around me are saying, “What did you think of the Presidential debates last night?” My mind wanders. I’m thinking How would I paint that half eaten fig? What colors would I choose? Shall I abstract the form or shall I try drawing it just as I see it. The colors are deep – lots of different colors in that piece of fruit. I could photograph it. Even photography changes the image. Everyone sees an object differently. I should draw every day. But, I don’t. why not?
To answer my new blogger friend you probably won’t see those images in paintings. ‘Rolled’ refers to the days when I was an ocean swimmer and participated in rough water races. Entering a wave must be precisely timed. If you dive into that wave too late you get rolled and don’t know which way is up.