Sunday, July 23, 2006


After months of trying and failing, busy schedules and otherwise hectic lives, Linda and I managed another sketchcrawl of Knoxville. It was actually more photo-crawl than sketchcrawl, but that's good too! We found out one day when we were talking that both of us had been quite fascinated with a row of old warehouses downtown - most of which had broken windows and general shabby appearance - and so we decided to go and try to capture them on (digi) film Saturday. We might have sat and sketched them, but there were way too many warning signs about the fact that our presence was against company policy, etc., so we decided that it might be best to snap a few photos and move on.

Looking at the warehouses got us kind of stumped as to what kind of church was just behind them, so off we went to investigate. It was the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and they were getting ready for a wedding. I managed to completely mangle the steeple of the church (what was I thinking - total perspective NIGHTMARE), while Linda sketched the other side of the warehouse row. It didn't look so bad from the other side.

While we were looking for a parking place, we ended up right in front of the Downtown Gallery, an extension of one of The University of Tennessee's Art Department galleries. They had an interesting exhibition called THRESHOLDS: Expressions of Art and Spiritual Life and so we spent a little time wandering through it. Some of the works, I just gotta say - I didn't get. Not a clue. A couple of them were magnificent, though, like the at least 6 foot long woodcut of Jonah and the Big Fish, and a huge acrylic and mixed media work called "Warring Unbelief" - I could have stood and looked at that one all day, just trying to sort out the symbolism. Cool. (If you go to the website link above, and roll your cursor over the images, it pops up in the central image - not that you can tell much, but...

Anyhow, we ended up at Starbuck's and finally got out the Moleskines. What is it about 'buck's that encourages such activity? I don't know - maybe they put something in the espresso...
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Monday, July 17, 2006

A Day in Court

I spent the morning with some friends sitting in the General Sessions Division I court. Nope, I'm not in trouble, we were just there to support a young lady we know through a women's shelter here in K'ville. She's a 29-year old addict who has been on the streets for a while and is in the process of trying to turn her life around. She's been clean for about 2 months, and was in court today to face some possession charges and a failure to appear charge.

My friends and I know her through one of the outreach ministries of our church. We take dinner and activities to the shelter on the first and third Tuesdays of the month, so we can have a chance to talk with the ladies there, sit down and eat a meal together, play some games and have a little fun. It has really been a wonderful time - the ladies at the shelter have responded to us, we've made some friends, and unfortunately, we've seen a few leave and not make it through the program. Sometimes the call of the crack is a lot more appealing than the Hope of The Rock.

Anyhow - E had called to tell us she was going to court and to ask if someone could come and sit with her - I don't think she expected 7 of us to show up! We filled up an entire row. Mr. Steele, the court officer, shushed us pretty much immediately, and then, not being satisfied with our shushed-ness, reiterated his shush with a threat to remove us from the courtroom. We got the point. Kathleen, or as she is going to be known from now on -The Defiant One- received a phone call, and her phone was promptly confiscated. We were all a little fearful that she was going to resist and be arrested, but she finally complied. Maynelle was egging her on. Mr. Steele was pretty stern. He made a lady with a baby leave, because the baby kept cooing. I did manage to keep the Moleskine out without having it confiscated, but I guess that's 'cause it didn't make any noise.

The Honorable Judge Chuck Cerny was presiding. He was 45-ish, amiable but firm. Traffic violations were first on the docket, and it was interesting to see how adeptly he handled all the cases. He was very pleasant to all the defendants, heard their cases and promised to check up on all of them. He wasn't quite so kind in the arraignment docket, but he still seemed fairly congenial. That didn't stop him from sending E off to booking in handcuffs with the ever disagreeable Mr. Steele. That was mostly a formality, to make up for the earlier failure to appear. She was to be released on her own recognizance.

Just as a history and civics lesson, it was interesting. It was kind of like a microcosm of society in one large room. People from every walk of life were all on the same level playing field there. There was a guy facing possession charges who looked like he just parked his Beemer seated right next to a woman facing possession charges who looked like she hadn't eaten or bathed in a week. Hmmm...maybe WE aren't so different than matter which side of it we are on.
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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Rufus Watercolor

Okay - I sprung for 4 tubes of Winsor and Newton Artists' Water Colour paint earlier this week - something I've been reluctant to do because I really don't know how to use them and the real stuff is kind of pricey. I've had some 140lb Arches cold press sitting around for a couple of months that I've put off using (Yes, Linda - the stuff I bought when we went to the Orangery and Jerry's). So - I finally decided to dive in and use it.

Meet Rufus. He lives on San Salvador, Bahamas, and was one of the subjects in this weekend's drawing event over at Wet Canvas. One look at his face and I knew he had to be painted! I mean - don't you just want to meet him?? Anyhow - when I left it last night (first picture) I was sure I had ruined him. Yikes. But this morning, I decided to see if I could salvage the painting. I was willing to break out the acrylics if nothing got any better.

Well - the second picture is my finish. You can see a full size one here - for some reason, blogger wasn't letting me add it! What do you think? I've got to say I'm pretty happy with it. There are some things I would do differently, now, but overall, I am satisfied that my first real watercolor portrait (I mean with multiple colors - not like the monochromatic last post) on real watercolor paper looks like a person, has semi-realistic flesh tones (that's rarely my goal) and the light you see in watercolor paintings is THERE!! Yippee!!

I wonder what would happen if I sprung for more colors?

8x11 watercolor on Arches 140lb coldpress
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Friday, July 14, 2006

WDE Self Portrait


It's not bragging - it's just affirming...

watercolor and white sharpie poster pen on multimedia artboard 8x10.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

EDM #75 - Mama Dee Pound Cake

Response to EDM Challenge #75 - in my large Moleskine sketchbook.
This is my maternal grandmother's (Mama Dee) recipe for pound cake. She's been making it as long as I can remember, and when I go down to Alabama, she still makes it for me. I've loved it since I was a child. Mama Dee is one of those special people who have had a great deal of influence in my life - more, probably, than I even know.

She grew up during the Great Depression, and still saves her aluminum foil and washes out the ziploc bags after she uses them. She worked her way through nursing school and still refuses to go to the doctor when she's ill. She sent her husband off to World War II and had my mom while he was away. She's outlived both of her parents, two brothers, a grandson and countless cousins and friends. She's been married to my grandfather (Papa Dee, of course) for 65 years and they still share a DOUBLE bed.

I lived with my grandparents for the first year I was in college, and one of my fondest memories is that Mama Dee hummed all the time - mostly old hymns, and usually while she was working in the garden or doing housework. She doesn't remember things like she used to, and she doesn't get out and about as much as she once did, but at 86 years old, she is still making pound cakes, and she's still humming. I hope she always does.
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Can I Get A Witness?

Okay, I'll just go ahead and confess to having an angst-ridden morning - likely heavily influence by a 6 am wake-up, but here goes. I'm a stay-at-home-mom and part-time homeschooler (my kids go to school 3 days a week, we hs the other two), a wife, an artist, a musician, friend, blogger, etc. So, like most people I know, I wear many hats in my day. One of my least favorite hats is housekeeper. It's not that my house is DIRTY, it's just, well, lived in. The clothes get washed and folded, but they may sit on the recliner in my bedroom for a week until it is time to wash them again; the papers pile up on the end of my counter, or on the kitchen table until we can't eat there, and then I try to figure out what to do with them, etc.

Anyhow - I started thinking this morning about why it is that I feel so guilty about painting or drawing when I could be putting away clothes or filing paperwork, and I've come to two conclusions:

1. I don't value my artwork very highly. Somewhere, back in my past, someone either said or implied (either to me, or regarding someone else - I don't know...I'm just speculating here) that it was a waste of time or that it always had to be secondary to my real "job". Well, what if art is my "real" job? I haven't ever really considered it that, mainly because I haven't sold anything or shown in any real shows. But maybe that's because I don't consider it my real "job" either. What if I were to really get out there and take some risks and try to sell? I've tried a couple of shows, been rejected, and stopped. What if I were to spend 8 hours a day in my studio working out concepts and ideas and try some new things? What if I really spent some time investigating the market that my art might be saleable in? What if my kids brought me lunch while I was working, rather than...okay...that may be pushing it.

2. As a society we've placed a higher value on the idea of home as a perfect, spotless ideal than as a place to play and enjoy life and teach our children about art and nature and messy stuff. Just take a look at some of the shows on daytime television (which I don't watch now, but have in the past). There's one in particular that I won't mention by name, but the woman goes through her day sharing tips on the use of capers and garlic presses and the delight of folding a fitted sheet just the right way so that it fits in the linen cupboard just like a flat sheet. Whew -now that's living. oops. I mean - that's a great way to live. How many people out there are watching that and thinking, "gosh, my fitted sheets are all fluffy and rounded and I have to kind of jam them in between the hand towels and the crock pot because I don't even have a linen closet. I'm such a loser." STOP THE MADNESS!! A home that doesn't border on antiseptic cleanliness, but is full of laughter and glee, of silliness and puppet shows, of music and art is probably more healthy anyway. We need some germs to keep our antibodies up.

So, the moral of this story is...Diahn...either start placing more value on artwork than housework, or put away the paint and call yourself Mar...uh...oh, right - like that's going to happen...
(in my large Moleskine sketchbook)
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Monday, July 10, 2006

Four Completely Unrelated Sketches

I hate to do that, but I was feeling the need to catch up, and I didn't want to do 4 separate posts! I know you will all bear with me! This week, D is at camp, so J and I are going to be wandering around aimlessly, wondering what do do with each other. Today we hit our local Jerry's Artarama (we can't go with D - it bores him tremendously) and then went on what could be the equivalent of a sketchcrawl with an almost 5-year old. When I get his copyright permission, I'll post his, too. So - this is my sketch from our date. We went to Cherokee Park in the beautiful Sequoyah Hills area and sat on a bench by the river/lake/whatever it is here. This house has always kind of intrigued me. It is HUGE, perched atop a bluff overlooking the river, and is just such a contradiction in style. It has a very contemporary, straight-line feel, with those Italianate arches and the Chinese pagoda-style roof. It's a multi-cultural house, I suppose. Anyway - as you can see, Tennessee is very GREEN in July...

This is a rather stylized sketch/illustration of Oscar, as he lounged on the floor next to the couch a couple of nights ago. I'm going to have to send him to the gym or something - he's developed a rather obvious paunch. I just loved the way he curled that one foot up and looked at me like "okay - explain to me again why that little dog can get on the couch and I can't???" It's a very touchy subject...

We went camping last weekend, to the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area. Phew - long name - whatever happened to National PARK? Anyhow, these are some of the things we saw while we there. I was really fascinated by the bracing system for the low water bridge. I finally figured out that they used the railroad railing to prevent the boards from washing off when the water was up. And, did you know that Sassafrass tress have three different kinds of leaves? I didn't. Now I do. Isn't camping great??

Last but not least, before the camping trip, the boys and I met my mom in Fort Payne, Alabama and for a couple of days and hung out. We went over to Desoto State Park and Desoto Falls. The river was down, so the falls weren't as great as I have seen them, but it was still fun. I saw this little boathouse just above the falls and the water was so amazingly still that it was like a mirror underneath it - I had to try and capture it. I really struggle with perspective and so I am trying to work on it whenever I get a chance. The boathouse isn't terrible, but I still have alot of work to do. It was a beautiful and peaceful moment. I could have stayed all day.

(all sketches in the large Moleskine sketchbook)
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Monday, July 03, 2006

D - Bedhead and All

We went camping over the weekend, to the Big South Fork River. We had a wonderful time in the woods, in spite of the ticks, and the fact that the fish weren't biting (that actually didn't bother me in the slightest). On Saturday, before we headed back to K-ville, we took a ride on the Big South Fork Scenic Railway. Everything was going fine and dandy, until we headed back up the canyon and the engine started overheating. We had to hang out in one of the mining ghost towns for a little over an hour while we waited on another engine to come and get us. So - there we sat, hot, sweaty - J took a snooze on me, so Dad and D got off the train and walked around a bit. In the end, the big engine that couldn't was replaced by the big engine that could and we made it back to the train depot. I snapped a picture of D relaxing in his seat, hair wild and mussed from the sleeping bag. I took one of J, too, but he was asleep and the view was straight up his nostrils, so I'll spare you all that one. I worked on this today while I should have been doing laundry. Sorry honey...

16x20, water soluble graphite on multi-media art board
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