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Archive for the ‘New Year!’ Category

An inventory of what I have done in my studio over the last year has proved a bit surprising—or maybe not!  For 8 months out of the 12, I have been gimped with ortho issues. A shoulder replacement in late 2017 had only just begun to heal when a hip kicked in saying, “Hey, it’s not fair. I want some of this attention.”

Two major hip surgeries later (the 1st, a total hip replacement and the 2nd, to repair a severely fractured femur with screws, metal hooks, and wires that make me think of civil engineered bridge construction) I am still hobbling and spending much of the time off my feet.

For several weeks it was 1 leg only, to navigate this “kid in an old body” to and from a cozy living room couch (my 24/7 hangout) to a bathroom (about 5 yards away), my piano right behind my couch, and an extra art studio which my wonderful husband set up for me at the nearby end of our dining room table.

Books, limited piano practice which—although done sitting down—wore me out, my French tutorial apps and a Public Television app on my I-pad (I re-watched the entire DOWNTON ABBEY), serial-shopping on Amazon (FUN/FUN/FUN!), Van Cliburn and other geniuses streaming through my devices into our fine speakers day and night (1 of which speakers was conveniently located beside my ear on my 24/7 couch), my knitting (how many cowls does anyone need?), and ART made up my life for much of 2018.

Who needs to cook, scrub floors, vacuum, and dust anyway?

I normally avoid medical discussions except with those professionals to whom Medicare is paying me to complain, but the above diatribe is to demonstrate how life can be a lot of fun under rather strange circumstances! And how art can thrive, when pain and disability prevail. One’s pain can literally be “drowned” in paint, especially the wet into wet method of working which I prefer.

Anyway, my inventory yielded a surprising 35 paintings that I actually like. (There are always the “duds” which get stashed on a shelf for possible reworking or salvaging parts; or sometimes they are so outrageous that I trash them.)

The keepers range from (3) 20″ x 24″ biggies, a 16″ x 20″, a handful of 11″ x 14″ renderings, and a preponderance of 12″ x 16″ paintings—obviously my favorite size. The paintings are predominately woodland scenes and funky individual trees—with a smattering of flowers, a sailboat in trouble, some landscapes with distant castles, a still life (my least favorite), and a huge, totally abstract on Yupo Paper which I LOVE most of all.

Although my inventory preferences are not exactly written in the proverbial stone, they are indicative—and it was fun reviewing a year of art making, body disability notwithstanding.

The year’s earnings amounted to $700.00 which constituted a donation to, and sale at, our local art group’s annual fundraiser. My dislike of office type stuff is such that I can find no record of which paintings I donated. I believe they were “masterpieces” from former years.

Also, I give paintings to interested friends and family members. As with club donations, my right hand (very happily) does not know what my left hand is doing.

I share many of my favorites via prints glued to notecards, thus bragging about my art while facilitating my passion for writing actual letters as opposed to emails.

Above are the end of 2018 renderings, hardly even dry when I photographed them with my I-phone camera. They tend to make me think of Spring, and they are my HAPPY NEW YEAR to you!

Margaret L. Been, December 31st, 2018

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Wisconsin Winter Dogwood 2

All the years (nearly ten!) that I’ve been making art have been satisfying, but without a doubt 2015 has been the most productive for me so far.  I’ve done more experimenting, begun to work larger (20″ x 24″), and enjoyed the privilege of exhibition opportunities including changing and hanging art four times a year at a restaurant, bank, chiropractic clinic, and hospice, and currently displaying twenty-nine watercolor and gouache paintings at a fun and trendy local restaurant.

I’m in awe of this, because it has simply “happened”.  I never dreamed of being able to display my work, and never pushed in that direction.  When we moved to the Lake Country Northwest of Milwaukee six plus years ago, I joined a group which features all artistic disciplines—mainly to get acquainted with writers and poets and find opportunities for poetry readings.

For one meeting of the group (the Pewaukee Area Arts Council) we were asked to bring visual art for a kind of “show and tell”.  I really stressed out about this.  Should I or should I not even dare to bring a few paintings to share?

For several years I’d studied via books and DVD tutorials.  I’d absorbed some basics.  I’d spent countless hours every week playing with my paints and brushes, because making art had become an overwhelming passion for me—as it continues to be today, ever-green and ever-growing.  I had consistently challenged myself with goals for trying new ideas and a variety of different methods and materials.  I’d embarked on a study of art history and past artists—an ongoing, fascinating research of which I never tire.

But no, I hadn’t considered that I’d ever share my work beyond a circle of family members and friends who would encourage whatever I do simply because they love me.  I was making art because it brought joy to my heart, beyond my ability to express.

With misgivings and absolutely no positive expectations, I did decide to bring three framed paintings to that meeting.  In retrospect, I was something like Hans Christian Andersen’s UGLY DUCKLING.  I saw the swans and they were so beautiful that I was inexplicably drawn to them, even though, in a metaphorical duckling’s motif they might “kill” me.

Well, my fellow artists did not “kill” me; they responded with enthusiasm and encouragement.  Suddenly I realized that even though inexperienced and limited, I might also be some kind of a swan.

While ever mindful that these new and exciting opportunities are Heaven sent—pure grace to a lady of advanced years—I can definitely say that 2015 has been a very good year for art.  In retrospect, all of my years have been good in one way or another—dating back to 1933.

MC 3Meanwhile:  Happy New Year to you from Joe, Margaret, and the sweetest corgi imaginable—Dylan Been.

Margaret L. Been — December 29. 2015

NOTE:  The above painting is titled “Wisconsin Winter Dogwood”.

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Every little trace of wildness thrills me to the core.  Today while walking Dylan (our Pembroke Welsh corgi) I saw rabbit tracks leading from our driveway into the pine trees that border our park.  (It is really everyone’s park, but we call it “ours”.)

I followed the trail until it disappeared into the evergreens and never came out.  Did the rabbits burrow into their warrens through the frozen (zero degree) snow?  Do they live under the pine trees?  Certainly they don’t fly, but the tracks evidently went nowhere. 

If we can only stay up late enough, maybe we’ll see the rabbits out at night.  I’ve always enjoyed fanciful pictures of rabbits dancing by moonlight, on a snowy landscape.  While Dylan would probably love to chase the rabbits, I suddenly have a burning wish to capture them with my watercolors.  I’ll let you know if I succeed!

While we left the bears and wolves behind when we moved 285 miles south, there is plenty of wildness here.  Coyotes abound, sneaking around suburban neighborhoods and farmyards.  Hawks soar over our park.  Some Canada geese winter in open streams near farms, where they can glean the harvested cornfields.

One day we saw a grouse in our front yard.  And our two funny friends, the chipmunks, live in a hole by our garden wall.  As I type, they are probably busy chomping away at the basketball-sized food cache of our bird seed–one basketball per chipmunk.  We won’t see the chipmunks until spring, but it’s delightful to know that they are close by!

Last week I saw the tiny saw-whet owl perched on a tree limb beside our road.  There is always plenty for the nature hungry heart to relish–so long as our eyes and ears are open wide! 

Now I’m going to “adjourn” and try sketching rabbits.

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved 

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Wisconsin begins a new year with brilliant sunshine, so lacking in recent weeks.  The price we pay for this sunshine is a thermometer reading of zero and below.

Never mind.  I always say the deep cold is good for our souls.  And with the deep cold comes a gradual, inexorable increase of daylight minutes.

At our lowest ebb in December, we had 8:59 minutes of daylight here at our home in Southern Wisconsin.  Where we lived up north, there are something like 8 hours and 39 minutes on the shortest days.  That’s a lot of darkness, and it is dreary.  I shudder to imagine what Alaska is like during the downward plunge.

But the downward plunge is worth it all!  What a joy, to welcome a new year of daylight.  Now, on New Year’s Day, we have 9 hours and 3 minutes of daylight–not including the twilight which will stretch out more and more as January progresses into February.

In about 8 weeks, the redwing black birds will begin returning.  We have a spot about 20 miles SE of us, where we will venture to see them before they fly into our neighborhood.  And hear them!  My blood surges just to think of hearing redwing blackbirds.

Meanwhile, the cheer cheer cheer of the cardinal will begin in just a few weeks–perhaps by the end of the month.  The mourning dove will start mourning sometime in mid-February.  It happens every year!

Great is Thy faithfulness, oh Lord!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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