and… painting

Also may have traumatized the wee furry things by vacuuming a little. They seem to have recovered nicely.

and… painting

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What? November 22nd?

Where has November gone?

Some of you remember today as the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

Some of you know November as NaNoWriMo – 50,000 words, 30 days, 0 excuses.

While I do remember the death of JFK, I haven’t forgotten NaNoWriMo either. But this year, I was just finishing up one watercolor class when another started. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I’m easily meeting my November goal but as you can see from the word counter at right, it’s not showing in words per se.

Still and all a very successful November and it ain’t over yet!

Watercolor Class//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I’m closing with Kennedy’s famous inaugural speech:

Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens:

We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end as well as a beginning–signifying renewal as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forbears prescribed nearly a century and three-quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

This much we pledge–and more.

To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do–for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.

To those new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom–and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.

To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required–not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge–to convert our good words into good deeds–in a new alliance for progress–to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.

To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support–to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective–to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak–and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.

Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.

We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.

But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course–both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.

So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.

Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms–and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah–to “undo the heavy burdens . . . (and) let the oppressed go free.”

And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.

All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.

In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.

Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?

In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

Plein Air October 2018

Here are all the pix from the week of plein air painting with Bob LaFond:

En Plein Air October 2018//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Day Four, En Plein Air

Today as we were scoping out views at the top of the hill Bob, our teacher, suggested that I should try something with something in the fore and mid ground rather than just long views. So I picked a spot where the crest of the hill had a tree perched on it and then it dropped away to some pretty color trees and then the rolling hills of (turns out) Vermont. I did a sketch in my smaller sketchbook and then decided to just redo it with better placement on bigger paper and have at.

I know I could add more leafy areas but I’m mostly ok with it the way it is.

We did have some moments of sunshine which really lit up the world, like these birch trees. Hopefully more of that tomorrow.

In this life, so much of what we cannot control is caustic. The intrusive things we see, hear and smell make their way into our lives on a regular basis. If a painting can take you away from the crap out there, and help you scrape the day away, that’s appeal.
— Gail Griffiths

Wednesday of Plein Air Week II

The class arrayed on the hill above the Clark

Today we walked calmly up the hill behind The Clark (two of us wisely bringing our stuff with us because we knew we weren’t going up and down and back up again!) and we painted as the clouds came and went and light played on the hills. The only logistical problem of this hill is that it’s a cow pasture and as such has a lot of cow patties so you have be a little careful walking but more importantly you can’t just plop your bag and stuff down any old place. Just sayin’. Sometimes it has cows in it too.

I did not overlook any cow pies today. I found a place between some trees to stash my backpack. I did manage to pick up some nice quin gold deep on my sweater sleeve which I was able to get mostly out using a wet rag that was handy. One of the times that using a water-soluble paint is an advantage.

I thought I’d start out today doing a sketchbook painting before doing a flat paper thing. Too fussy. So I tried to work simpler with each piece and that was pretty successful.

What I Learned on My Vacation

There might not have been any lying around on beaches, sipping iced beverages and reading trashy novels but it was a great vacation. As you’ve seen, I spent the week with two other painters and an instructor Tony Conner from Vermont, learning about watercolor while painting scenes found in the Berkshires. This was a class offered through IS183, and if you’re looking to explore a new medium or go deeper in one you know, I highly recommend their offerings.

So what came of the five days spent with paint and a teacher. As with all media most of the work happens between your head and the paper but the process definitely gets a push if there’s a good teacher and you’re open to listening and trying and being open to doing things a different way, at least for the class. Tony is a very good teacher and able to explain the concepts and look at what I was doing to make concrete suggestions on how to proceed or what to try next time. At the end of our time each day we’d have a gentle critique, looking at the work we’d done that day and saying what we liked, where we’d struggled and what might have gone better. On the last day I put all my pieces on the grass and you really could see a progression – a small one – but the one I had worked on.

It’s easy to hear “oh that’s great! that’s beautiful!” when you show your work but it’s not always getting to what you had wanted in the end. That’s why we keep working and trying to learn, do more practice, watch more videos, read more etc etc. So at the end of the week, I could honestly say that I’m at the beginning of learning more about setting myself up to paint a scene – drawing, putting in the light and shadow areas down in washes and planning out and getting in the dark areas etc etc.

What else? As if that wasn’t enough? I already knew I like to paint outdoors. I’ve not always been a very outdoorsy sort of person and lately the whole tick thing really gets to me. This gets me outside, in the sun, soaking up the world and focusing on the beauty of it. Can’t beat that.

As I said Friday, I don’t want my paintings to look like photographs – I have a camera for that. I want to show more about what it was like to be there and let the viewer do some of the work of feeling it.

I used more paint in the five days than I could believe! I learned how to mix greens and only dipped a little into my normal greens that I carry. I learned how to mix real darks. I learned I really like real sable brushes. oh oh…

More to come!

Sunday – Paint, Words and Dad

I got up and out this morning. Forgot about people heading out to brunch for Dad. Bad news: had to wait quite awhile for food (ordered to go because the place was 100% packed). Good news: by the time my food came, on a plate, there were open tables. So it all worked out ok.

Thought I’d do a quick check on the blue herons and stayed to do a painting. Before I’d started on the scene, a father and child showed up, and stayed just long enough for a couple fishing casts and then they were gone again. Made me think about all the happy (and long boring) time spent in our boats fishing over the years. Millions of shiners caught individually by Dad, early in the morning. His time on the lake which let him spend more pleasant time on the lake, catching bigger fish.

This was my bigger painting:

and calling it complete. I was pretty happy with it and hope to do more “less detailed” or looser paintings this week.

I had a couple other visitors too