November 22, 1963

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I was 20 years old and working in the Security First National Bank in Inglewood, California where I ran the switch board. The switchboard was a huge old thing with about one hundred cords (lines) and things called keys which opened or closed a line.  It was kind of a boring job, but I liked sitting on the platform positioned above the bank’s main floor where I could see everyone coming and going.  The bank was one of those great old fashioned bank buildings even then from the past, marble columns, marble floors, beautiful wide curving staircase to upper floors carpeted in red plush carpet.  Elevators with polished brass buttons and an Elevator Guide during the hours of 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm when the bank was busiest before it closed its business doors each day at 3:00 pm. Remember that?  Banks used to close at three pm every day.  It was an orderly world and life moved at a measured and expected pace.

I remember I was wearing a teal colored cotton dress that day, which I had bought on sale from a local dress shop.  I loved that dress because no one else had anything in that color and it complimented my eyes, or so I thought.  It was styled with a bias cut bodice, tiny cap sleeves and a full circle skirt that looked great with high heels.  My friends and I had plans to go out that evening, and I thought I looked pretty cute!

The switch board was  quiet for a Friday, and I was sort of day dreaming about the coming weekend.  An outside call came in from a man who told me without preamble that “the president has been shot.”  I looked over to the bank president’s office and I could see him in there so that wasn’t true.  Then the caller said “President Kennedy has been shot.”   I didn’t know who the caller was I just put him on hold and called the bank president’s office, and told him what the caller had said and he took the call.  After about 5 minutes he rang me and told me to announce over the PA system that the bank would be closing at 1:00 pm today.  I made the announcement and there was a flurry of voices on the floor beneath me, and then the president’s office called me again and told me to announce “President Kennedy has been shot.  The bank will be closing at one today.”  I had to make that announcement two more times in that hour.  We didn’t know if our president had been killed or just wounded.  The entire bank suddenly became very quiet.  People finished their business and left.  I could hear crying, but there wasn’t much talking.  The switchboard remained quiet except for a few inquiries asking if “it were true.”

People were standing quietly apart from one another.  There was no wailing, no falling into each other’s arms, no public display of passion and fear.  No one wanted to speculate about this news that would change our world forever, so we pulled into ourselves trying to understand.  I later head stories of how some people cheered or made disparaging comments, but I never head anything like that at the time.

I remember walking out of the bank that afternoon and thinking the light looked different outside than it had before, somehow darker than it should have been.  The streets were eerily quiet, almost deserted.  Most businesses had closed early for the day.  We were stranded in our shock and fear.  There was no Face Book, no Twitter to share personal feelings with strangers, sure that they would want to know what we thought about this. No phones we could carry around in our hands to immediately contact anyone in the world with.  We stood alone and quiet in our confusion, our thoughts jumbled and chaotic.  Many people were crying silently.

It was a short business day that day, but the longest day in our collective history, long and dark and terrifying in a way we had no point of reference to explain, no context to define what this sudden loss would mean for our future.  It was as personal as shame, a barely recognized collective guilt we couldn’t bring ourselves to voice.  An ancient sadness we had long forgotten took a hold of us.  A ghost of guilt awakened in all of us that day, a dark and shameful thing began to insinuate into our souls and our innocence was lost.

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Sketchbook Pages

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I have been working sporadically in a thin sketch book – hoping it wouldn’t be so daunting to fill up the pages.  I seem to have lost momentum this year, and have very little to show for myself for 2013.  I can’t say specifically what the problem is, because I honestly don’t know.  Whatever it is, I hope is works itself out soon and I will emerge with a more clear idea of what I want to say in my art.  For now I jump all around and and envy everyone else for their ability to concentrate, to produce, and to know what they want!  Watercolor, charcoal, graphite.

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The summer Crow Wars seemed to have calmed down a little with the beginning of autumn.  They fought like crazy all summer, often leaving small caches of feathers beneath my deck.  The sparrows fought with them, the jays fought with them, and the crows fought with vocal curses at one another all through the sky- blue days of summer. Watercolor and graphite.

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I don’t know what this is about – just some sadness that came over me one evening and stayed around until I sketched this out. Charcoal and watercolor.

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The Fawn’s Child.  Pastel, oil pastel, graphite.  Sometime I try to imagine what it would be like to live outside all the time.  To know the darkness as well as I know the circles of cast light in my house.  To know time through the seasons of the earth.  It seems so magical, so impossible with all our contrived conveniences and measured time.  But still, I can imagine a great unknown forest with creatures defined by that space.

Horizon, n.1. line where the earth and sky seem to meet.

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The place where earth and sky seem to meet – the place  only the birds can reach.

“Horizon “

Watercolor, acrylic, collage, beeswax.  I used glued down crumpled paper, a bird’s feather, various gel mediums and texture gels, with a final coating of beeswax, on hand-made water color paper. 6 x 6 inches

September always seems to bring me back to life – I love the summer, but this year it seemed long and I spent a great deal of time staring into space.  Not really knowing what I wanted to do.  I did some sewing and that felt good.  I did some sketching in my sketchbook, a little bit of art journaling, and a lot of staring…Although I did have one lovely week at the Oregon coast with my family and celebrated my oldest birthday to date! haha.

Now September is here and I’ve started these small horizon line paintings which have been on my mind before, but never seemed to really get around to doing.  They are all the same size because I am using pages out of a bound blank journal that has this hand-made heavy water-color paper .

The feathers were a gift from Jan Brattain, Laughing Dog Arts.  Thanks Jan!

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One more horizon taken on our holiday at the coast.

A Summer Garden, a Birthday, Something Old, and Rust!

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I haven’t been working on art this month – mostly just playing in the “garden” and organizing things.  The “garden” has bloomed beautifully with summer coming so early to Portland this year.  I’m using quotes around the word “garden because I have only a deck and a lot of pots for my garden!

July 2013 004Here’s one of Mary of the Roses – she’s gotten a little faded this year and now both of her hands have broken, so she stands behind the roses, serene and beautiful.

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This girl had a birthday on the 3rd, my dancer daughter, Cait.

1002443_10201406342105175_627311788_nShe and her husband celebrated her birthday in Hawaii this year.  When Cait was born my mother found her so beautiful and perfect, she said, “Oh I wish I could have another baby.”  Which made us all laugh, but set me to thinking about her statement!

The following year remembering  what she had said I decided to make my mother a doll for her Christmas gift.  A life- sized baby doll, just like Cait.  I came across these old Instamatic photos recently and thought I would share them for a laugh!

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I had no idea what I was doing.  I just went out and bought some stuff called “Sculpy,” a new product that you could sculpt and bake in the oven or air dry and paint.  I don’t think it was meant for large projects, but more as a way to make small figurines, or jewelry parts. I had bigger ideas! I made the head and even though it wasn’t exactly solid, it weighed a ton.  I thought it might grow less heavy as it dried – but not so much.

scan0002The arms and legs were fairly easy, and I hollowed them out pretty well.  I was very disappointed as I recall, because I couldn’t achieve a porcelain looking finish with the acrylics I used to paint it with.  Also I couldn’t get the surface smooth enough – I didn’t know I could sand the stuff.  (no internet to research the answers back then)

scan0003Painting the face is when I really began to despair.  It really didn’t look too bad before I painted it.

scan0004Don’t laugh!!!  They say its the thought that counts, right? – and that’s what I kept telling myself, determined to finish the thing now.  I made it a stuffed body so it would feel cuddly (ha).  I can’t imagine what it would have weighed if I’d sculpted the whole thing! Of course my mother thought it was wonderful and carried the thing around all evening.  It weighed as much as a real baby, and the head was very floppy because it weighed so much and I couldn’t figure out a way to attach it so it didn’t flop!  But it was fun, and now a memory I always recall on Cait’s birthday.

Rust 003This is my new batch of rusty things I just got them yesterday from Etsy.  Yes.  I am rust deprived and have to resort to purchasing my rust!  I have two more packages coming – I can hardly wait!  The hammer to the left of the photo is the cutest little thing. Its a claw head hammer about 8 or 9 inches long.  The handle is wooden, and the head is metal, rusty, of course!

Pearl

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“Pearl”  24 x 30 inches.  Acrylic on canvas.

“Pearl” began life with the ocean in the background and a house beneath her feet, holding hands with her mother and the painting was to have been called “Pearl’s Mother.”  One afternoon I was staring at the unfinished canvas knowing it was all wrong, but couldn’t figure out what to do about it.  The parts worked separately, but all together they didn’t say anything.  So I took a palette knife and began painting over most of the painting with white paint.  The palette knife was a new experience, and I really liked how you could build layers of colors one on top of another!  I painted “Pearl” fairly quickly with the palette knife then went back and added details and painted over with the palette knife again until I liked what was happening.  The Great Blue Heron in the right upper corner I had already painted in and I left it, and the redwood trees beneath it.

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She is holding a eucalyptus branch.  I was thinking of the central coast of California, with the redwoods, the eucalyptus trees and the great blue herons, that are glimpsed only occasionally, these days.  I used to see them flying very high like  great long-legged angels moving across the blue skies.

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I preferred Pearl without any hair.  I did paint some in, but it took away from the intensity of her gaze and I covered it up.  It summarizes her essence  more this way.  Her very human longing for some unspoken thing hidden behind her eyes. I’m not sure if Pearl is yet a child, or if she rests carefully on that cusp between woman and child.

Journeys,Unknown

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I have finally finished my little handmade recycled book.  I’ve called it “Journeys, Unknown.”  I used a cardboard box for most of the structure of this book.  I cut the box into smaller pieces and soaked those pieces in water and removed the brown paper layers and smoothed them out to dry.  Once dry, they were very nice flat heavy weight pieces of paper.  I saved them in a drawer for about a year, and then had an idea of how to use them!   I’ve used scraps of paper left over from other projects, found objects, leaves, twigs, stones, fabric, and broken crockery.

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This is the cover.  I made it from a piece of cardboard I cut from a box.  The little broken ceramic leaf was a small dish my daughter saved for me after one of her dogs swept it from a table and it broke.  She knew, as she said, that I would find a use for it!

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The back of the front cover.  A mushroom print I made on an old book page a few years ago one hot summer when I lived in Bend.  Another daughter and I went to the grocery and bought some large mushrooms and put them on pieces of paper, caps down, and left them for a few days.  This was the resulting print!  My computer is not processing the colors correctly, but you get the idea!

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Page 1 – I shared this previously.  A little carved rabbit, probably from some cuckoo clock I think.

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Page 2.

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Page 3 A.  A leaf I saved from my garden several summer’s ago.  I save them in a big book of Shakespeare.  This one was so thin, I tore it a little when I stuck it down.

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Page 3 B.  A couple of poplar leaves from Shakespeare.  Page 4.  A Gelatin print I did using a fossil saved from Fogarty Creek beach in Oregon.

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Page 5.  My favorite place.  The sea.  “…the sea whispers a cradlesong”

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Overlay leaf for page 6A.  I bought these years ago at some dollar store.  They were intended to us as a liner on plates for placing cheese upon.  They don’t glue down very well, and they don’t take printing on – so I glued the edges into a folded piece of brown paper and will sew them through the brown paper when I bind the book.

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Page 6 A.  A skeleton leaf my daughter sent me when I lived in Bend.  My daughters are always saving small things for me to use in my art.  The leaf is so delicate its like a fragment of lace.

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Pages 6 B Water over stones.

Page 7.  Recycled pieces of fabric, buttons and paper.  Darning is so beautiful to me in it’s utilitarian form , practical; but as art as well. “Darning our lives together with thread pilfered from our dreams…”

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Page 8.  Some scraps from leftover painted paper edges, torn into mountains, sky and foreground.

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Page 9.  Moths knocking against the screen on a summer night. “The moths have come calling, leaving their silver at the door.”

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Page 10 and page 11. “And the moth-hour went from the fields…” w b yeats.

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Page 12.  Seed pods and birds traveling on their unknown journeys.

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Another leaf overlay covers page 13.

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Page 13 and page 14 A.

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Page 14 B.

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Page 14 C .

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Page 15.  A copy of an old sketch I did and printed onto a piece of bright green vellum.

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Page 16.  These small journeys we travel without knowing where they may lead us; these journeys that connect us to one another, and to the greater mystery of nature.