February 29, 2008

Fun & games

The party I went to Saturday night was all girls. Well, except for the boy dog of the house, a beautiful big (165 pound) Newfoundland Sheepdog. Usually I don’t find this kind of party much fun. Often there seems to be something missing. But this was a really enjoyable evening. Maybe it was because we were all in the arts and had that to bind us. And most of the artists I know do like to play.

Lila had a good time too. I always wanted a dog I could take everywhere with me. She’s turned into that kind of pet. And after such a difficult first two years, no can be more delighted than me. She played some with her Newfie friend and she worked her way around house. The worst thing she did Saturday was snitch a couple of pieces of pizza off the counter. Naughty but nice.

Or maybe I just have indulgent friends, friends who also enjoy my spirited pup. I certainly won’t complain about that!

I used Lila as an example, metaphor for making art during midterm critiques on Wednesday. We did a group session, everyone taking turns putting up their homework assignments and about six drawings from class. One student said disparagingly that her work was a struggle; drawing was a struggle. So I couldn’t help but tell them the story of Lila: how it has been a struggle. I’ve had four dogs (she’s the fourth) and none of them have been so difficult. But with persistence and determination, the struggle has relaxed and we have a strong bond.

My artwork seems to come in two main categories: the ones that paint themselves, just flow from the ether and those that are a struggle, take excessive revisions. When those difficult ones finally come together, they have a special charge, something that comes out of the resolution of struggle. So I told the students not to be afraid of the process of their work.

Posted by leya at 07:40 PM

February 27, 2008

Such as it is

Well, my image of what I thought to be a lovely city with its beautiful park has been shaken. Yesterday Lila and I went to Point Pleasant Park with a friend and her dog. I parked my car in the lower parking lot because we can walk directly into the park from there without having to use leads. The higher ups have been enforcing leash laws on the main paths and when Lila is determined to play with a friend, she isn’t fun on the lead. The pups had a lovely romp and although it was a bit chilly, the paths were clean. No ice!

When we returned to my car, I saw a lot of shattered glass on the ground. My first thought was “I don’t remember that being there when we came” and “why doesn’t the park crew clean this up?” It took a minute for me to realize it was my car window in little pieces on the ground. It was my car that had been broken into and my friend’s bag stolen from it. I latter discovered the thief had also taken my cloth garbage bag, probably thinking it was also a purse. At least my car was otherwise okay.

A man and his dog were returning to his car, parked beside mine, just as we arrived. My cell phone was down and he very kindly called the police to help sort out how to make a report. Generally speaking, people are good. I just had an unlucky blip in my day. Luckily his car hadn't been touched.

I’ve recovered some equilibrium today but my window won’t be fixed until tomorrow. It has to come from Montreal. Not too many Honda Elements in this neck of the woods. Or maybe the other Element owners have been luckier in this regard than I.

So perhaps I should park in the upper lot which has, more often, more traffic.

Posted by leya at 07:47 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 25, 2008

Me and my shadow

For a couple of days, Friday and Saturday to be exact, I was being followed. I wore a GPI tracker and wrote down exactly what I did by the minute all day. It was great fun; I felt very important for two days and I’m glad it lasted only two days. I was part of a Saint Mary’s University time management study. They will call me for a final interview soon. The purpose of the study is to help in basic urban planning.

It happened to be a busy couple of days. I did the usual (painting, walk the dog, clean up, eat, sleep) as well as my Tai Chi class, the park, some theatre, a party. But what became clear to me was how I don’t function in a linear manner. It was hard to write down what I did in an afternoon at home. I’d start one thing, start another, go back to the first, start a third, go back to the first (or second) and so on. It wasn’t multitasking because I was doing only one thing at a time. But I certainly didn’t finish one thing before starting another.

I paint that way as well. Work on many pieces simultaneously—have several paintings going at once. Part of it is the drying time but I don’t think I would work well any other way. My focus is very much where I am, what painting I’m working on, or what “thing” I am doing around the house, yet I seem to need the opportunity to move around from one thing to another. Sometimes I think it would be a good idea to stay with one thing to the end but that doesn’t happen very often. And this does work. For me.

Posted by leya at 07:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 19, 2008


Some friends came over to skate on the lake Sunday. The one concession I've made to age has been to give up skating. It was hard watching them way out on the lake. Such an enormous feeling of freedom, I can only imagine.



The day before was sunny and I was walking out there with a friend and our dogs. Then on Monday the rain was so heavy I could see it bouncing off the lake. Today was warm and bright. And almost all the ice has melted. Finally.

Posted by leya at 08:58 PM | TrackBack

February 14, 2008

Hearts and flower and then some

Without a doubt this has been a very special Valentine’s Day. I came home yesterday to find a beautiful package decorated with hearts and flowers hanging from the handle of my front door. Not seeing any car tracks in the fresh, heavy snow, I knew it had to be from a neighbor. So when I opened the package, I found a note from guess who!?! None other than Lila, my puppy! She said, in the note “If I could talk, I wold say thanks for all your love and tenacity that has made me such a wonderful dog.” And Lila gave me a scarf for my neck to keep me warm on our winter walks. So sweet!

My neighbors have watched me work (struggle) with Lila, getting her to be more sociable, easier, gentler. She’s now an (almost) model dog, especially when you’ve known what a difficult little puppy she was. Almost everyone around here has a dog or two. So I’ve met my neighbors, with Lila’s help, on the road. And we’ve shared dog stories while our dogs sniff and play together.

I feel so lucky to live here, to have chosen this neighborhood. I haven’t enjoyed Valentine’s Day much in recent years. It usually just makes me feel more alone. But this is a very full day and I am reminded constantly of how rich my life is. A couple of my neighbors with ATVs enjoy plowing my (long) driveway, sometimes twice a day when necessary. They’ve taken on the driveways around here like a couple of kids with fancy toys. It’s delightful to watch them running the snow off their paths. Another neighbor helps shovel my stairs (when I haven’t gotten to it first).

So it’s quite a nice day for hearts and flower lovers.

Posted by leya at 02:35 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 11, 2008

Snow again

I will probably miss the snow when winter ends; it is so very beautiful. Lila and I enjoy our walks on the lake. So we are storing up memories.




Posted by leya at 02:54 PM | TrackBack

February 06, 2008

About Charles

I went to see some short, five-minute films Sunday night. They were done with scholarships from and guidance of the Centre for Art Tapes. Eight films by budding filmmakers. All the films were good, showed talent and intelligence. Yet not much can be done by inexperienced filmmakers in five minutes, it seems. Seven of them definitely needed more work or more time, more than five minutes or more experience. But one was so good, I’d like to see it again. About a young man in his early twenties (with a wife and two children) who lives off the land, completely. He (and the film) are fresh, saucy, lively, entertaining and able to completely penetrate cultural mores.

Charles, the young farmer, talks about his life with humor and gentleness. He makes a good case for living off the land. With very little financial resources, it is, indeed, a full time job for him and his family. Milking cows, gardening, preserving, making his tools by hand, building his house with found materials. I could do it—for a few weeks. But I wouldn’t want to give up the painting part of my life. So I guess that’s not my thing right now.

Posted by leya at 07:49 PM | TrackBack

February 04, 2008

Painting and more painting

Some of the best ideas come when I’m not even thinking about anything. When least expected. I was lying in the tub this morning and suddenly I knew what I wanted to do next with my paintings. I’ve been working on a piece made up of twenty-five twenty inch squares. It’s laid out on the floor of my studio, taking up a lot of space. (I did take Cheryl McClure's suggestion and photographed this with my digital camera to see how it is working. It helped. Definitely. I could see from the photo shot more clearly what was happening than when I looked at the painting itself. It’s interesting how that works. And it no longer, after this morning, looks like what you see below.) But it IS coming together, finally, and I may be able to send it out soon. (There is a possible potential client for it, maybe, I hope!) Assuming it will dry in time.

Then there is a nine-squares piece on the wall, but I’m not sure about that. And one of four squares, each thirty inch square, but I definitely am not sure about that one. So I’m eager to start something else, something big. Something satisfying, I assume. I recently put a three-panel piece up in my living room over the piano. The side panels are five feet by two feet and the middle panel is five feet by three feet. So it ends up being five by seven feet. Big. Once I put it up, I realized it still needed more work so I’ve been working on it slowly right where it is. It’s too big to move back downstairs to my studio. (And it also doesn't look like what you see below.)

But what I decided (this morning in the tub) to do (with my paintings) was to take two panels, one five by two and one five by three, to make a five by five foot piece. So I started two that size this morning. It’s exciting to be at this stage again, starting something new, a new size, new format, new paintings.




Posted by leya at 04:19 PM | TrackBack