What Is Art Anyway

When you walk about down town or anywhere for that matter, you can see art portrayed on the street or in the windows. Arrangement of things offered for sale is art in a way. The design of the objects that you see are created with art principles in mind. Every thing that is designed from a tall building to a small kitchen gadget is art. You are surrounded by it if you will stop to notice.

Then you can see the natural part of the scene, the trees, plants, the animals that might make an appearance, the lowly mosquito, all have evolved following design principles. It’s true. That’s why nature is so beautiful even in it’s most dangerous stages.

I like to think that if one needed to have a god, a creator, for me that would be physics. The laws of physics create all shapes, sizes, ways of moving and interacting from the smallest living form to the largest universe. And they are amazing.

So in my universe of my art room I sit and wander through many sheets of calendar or magazine pictures, sorting by color and shape, waiting for a desire to create my own picture. What do I want today at this moment. What moves me as I sit and browse through scraps I have saved for this purpose. Often I have no plan, it seems to develop as I select images I want to work with. Then I follow my brains suggestions placing things here or there, behind or in front, turned sideways or not, following some interior plan. I cut and paste until I feel that it’s done. A picture which may or may not make any sense. In my mind I am following the muse, whatever that is.

When it feels finished I ask myself what words come to mind and they arise in my consciousness. I write them down, finagling them into the Haiku format of 5, 7 , 5 syllables. And there it is, the artwork I have created in the early morning hours. I use my phone to picture it and publish it on Facebook for my friends to see.

And to be honest, I don’t like all the pictures that I do. There are some which I admire and wonder how I did them, but then, there are others which cause me to shake my head. You see, I do not judge my work; I can’t. I do enjoy the process.

In Recovery

A week later after my surgery I ventured out for my first walk to the park. I go through a neighborhood to give me more time in the walk, about twenty-five minutes total. I usually sit on a park bench to check my phone and to take a breather. In the morning there a few people about, a couple parents and kids at the playground, a couple dogs and walkers in the gated dog compound, and a runner or two. I appreciate sitting in the quiet expanse of lawn sometimes hearing a crow squawk. Then it’s five minutes to home.

I’m supposed to walk every day, part of the recovery, and part of any good exercise program. I need to be in some sun, also, to help with the sleeping routine. But these days we’ve had overcast until noon. So no early morning sun to order one’s sleep cycle.

Notice the walking pole I use now since I fell a month ago. Supposedly it is to keep one from falling again. I do feel shaky when I leave the house and wonder if I will fall. I feel unsteady, more uncertain than I was. That adds to the uneasiness of walking. My rhythm with the pole is part of the success of using it. And I’m doing quite well once I get started.

The hospital visit was twelve hours long. The nurses helped me feel comfortable. They were always smiling and asking what I needed. They bustled here and there through out the whole OR spreading cheer every where. I felt very safe and cared for.

I remember closing my eyes one moment and then soon afterwards, opening them. It took several tries to keep them open. Then I was glad to lie there and watch the nurses going this way and that. One sat at the computer that contained my life with Kaiser, imputing the latest information spewing out of the records of blood pressure, oxygen levels, heart beat, etc. My pressure kept dropping and them recovering.

The last nurse was a man who loved his job. He had been in industry and other managerial positions before he decided to do nursing. And he is so glad he made the choice. He always checked with me on how I was doing.

He brought me the hospital’s idea of a lunch. I didn’t eat the chicken filled rolled, just opened it up and scraped the chicken mixed with mayonnaise off with the plastic fork and ate that. There was a hunk of lettuce and two slices of cucumber which I failed to notice before. I guess they were to top the chicken. Then to end the meal I took two bites of the awful jello.

He put me in a wheel chair and down the four floors we went in the elevator and out the door to the waiting car of my driver. I told Elaine that I had a divine time and she laughed. She figured it was the anesthesia speaking. Maybe. But I still feel that way. It was a fine time.

My First Fair Visit

Luckily I received an invitation by the booth manager from Redwood Writers to join them selling my books at the Sonoma County Fair. I signed up for Wednesday, the first day of the fair. Later the manager, Jeanne, reported that there weren’t enough sales people for Wednesday to even set up, so she put me on Saturday.

I spent six hours, masked, and calling out to customers as they passed by. Jeanne had given us instruction how to get people to stop and look. One calls out to them, waving the book, and it does work. I sold three of Hug a Slug and one of Family of Geese. I felt successful! One would have made me feel successful.

Learning how to sell, the main activity of authors, is what I’m filling my time with. . Since we couldn’t get on Amazon via the publisher, Luluxpress, my editor, Stacey Demmit, found out how to unload my books onto the Kindle Direct Publishing site. So I put up “Hug a Slug, Scoot a Newt, Making Friends with Nature.” Then, surprise to me, Amazon had listed all my Rufus books. I can put them up with no cost to me. Fantastic.

You can read them online for nothing. You can see three now and most will be up by the end of the week. HOORAY!!! Check it out. Write the title of the book or my name. Books at this printing are “Hug a Slug,” “Rufus and the Games,” Rufus and the Honker Chorus.”

My Luncheon Project

Is life returning to the what it was 17 months ago? The calendar is busier lately and I’ve included entertaining more. The truth is, as it was before Covid, I didn’t entertain very often, maybe once in three months as my dinner group met monthly at different houses. After watching the days and months go by as I sat at home entertaining myself with the piano, ukulele, paints, colored pencils, colored pens, television and books, I became to cherish the interaction with others, human beings whose mouths talked and smiled. I realized how necessary it is to have this interaction.

During Covid I cleaned out several drawers and closets and offered the items I chose to give away on Facebook. People who indicated they were interested I invited for an outside visit in my patio. I moved the chairs from my back patio to the front and we could have a conversation masked and six feet apart. I discovered how elated I felt each time.

Now we are in a different phase. I and my friends are vaccinated and can have live visits. To add to my usual habits I realized I need only to call and invite. So I began my Luncheon Project. Each week I invite a friend or two for lunch. I enjoy preparing and cooking interested dishes for my guests. And what fun it is to be with them sharing our lives a little.

So life for me is different and much more rewarding. Covid is still teaching me lessons which I wouldn’t have learned without it. Though when I look back there is nothing to see; I have learned some important lessons and what I need for a fulfilling life.

Wondering Why I’m Here

Here it is 14 days into June already. My 84th birthday on May 3 has passed by as fast as my life goes these days. A month and a half passes by before I notice and then I think of things to say. Like, “What is an 84 year old woman doing in trying to create a web site?” Well, I didn’t create this one. I hired someone.

But there is more to a website that setting up the first components. Adding new pictures, maybe adding more pages, trying to get it noticed so people can see it, all of this causes me to throw up my hands in recognizing my lack of experience. I just read over five blog pages which didn’t get published. I don’t know why? Apparently I failed to push the right button.

Then there are the problems which arise when I think about how to sell my book. It’s the tenth book that I have written. The others I failed to sell. Of course I can still work on that. I am learning about the help that is out there. Since I failed with the first books I need to become successful in this latest venture. I need to devote my time to it instead of getting interested in building another book; I have several waiting to be born.

So in wondering why I am here I need to dig in to this unreal world of promotion, learn the maneuvers and push through even though I feel totally unexperienced. I guess my strongest feature is the willingness to try new things. Here it is, my becoming a sales person, at 84.

The Book is Ready

Hug a Slug, Scoot a Newt, Making Friends with Nature, is ready to buy. The story details a hike in a preserve for a group of four children and their docent. They hike through four habitats: the oak woodlands, the evergreen forest, the riparian and the chaparral habitats looking at the creatures who live in them. All the pictures are collages using fabric which gives it an earthy feel. Included is a map of the hike and a glossary of terms that one confronts in the story.

This is the type of book one might find in a gift shop at a state park. Hopefully we can find the right place for it. I’d love to see it in the libraries and also in elementary schools. That is my job now, to sell it.

If you are interested let me know.

Leaves of Color

Every now and then a piece of work catches the attention of my viewers and this one has. On Facebook nineteen viewers registered their likes and eleven of these wrote comments. For me that is a lot. I must add that I, too, like this one.

I realize I should know the name of the plant. It’s a huge, actively growing, hedge like bush in my front patio. Rarely are blooms allowed to develop as I prune the bush back to keep it contained. I noticed two blooms hidden under the 2 feet new growth which is always red.

So I grabbed my phone and caught a picture. What became fascinating as I reproduced it in acrylics were the many colors of the leaves. An of course all the leaves are green, in reality except those shooting high above the bush; the new growth is red. The blue color is the reflection of the sky and a challenge to make it appear. The leaves are so shiny they reflect the night lights with little sparkles and glints of light.

Samples of My Art

One of my many collages that I work on in the early morning.
I search my collection of magazines images that I like and have cut out. I may follow a color scheme or look for interesting shapes.
It seems in this one I searched for lines as well as shapes and colors.
Kleenex boxes are a good source for the collages I make.

My daily habit in the wee hours of the morning is to select my materials and then set to arranging them in some semblance of an eye catching picture. I have many tablets full of these collages. I’ll draw the outer lines (limits) and then arrange the various selected pieces in some kind of order that suits my eye. Then I use a common glue stick to adhere them to the background in my tablet. I may add a sparkle or two with the metallic ink I have. After studying the collage for a moment I write a Haiku to accompany it. I photograph it with my phone and immediately post it on Facebook with the Haiku.

Processing a Book

What a process getting a book ready to publish! My new children’s book, “Hug a Slug, Scoot a Newt, Making Friends with Nature” has about 8 reincarnations by now. My editor and I asked various people to read and make comments (suggestions or questions) about it. Then we make the necessary corrections or changes.

My daughter noticed that the docent figure didn’t change her stance throughout the story. And, yes, I had made the children have different poses and just put the thought aside of changing the docent. Originally each figure had only one stance. Now I’m changing the docent.

Which means changing seven pictures and photographing them again.

Also, several readers mentioned the need for a glossary. So I need to create that. I will used a cloth background to type on. I have to figure how the computer can do that. I photographed two sections of a possible background cloth. I am now figuring out how to make a sheet of paper out of it so I can type on it.

Below are pictures of the characters:

By making a new set of children I had a chance to have several skin colors.

Reuniting with Friends

What a wonderful week I have had. Three occasions of meeting people face to face and maskless. Monday I rode the bus and walked through downtown Santa Rosa to the Glacer Center to meet my friends of the Older and Bolder Ladies, women who have reached their 80th year. We realized that when we were all vaccinated we could meet in person instead of zooming twice a month. What a joyful experience to see people in the flesh after a whole year of isolation.

Then a friend of mine, another member of the percussion section of the New Horizon Band, stopped by for a conversation, in my apartment, maskless. We covered most of the year talking about our experiences during the shutdown, bringing ourselves up to date and considering how the group could reunite and play together again.

And because I was ready and my dear friends were finished with their vaccinations I arranged a dinner party. I fixed a Spanish flavored rice and chicken dish containing flavorful and spicy Jalapeno peppers. Friends brought the a green salad with shrimp, an apple pie with a crumb topping and a sauvignon blanc to accompany the rice. After dinner we played Up Words, a type of scrabble game. We were back. Back to sharing our stories, our joys and sorrows, our experiences as we go through life.

I shared my pictures made of fabric that I made to illustrate a story about a docent led hike through the Bouverie Preserve at Glen Ellen. Here is a sample. It will be a print book and ready for publication this month.

Entering Evergreen Forest
Acorn Woodpeckers
Water Critters