Sunday, August 29, 2010


I copied this from my note page that I published on my Facebook Fan page Catskillpaper.  So if you read it there, STOP. Do not pass GO...

I was challeneged by the Mini Works show that Unison Art Center is having at the Unison Gallery at Water Street Market. I had blown off the assignment, mainly because I had been back and forth to Kentucky for a month, then spent the next three weeks recuperating before I took off for vacation.  So what do I do, but leave the project until a week before it is due.

I had mulled over the theme "Submerged" while I was gone. Having spent a week at the ocean and living by a lagoon, I had certainly seen a lot of things that were "submerged". I knew that my medium had to be acrylic or mixed media rather than oils -- as the oils would not have enough time to dry.

When I returned home, I went into the studio and cleaned out some brushes that I had left in the cleaner, and started picking up around the studio.  I came across a piece I did,and love, but but it is not holding up to the test of time.  After all, it was a very quick demo which I had put together for students.  But the image was of a pueblo style church, collaged onto a monoprint, and half painted over.  Instantly I saw the imersed quality of this icon of Catholicism, and it clicked.

First image that came to mind was Atlantis.  I  googled, queried "submerged civilizations" and got an array of astounding archeological/scientific finds.I knew I had found my series.

The problem was, how do I get all that onto a canvas with limited time and resources? I had a million images in my head, but I don't have the technical skill to execute all of them.

So I did some more research in order to get the feel of the cultures. Alexandria, where the palace of Cleopatra is believed to be buried.  Atlantis, which some believe to actually have been Antartica (land found underneath it). Yonaguni-Jima, Japan, with its mysterious pyramids carved ? in the ocean floor below.  The Bay of Cambay, India, where a 9,500 year old city lies beneath the water.

Much of this challenges science, and beliefs on the origin of man, much like Champoleon did when he was able to break the code of the hieroglyphs.  Fortunately in this age, we won't have to suffer like he did due to the pressure of the Church, and   science is willingly interested in proving/disproving these finds.

Much of this challenged me. I struggled w/the medium. Encaustic would have been ideal to "submerge" the antique images I had found, but I did not feel that the canvas was a stable enough ground, nor did I have the time to build up 20 layers of varnish to get the translucency I wanted.  Instead I poured a thing coat of acrylic resin and hope that it somewhat achieved my goal...

I know I can continue this series, and I think it should be using the same medium.  I am so all-over as an artist, and this forces me to do a bunch of work on one theme. A true test of my art is if they don't sell, that I am ecstatic to put it somewhere in my home, and I will be very happy to find a place to hang them (though I am running out of wall space.)

Goal for the week is to buy more 5 x5 " canvases, and keep it going while I have momentum. The Ashokan Reservoir and Lake Powell will be amoung the pieces that I do. And maybe if I give myself more time, I may even paint some of them.


Friday, August 27, 2010

On the Road: The Road Less Traveled

Part of the beauty of life is the journey, whether traveling around the world, or navigating a relationship.  The direct way is not always the easy way, the best way, or the fastest way....  

We stayed an extra day so that we could spent time with Larry's sister and her husband who were spending the week after us.   It was great--squeaking out another day at the beach and exploring the island. It felt a little sinful...staying a day beyond when we were supposed to. And we enjoyed every bit of it from going to lunch, shopping, swimming in the ocean, and making dinner together. It was a great way to end our vacation.

When it came time to head home, we decided to stay away from I-95 and traveled the interior route, traveling up the middle of South Carolina, the western edge of North Carolina, Virginia,  into Pennsylvania and then landing in NY.  I highly recommend it.  It may have been 50-100 miles longer, but it was still 16 hours---far better than the 21 hours due to DC and I-95 traffic on the way down.

The midway point was Lexington, Virginia, nestled in the Shenendoah Valley, where Route 11 is actually an old well worn Indian path.  The industry since the 1700's was education, and history abounds in the town. It is immaculate, beautiful, and we found a Hampton Inn, which had just openend and was divine.  Dinner was at the Sheraton Livery Inn, where the food was fairly good.  I have to admit, I am not that fond of southern cooking as much of what I have had is fried, but I welcomed the collard greens which were cooked to perfection.

The next day we drove the remaining 8 hours home. The journey was filled with many lovely images and I shot a good hundred photos from the car of the highway and the landscape.  I have some which may make for a good painting series.  I also did 5 watercolor paintings while Larry drove, and kept him entertained with conversation and spinning the tunes. 

It is good to be back home; the cats are once again happy, the garden doing better with the recent rains and cooler temperatures.  After Hilton Head, it's beginning to feel a bit like fall around here with temperatures 20-30 degrees colder than I am used to. But it feels and smells good, and I am back in the studio making art. 

I will leave you with a few highway shots...from the road.

patti o

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On The Road: The Deep South

It is another world here; it is almost surreal.  Spanish moss drips from trees, entire ferns grow along branches of trees, most of which I cannot identify. Everything seems to grow larger than life, from the leaves on the palm trees, to the bugs and the birds.  Lizards scoot away as we walk. Alligators appear and then disappear into the lagoons.  The ocean is huge. The boats are huge.

Anything glass that I have, ranging from my reading glasses, to the lens on my camera, fogs up instantly from the change of humidity and temps going in and out of A/C.  The head index is a 106.

The only thing that appears not to be huge are bathing suits; my underwear has more fabric than most two piece suits I have seen. 

Some of the churches are huge, and there are churches all over the place.

On the highways (not on Hilton Head--they don't allow this) the signs are huge, announcing cigarettes, fireworks, Jesus saves, and exotic girls, all in a quarter mile stretch of highway. 

Grits, gravy, unidentifiable fried foods.

I have been taking photos....when my lens isn't fogged.  I have been riding a bike, which allows me to see all the things you don't see from a speeding car. Today I hope to go into the forest preserve, it my butt isn't too sore from yesterdays 7 mile ride.  There are many bike paths here, and some in the more populated areas are lit at night.

Off to the shower to wash off the salt and whatever little grains of sand are still stuck in some body crevace.
Larry is running round sweeping up grains of sand that have worked their way inside despite our attempt to wash them out in the pool, outside showers etc.  I tell him it is a battle he just can't win.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

On the Road or FML

On one of those silly Facebook apps, I did a survey on "Which writer am I?"  The answer was Jack Kerouac. I have not read the book On the Road, , but now feel obligated to do so.  I suspect we have a lot in common, though much of it I will never admit to publicly, until I am retired.  Then, and only then, will you get the unedited version of my life.

The past week has been stressful getting ready for our road trip to Hilton Head, SC, about 900 miles from my house.   Two years ago we drove to Kentucky to see Megan and baby Randy after he was born, and I swore I would not spend that much time in a car again.  But we were offered a bungalow on a lagoon on an island, so how could I turn it down?

A few days before we left, as I was packing and doing the 10,000 things that had to be done,I exploded  to a D cup, and could not move without pain. I started having cramps. Headaches. And cranky? I bulldogged my way through the day, feeling lucky that no one got hurt.  Maybe it was a false alarm.  I have had them before, in fact so badly that I marched into my doctors office demanding a pregnancy test, to the laughter of the staff.  My doc told me that she was going to start a new religion and worship me if I was pregnant.

The morning we left I got my period.  "Fuck My Life", I muttered to myself. Seven months without it, and I thought that finally menopause was well under way.  Five more months and I was going to have my celebratory Crone party.

Needless to say, Larry is lucky to have survived the drive.  The Garmin took the brunt of my anger when I punched it off its perch in a moment of frustration over not finding the hotel we were looking for.  "Fucking piece of shit" I muttered.  I had come off of spending four hours outside of Washington DC (at 2:30, not rush hour) going 20 miles.  I was in Richmond Virginia, and needed to sleep. I felt sick and had been in the car for 12 hours.  My back was not happy, and neither was my front for that matter.

The hotel, a Quality Inn, cost far more than it was worth. Stains on the wall, a sink that did not work. It smelled.  I sent Larry went to the lobby he told them that his wife wanted a working sink.  The maintenance guy replied "oh, I can fix it, but it is probably going to take me a half hour or so".  Larry replied, "Oh, I don't think that is a good idea.  She might kill someone and it will probably be me, although it could be you too".  The man's mouth made a big O and his eyes got huge.  The clerk offered us another room

At 10 PM I was moving luggage muttering "fuck my life" again.  It would serve them right if I bleed all over the rug, I thought to myself.

The room had two double beds instead of queens.  Looking at the smaller bed, I decided that it was not safe for Larry to share one with me.  I made him sleep in one, and I in the other.  I don't think in the 16 years of our relationship that we have ever done that.  I figured if is was to last another 16 years, it was a good idea.

Then someone moved in the room above us, with a troupe of what I believe to be monkeys which jumped on the bed and on the floor for an hour.  FML was my mantra again.  

We both tossed and turned all night and napped for 7 hours before 6 am came and we had to do another day of driving.  When we got to the lobby, the same clerk was there and said: "Mrs. G, your husband is so funny".  I shot a glance at him, and replied: "he'd better be funny if he is going to survive another 8 hours in the car".  

We laughed at it, and over that 8 hours I experienced a slight ebb in my urge to kill, probably due to the pain pills I took for my cramps.

We have arrived here in Hilton Head, the weather forecast shows that it is going to rain the entire time.  At 10:30 in the morning I am hearing the rumble of thunder, which does not bode well for the day. However, Savannah is only 45 minutes away, I am sure there are places we can go.  I have a stack of movies, a few books, my watercolors, my computer, a few bottles of wine and a bottle of Pinnacle.   Besides, I am not ready to put on a bathing suit yet, and hope that the cramps leave soon.

Off to the Weatherunderground, where I will track the incoming storms, and hope I am not on the radar.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

New Walks

Since we have already established my reputation as a high stim person, it will come as no shock to you that when I walk I seek out a different route every day.  I  wake up and immediately obsess about how far I want to drive to get to this walk, and what terrain I am in the mood to deal with.  If I am lucky, I have someone to go with me.  I find walking with a friend makes the miles go easier and I go further if I have company

Last weekend was Poet's walk, and this weekend I took a good 2-3 mile walk along Hurley Mountain Road which runs by acres of cornfields.  It is a lovely walk with a combo of sun and shade, and you pass sweet farms, bee hives and acres of corn surrounded by purple loosestrife.  The road is not very wide, and what I did not take into account was the fact that it is harvest time and there were tons of tractors and tractor trailers hauling the corn harvest out of the fields.   

Sunday morning was a stroll along the Rondout Creek.  The city of Kingston put in a wonderful walkway that starts at Rositas and ends up on Abeel street. Round trip is about a mile.  I love that I am in a totally different world down on the creek, the stone walkway lined with boats of all shapes and sizes, as well as lethargic ducks who lay on the docks, nonplussed by the passing humans.

When you walk you get to see things that you would never see riding in a car;  the charisma of old abandoned buildings from a hundred years past,  the interaction of a seagull with a group of ducks.I have laughed at wild turkeys running through a field, and waved to the migrant workers in the corn fields.  I feel sun and shade, cool and burning heat.  I smell the earth, the creek and the blacktop.All senses engage, and some of these journeys become my paintings where I portray that moment in time or in my life,  and hope that it stirs a memory in the heart for someone as well as for me.

And - there are the days that I do yoga, go into my body and my heart for a different experience.
Off to paint.


Friday, August 06, 2010

New WIP (work in progress)

The past two days I have managed to get some paint time in. The studio is pretty clean, table space available, and canvases begging to be reworked or started.  It's time that I kick into high gear.  I see the light changing, fading, and hear September calling.  I paint in desperation to hold onto the freedom of my summer, and during the time I stand in front of my canvases, I meditate on a plan to get through another year of teaching while keeping stress low and the work load manageable.  How do I balance being a full time teacher AND a full time artist?  How do I shift my thought from TEACHING TAKES AWAY MY ENERGY TO PAINT, into somehow getting energized from my teaching and bringing it home to the canvas? 

Photos are of two unfinished paintings; one is of  three little cabins that were hunkered down in the steamy mist of a leftover storm,  looking like they had very long faces, and the other an evening trip over the Hudson, location unknown as I don't remember where it is at the moment.  I am trying to capture the essence of color/light/mood and personal narrative in them.  It is a challenge, but the discovery is indescribable/euphoric/transformative.  Each needs some tweaking, then they go up on the wall and the next few get started.  Stay tuned....

And if interested in a painting, drop me an email. If you are local, stop by and see them. If you have a gallery space, offer me a show.  Or, if a vintner, a bottle or two is always welcomed, lol.

Monday, August 02, 2010

What's YOUR favorite Idiom?

A few cards that I made today in the studio gave me a chuckle - one being something my mother used to say in the old days "S'occuper de ses oignons" which translates to "take care of your own onions", or in other words, MYOB, ANOTHER idiom I heard many times in my life (mind  your own business).  Somewhere along the line it became "mind  your own onions" in her English translation, but it still meant the same.

The phrase on the other card was from a book on Victorian dance/party etiquette about how UNCOOL it is to be a wallflower at someone's party.  But I think it could become an idiom for life---"only those who dance should accept invitations to the ball." In other words, in the idiom that Ex #1 used: "shit or get off the pot". 

Of course, there is the idiom I used one day to one of the farmers/vendors at the Saturday market, and that was when he said that he had heard about people burying pennies with their tomatoes to prevent the blight. I replied: "oh I will do it for shits and giggles".  He almost fell off his box when he heard that as it was something said in his family, and he had never heard anyone say it until I did.  (I think that also came from Ex #1's family who are die hard New Englanders)

And there was my mother yelling at us in Lithuanian something that sounded like "moo-shee gow-sa"
which meant we were going to get a beating. 

Post one of your idioms here.  I'd love to hear from my readers!!!!

Patti O Block

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Poets Walk

Funny how things come to us in the most random of places and situations.  

My friend Susan and I made a last minute plan to hike Poet's Walk in the Rhinebeck area, just a few miles from where The Clinton Affair was held.  I had some trepidation as I did not know whether it would be a walk that tourists, guests, etc. would be flocking to, but as it turned out, there was only one other hiker when we got there.

It was a beautiful morning to drive with the top down over the Hudson River.  It was early and not much traffic on the road.   On the way there we laughed at the congratulatory signs set up in the fruit stand to the newlyweds,  and watched turkeys strutting though fields of Queen Anne's Lace. Once there we did a 2 mile loop to the river and back, with temps in the 70's. 

As we were hiking and talking through the woods and fields,  I came to the realization that I am a high stimulation person, and I was gleefully rejoicing in the beauty, excitement of this very ad-lib adventure I was having.   I have always known I was a Type A, but the revelation was that I was finally at peace with who I am and how I came to be.  And honey, at this point in my life, that is a fine place to be.

In "my other life", when I allowed life to run me, instead of me running my life, I was addicted to stimulation in a negative way - insanity, craziness, and even negativity were my muses.  After a series of what I call "slaps in the face",  I knew what I was doing wasn't working nor was it healthy for me OR for those I loved in my life.  Driven by the adage: "once shame on you, twice shame on me",  I could no longer play the role of enabler, victim, co-alcoholic etc.  I had an obligation to myself and those whom I loved in my life, to change my patterns of living, thinking, and feeling.

It has been a long process.

It cost one relationship, though I do believe that every relationship we have serves a purpose in our lives.  It could not be without the ending of a relationship that I could have been gifted with another.

It's been hard work.

I have had to learn about sublimation and gifting myself with down time and fun. And now, though I am still type A and  high stim,  I surround myself with things that are healthy. Adventure, creativity, friends, joy, fun. Even when things DO get crazy and intense, which they do in my life, I try and take them at face value, deal with them, and move on.

Do I sometimes lose my mind, run in circles, spin my wheels, and freak? Sure do, but the fits only last a little while, if at all, before I shake them off and find a way back to peace.

As an aside, or maybe it should not be such an aside, a hawk flew into the tree in front of where we were hiking. It perched long enough for me to take of photo of it before it flew off.  I looked up the symbolism of hawk --- I felt it was a sign. From a website on Power Animals:

HAWK -  is the messenger.  IT is also about visionary power and guardianship, the hawk is very protective of the young in its nest.  It teaches us about providing for family and self.   Hawk teaches us to be observant and to pay attention to what we may overlook. This could mean a talent we don't use, a blessing for which we haven't expressed gratitude, or a message from Spirit.  The hawk has keen eyesight, it is about opening our eyes and seeing that which is there to guide us.

At the end of the hike we went into Red Hook for breakfast at Terry's Country Bakery.  As for the rest of the day, I felt deeply at peace, and grateful for all that I have.

Patti O