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Posts Tagged ‘Memories’

Here is a bold venture:  a painting which turned out to be too large for the ready-made frames at our local craft stores.  I had grabbed an entire sheet of Yupo® and had a blast, painting and thinking I would crop the finished work to fit a 24″ x 20″ frame which I had on hand.  But I was pleased with the entire piece, and couldn’t figure out where, if any, I wanted to sacrifice part of it.

A brainy idea:  custom framing.  This is pricey indeed, and I will not do it very often.  But the result is satisfying.  Below you can see The Big One on a living room wall:

Wall 2

AW.JPG

Many layers of gouache were piled onto this painting, over washes of watercolor.  Actually called “Waterfall”, this rendering evokes memories of a real waterfall we had on our 14 plus acres up north, where we lived full time for eight years.

Our land bordered on two roads, one up and one down a hill.  Our home was on the downhill road, next to a lake.  In the spring, snow and ice melted from the above road and roared downhill to our back yard, over boulders and brush.  The sound was stirring, and so loud that it resonated through closed windows.  In the summer, the waterfall morphed into a trickling downhill creek—always refreshing to sit beside on one of the big boulders.

How beautiful to have mellow memories, and then to paint them (and have them framed)!

Margaret L. Been — April, 2017

NOTE:  Obviously I couldn’t scan this painting on my home scanner, so I photographed it with my cell phone.  Because the piece was framed with non-glare glass I could do that.  But I failed to get the entire bit into the top photo.  In the shot of the painting on the wall with its surrounding environment, you get a better idea of how the waterfall fans out at its base.

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winter-sunrise-4-1

Like many Wisconsin children in the 1930s and 40s, I loved winter.  We would race home from school, scarf down some hot cocoa and cookies, put on a few extra layers, and go outside to build snow forts or bombard each other with snowballs.  In the depths of winter, it would be almost dark by the time we quit and went inside to hang our wet wool snowsuits on a steam radiator to dry.  (Oh, the aroma of wet wool heating up!)

I recall several occasions where I realized I was getting sick and could feel a fever rising in my body.  Thinking the outdoor cold would squelch the flu bug (or whatever),  I’d avoid mentioning how I felt to my very solicitous mother, and stay outside as long as I could stand my hot cheeks and shivering self before going indoors and allowing myself to be put to bed with hot lemonade and honey.

(“Sick” was no joke in pre-penicillin days when front doors of homes frequently sprouted warning signs such as:  Scarlet Fever, Diptheria, Measles, etc.  Children were put to bed when they had a fever, no matter what!)

What in the world does all this nostalgia have to do with THE MESSY PALETTE?  Simply this:  Now I am 83 years old and I no longer LOVE winter!  I have become a WUSS!  Granted, snow is beautiful.  In fact, I actually go out and tramp around in the first couple of snowfalls.  But in recent years winter has gotten old very fast.  By March, when I’ve wanted to peel off layers of clothing and renew my store of solar energy, I have found the snowy cold weather to be absolutely annoying.

Now, suddenly, I am tired of being such a WUSS!  I have some really fun and funky leggings and tights, and a drawer full of lovely, colorful sweaters.  I can dress like a clown.  And I’m psyching myself up for winter with my paints.  Case in point is the above sample titled “Winter Sunrise.” 

Determined to put a positive spin on the days ahead, I have created a Three Pronged Plan:  1) putting on another sweater when the indoor temperature drops to 70 or 68 degrees, rather than bumping the thermostat to 75;  2) staying outdoors longer each time I need to take my beloved corgi out to do his jobs; and 3) the aforementioned—celebrating winter with my paints.

Sometimes old geezers* go into a second childhood mode.  Since our corgi Dylan LOVES to roll in the snow, maybe I’ll start rolling with him.  🙂

Margaret L. Been – 10/1/16 

*Yes, I know.  The expression “old geezers” is certainly not politically correct.  Yikes!  Who cares?  Anyway, I can use the label because I am one!  And proud of it!

art-statement-photo

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Carmela's Lilacs again again again

What is more enjoyable than coffee or tea and mellow conversation shared with a friend, in any kind of weather?  My friend, Carmela, came for a morning visit last week.  It was warm and sunny, but early enough in the day to sit outdoors yet still savor hot, strong coffee.  Later, we would have switched to iced tea.

Carmela brought an armful of lilacs, white and shades of lavender, from her yard.  I don’t think she realized that lilacs are a huge passion of mine.  She simply and instinctively brought the perfect gift—beautiful, fragrant, and in season.

Later in the day I began to paint the lilacs, which by then were comfortably at home in a vase of cool water.  Since I normally let the paint do a lot of the talking, somehow an illusion of a great blue heron flew into the piece.  Can you see the heron?  His presence suggests that there is water nearby, as the heron lives on fish.

We do have plenty of water here in Lake Country, and great blue herons fly over our roof constantly en route between our myriad of lakes.  But maybe the above painting, “Carmela’s Lilacs”, is a flashback to our home up north where we lived for eight years, beside a bay with plenty of great blue herons in our neighborhood—and huge, ancient common lilac bushes pressed against the front deck of our home.

Margaret L. Been — May 26, 2016

 

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Jamie and Leo's Day

For most of my life, I have recorded moments—joyous and otherwise–in words.  In the process of experiencing life, my main thought was always, “I have got to write this!”

Now my entire being has undergone a paradigm shift.  I’m still the same person, and I experience life as deeply (if not more so) as before, but my main response to the moment has become, “I have got to paint this!”

The above selection is titled “Jamie and Leonardo’s Day”.  Our granddaughter, Jamie, married her Mexican sweetheart, Leonardo, on September 28th, 2013.  The autumn day was quintessentially perfect with a turquoise sky and soft breezes soughing in ancient trees above our heads as we visited outside the Delafield, Wisconsin, St. John’s Northwest Military Academy replica of a Norman cathedral— while waiting for the wedding ceremony to begin.

As we waited and chatted with family members and friends, I kept thinking:  “I have got to paint this moment!”  Thus the result, featured above.

I love the Episcopal Church’s tradition of red doors to symbolize the shed blood of Christ, so an arched red door was foremost in the rendering—just as the arched red door stands out on the gorgeous mini Norman style cathedral in our nearby little town of Delafield.  Also vital to me was a hint at the Norman architecture (which characterizes the entire St. John’s campus).  And in the painting, sunlight predominates—just as it did on Jamie and Leonardo’s day.  Likewise, I pray and believe sunlight will prevail in Jamie and Leonardo’s life together!

The entire day and evening were memorable beyond description.  The reception was held at a nearby fine dining restaurant on the lake which borders our communities.  A Mariachi band played faithfully and fervently for hours.  At one point, the groom donned a huge sombrero, and sang romantically to his bride (in Spanish, of course) while gazing into her eyes.  Most of us had not realized that Leo could sing.  He’s very good!

Rather than clinking knives on crystal to evoke kisses, each guest had a maraca to shake—painted pink, with Jamie and Leonardo’s name and the date to remember.  Mothers and grandmothers gathered up the abandoned maracas at the end of the party, to share with little people who always love to shake something.

The old saying applies:  “A good time was had by all!”

Margaret L. Been, 2013

For those of you who may appreciate a bit more definition, here is a photo of the St. John’s Catherdral.  The photo was taken in winter, so you’ll need to imagine the glory of a September day.  But the beauty of the architecture stands out clearly in winter.

St. John's 1

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“We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”  George Bernard Shaw

What a profound truth!  I know people who think and act “old”, simply because they stopped playing long ago.  And, conversely, I know individuals in their 90s who are still “young”, because of an interest in life, and a passion for hobbies and creative play.  My own father lived to be 102, and enjoyed life nearly until the end!  

Creative play is one of our greatest gifts, as we were made in the image of a creative God.  People who have never learned to play are bored, and they are apt to be boring!

I’m thankful to have had parents who realized the intrinsic value of creative play!  I’m thankful for years of gluing, cutting, coloring, digging in mud (nearly to China!), and grubbing for tadpoles in the river which bordered my childhood home. 

I’m thankful for a mom who let me keep the tadpoles in a fish bowl in our kitchen (until the critters lost their tails and sprouted legs; then they went back to the river). 

I’m grateful for the live Easter bunny I received one year, and for always having a dog to cherish.  I’m thankful for litters of kittens who entertained our family with their antics, back in the halcyon days when cats were allowed to roam at large and actually act like cats! 

I’m thankful for my mother’s huge box of elegant velvet and taffeta evening gowns from the early 20th century, for her plumey hats and beaded reticules—and for countless rainy afternoons of my spreading these garments all over the room and dressing up in them.  (My friends and I were allowed to play “Dress-ups” in my parents’ bedroom, because my mother had a full length mirror before which we could parade, primp, and be absolutely silly!)

Although my body is wearing out and only God knows what will become of the rest of me before He takes me home, I pray I’ll never grow too old to create with my hands and “make messes”!  I pray I’ll always have a spirit of pizzazz and panache for living. 

And I pray that, to the best of my ability, I’ll never stop playing!   🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2010

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Yesterday was the first day out of seven, that I didn’t have a fever which reached over 100 even though I kept beefing up with aspirin.  After lugging a cement sinus head around and feeling like something a cat might have barfed up, you can imagine the thrill of an outing!

We went for breakfast at a local restaurant—one of those owned by Greeks who know how to serve huge platters of food for a good price.  Joe and I always split a meal at these places.  Otherwise we’d leave feeling like we were going to blow up and we just might!

Then we went to THERAPYVILLE—that’s what I call one of my favorite stores:  the BEN FRANKLIN store in Oconomowoc.  This place is incredible for craft supplies, decorating stuff, creative gifts for all ages, you name it.  There I found:  YES! paste for all those collages I want to create; a set of goauche paints—new to me and wonderfully creamy to use; a funky mop brush for applying a wash on paper (the brush has a clear plastic handle with a pretty pink stripe); an angle shader—3/4″; and a set of wooden puzzles for our great-granddaughter, Brynn, who will be three years old in a few weeks.  (Brynn is passionate about puzzles.)

What a joy it was to get out!  Looking back, I recall many happy outings in the wake of sick spells.  One memory especially surfaces:  a 1962 recollection of going downtown in Milwaukee to the Shrine Circus with our first five children, after being incarcerated for ten days with what was then called the “Asian flu”.  I can close my eyes, and hear/see/smell that circus!  (And I can still taste the pop corn, even though we always brought our own to the circus.)

There are branches of THERAPYVILLE all around our home:  colorful coffee bistros, resale shops, used book stores, STEIN’S GARDEN CENTER—and charming antique shops in our villages and up our country lanes.  How delightful to come home with bounty.  The therapy lasts and serves me well, even when stuck indoors with a fever!

Margaret L. Been—All Rights Reserved

NOTE:  See that green stuff outside the window on the above photo?  It’s GRASS!  Coming soon!  🙂

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We have huge mountains of snow piled all around our building, created by the ever faithful plowers and their machinery.  The gentle hill leading to the park outside our front door is heaped high, and it looms like a wall of white in our patio door view.  Joe calls the hill “The Matterhorn”.  Dylan loves to run up The Matterhorn on his long retractable leash.  Then he lies down and rolls his cylindrical little body back down.  He does this several times each day, with a look of sheer euphoria on his face.

Dylan’s currently favorite pastime notwithstanding, I am thinking “enough’s enough”!  I’m ready to move on to the next items on the agenda–thawing winds and mucky March, eventually leading to warm breezes and vistas of GREEN!

Except for the pretty Valentines I received, all decorative vestiges of winter have been packed away.  Most of my red glassware has been stowed in a china cabinet–having been supplanted on tables and open shelves by Vasoline glass, clear crystal, pressed glass, and Depression era glassware in delicate shades of aqua, lemon yellow, and pink. 

I’m buying a live house plant every time we shop.  Even WALMART (called “WALLY WORLD” by our son, Eric) has live house plants.  Joe thinks we don’t have room for more plants, but I keep finding extra space by stacking the pots on footstools and extra tables in our windows, and hanging them from cute little wrought iron hangers–courtesy of HOME DEPOT. 

Then there are fake flowers–actually quite lovely.  Yellow “tulips” grace a wall planter fashioned by a friend who is a potter.  The phony posies have even made it outdoors to our garden.  A farmer’s antique milk can filled with pink “roses” hangs on a trellis, along with a garland of “forsythia”.  The riot of pink and yellow warms our view, otherwise dominated by the snowy Matterhorn!

My choice of apparel goes into a state of denial this time each year.  When I was little (a few centuries ago) I tried to quit wearing long cotton stockings in February–while begging my mother to let me wear knee socks or ankle socks instead.  I can recall Mother folding her arms and staunchly refusing my requests.  She always said, “You are rushing the season“!

Now I can wear whatever I want, and I’m still rushing the season–albeit with caution.  I refuse to wear brown, grey, or black skirts again until next fall.  But it’s easy to pull a poufy, flamboyant gypsy skirt over my WINTER SILK long johns.  Sheer, romantic style blouses can be draped over a cashmere sweater in a springy hue.  Strands of colored beads never fail to complete the picture of a funky woman who refuses to brook any more winter in her life–at least for a few months!

Meanwhile, I keep checking online for our zip code’s 10 day forecast.  It’s WINTER TIMES 10!  Oh well, I’m having a lot of fun–in my deluded state of DENIAL!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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