Category: Art

Happy. Art Part 3


Thompson Dog Park, Amarillo Texas.  Discovered this off leash dog park as I was wandering the neighborhoods of Amarillo, it’s located within a much larger park. Was super cold and windy so no one was there.  This might have been a good thing as I’ve read unfavorable reviews of crowds and trash. Wonderful park for us! Clean, Texas style big for long long runs and happy sniffing, green and it had a pond.  I did keep diverting the Lagotto’s attention from the water; far too cold for wet dogs.

A so-so night at Amarillo Ranch RV Park. They at first assigned me what could have been the worst site in the park which fortunately they let me change. I don’ know exactly why but it happens with some frequency that I as a woman RV’er alone am shunted into some of the worst spaces in RV Parks. Do they think they have to put me near the bathroom with the lights and people going back and forth or the entrance with lots of traffic, or in their worst space that no “single male” or couple or family would accept?  I do wonder.  Frankly the first space I was assigned should not be a camping spot at all as it was on a busy intersection surrounded with foxtails, bight lights and smack on top of the neighbors in front and to the side; kinda leftover  bit of land that some wise ass said, hey we can put another one in there.  That’s revenue!. I did notice that while they put out the No Vacancy sign they never put anyone in that site. To further this aggravation a single MALE in a 22 foot Sprinter showed up while I was going through the process of being switched which took quite some time; he did not have a reservation either and arrived at nearly an hour after I had,  yet somehow they found him a nice site. What, the park wasn’t full for him?!?! They didn’t put him in my vacated miserable joke of a site?!?!  You can tell I didn’t leave this Park a great review. It was not my style, noisy, crowded, strange layout, but in spite of the super-fierce wind I slept well. The park offered limo trips to the Big Texan Steak Ranch, my Canadian neighbors tried it with the comment, ”it was interesting,” BIG steak. Beef town. They (a mature couple and a cute little dog) in an upscale Class A were using my park site table (the one which should have been mine) since their outdoor TV and entertainment bar was on their opposite side (and they wanted to take up both sides, one for her and one for him I guess) which left me no room.  (They were supposed to use the table on their camp side.) Didn’t matter as it soon started RAINING with the wind and thunder, rock & rolling our rigs so after discussing treacherous driving conditions we all retreated.  Oh that was another reason I wasn’t fond of this place, I asked the ladies who staffed the park for the forecast, and , well, no, they didn’t know anything. Nope, not a clue. REALLY!  After about 10 min one of them gave me the local news station so I could listen to it in the privacy of my RV. Shush… everyone the weather is a SECRET!

Amateur art galleries on Route 66..  artist occupied.

I called ahead and reserved a different RV Park, Oasis, for the next night as  Amarillo was on snow watch! Up ahead was already a blizzard.

On the Route 66 section of town I found something open, it was still very early even after the dog park, comes from waking up at 5 am. Found a mall type building full of amateur galleries occupied on the availability of the artist. I visited the first one open owned by a woman who was married to the curator in charge of the Amarillo Art Museum. She told me how the City of Memphis, I think the Dixon Garden and Museum where the museum had been closed, maybe they were rehanging the pieces, had loaned works from Monet, Degas, Renoir, Sisley, Matisse, Cézanne to the little town of Amarillo. She was very proud of it so of course even though that show had closed I had to check out the museum.

Amarillo Museum of Art.  Dr. and Mrs. William T. Price of Amarillo Asian Art Collection.

It was raining. I love rain. Love exploring. I parked in the student parking lot. According to directions if you’re visiting the museum you do not need a parking sticker on your vehicle. I looked around for the pay machine; what I thought the parking sign said could not be right but there was no way to pay for a parking spot. Logically that meant I could not park there. In California if you can’t pay, it’s no problem you will be given a $50 parking ticket or possibly booted and towed. I closed up the van, lowered the blinds and cracked the windows for the dogs and happily immersed myself in the cool wet windy environs enjoying the sound my shoes made on the wet asphalt and then the brick stairs. I asked if I could park in the lot across the way, Oh yes, I was told as long as I was visiting the gallery, no problem. I stopped myself from asking how it would be determined that the owner of any given vehicle sans parking sticker was in the gallery or not. I did not see a spy.


Texas Panhandle Sunrise

Am running short of time and likely won’t have wifi again for a bit so will have to label the art work later (if anyone checks back) and tell the great story I heard about the Texas Rancher and his daughter who made the Amarillo Art Museum so special….  more wonderful American Art along with international offerings. Suffice to say that although it did not snow with the wind chill factor it was in the low 20’s and biting. the cold came in through the door seams, I had to stuff them and cover them over even with both my little electric heater and the propane heater it was still chilly, but enough to be comfortable especially with a nice hot Tex-Mex fish plate. Going outside for walks!  That was another story but by morning the storm had cleared….  nothing left but the WIND!


….  So may be a delay before the end of this journey is posted…  Off on the road again.

Art! Part 2. American Art

The museum is built around and above water with view points that bring nature inside. The exhibit are in pods and you walk from one to the next in a circle with views of nature and water as you pass through.


Eleven, at Crystal Bridges. Ate at both the coffee bar and the restaurant. Had a cap and sweet goodie, then when I was ready to leave, a trout club sandwich. Yummy!

Susan Catherine Waters, 1855-1860. Portrait of a girl and her dog in a grape arbor.  Self taught in a time of male dominated art. Women’s suffrage movement and an animal right’s activist. 

Randolph Rogers 1825-1892 Atala and Chactas

Francis Guy 1760-1820 Winter Scene in Brooklyn

Asher B. Durand 1796-1886 Kindred Spirits 1849. Memorial to Thomas Cole, Catskill Mountains.

Frederic Edwin Church 1826-1900. Home by the Lake, 1852 Optimistic view of America’s future.

George Inness 1825-1894. Sunset on the River, 1867.


Frederic Remington 1861-1909 Cowpuncher’s Lullaby, 1906

Stuart Davis 1892-1964. Still Live with Flowers, 1930.

William Hunt Diederich 1884-1953. Greyhounds 1913. Bronze.

Yasuo Kuniyoshi 1889-1953. Little Joe with Cow, 1923. Japanese born American artist.

Grace Hartigan 1922-2008. Rough, Ain’t it, 1949.

These are a few of the pieces I photographed as a sampling of the range and quality of American Art represented at Crystal Bridges. Good thing I don’t live closer or I’d be rooted; likely doing duty as one of the volunteers and sketching till I’d mastered each piece. Have been taking an Adult Ed course on American Art in Santa Barbara so, if you’re into art, maybe you can image my thrill to see some of these pieces in person and if not, just know that art hold a precious place in my world as a method of direct and subterfuge communication of both the tangible and intangible, perceived and visionary, representative, political or imagined and twisted nature of our lives.

Cool Stuff! In the Gift Shop.

More in the Gift Shop.

Hard to leave but the dogs are waiting! Wind and rain was picking up, so one last walk and off we went. As I take my last walk I think more about how art, culture, music, brings a cultural bubbling, like a spring itself, mixing, unsettling, stirring…  I saw cars from New York, Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Colorado, Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming, Ohio and me from California in the small upper parking lot on that random morning when I stumbled in.

Another walk with dogs.


Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art  I’d almost forgotten what I’d been told and how I had to stop here, so glad I remembered! Approximately 500,000 visitors a year. 

General admission to Crystal Bridges is sponsored by Walmart. There is no cost to view Museum permanent collections. There may occasionally be a ticket fee to view special exhibitions. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy.

This museum is changing the shape, tone and nature of the Arkansas Ozarks. 

“Many press reports about the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, have mentioned the more than
$1.2 billion in 2010 contributions (including $800 million for endowment) provided last year by the Walton Family Foundation, for which the museum’s founder, Alice Walton, serves as a board member.Nov 28, 2011″ 

The grounds of the museum full of orchestrated delights. Pet friendly! Woof! 

120 acres of native Ozark forest which include natural springs, streams, geographical features, and a host of native plants and animals.

The Staff/Volunteers, absolutely talk to them: informative, welcoming and sweet. I arrived an hour before the museum was to open, thinking I’d take a quick look and depart, that’s when I learned the trails are perfect for your dog. The fellow watching over the entrance convinced me to go get my dogs out of the van so he could meet them and then get exploring on the trails. Was a day of light rain on and off, clouds and bursts of sun. I think we hiked every beautiful inch, didn’t get too wet either. 

LOVE. I learned during my visit how many West & East Coast people are relocating to this area.

The Gardens and Trails are full of American Art, like this guy.

Finally we spot bears that didn’t scare my dogs!

Inside The Way Of Color  Chamber

It was hard to leave these beautiful grounds to check out the interior but finally I put the dogs back up in the van and set out to see what was inside.

Here’s a fun video, walking in high speed!

Heading North in Arkansas

The wind lessened allowing a nice drive through Arkansas.  The Info guide had told me I’d be passing though a cross-section of countryside and towns, some prosperous, some not and then I would reach the Ozarks. I had a fantasy of heading north through Missouri until reaching the turn for Denver / Boulder and crossing the Rockies over I-70.  Like I said a fantasy, comes from living in Coastal CA too long, heck my old camper-van can double as nice sporty ski car or a trusty SUV, right? It was late March, barely April, that’s winter in the mountains; nevertheless heading north afforded adventure. It was a dark day, beautiful, green, flowery, lush with tall trees, rivers and lakes, lots more butterflies, brightly colored birds and pockets of sunshine.

A town on the way

Another town,. . . needs some paint.

This was in Hardy towards the end of the downtown district. Lots of shops, restaurants, historical areas and more…  sorry didn’t take many photos. Took a nice walk with the dogs.


Hardy Arkansas   Started as railroad construction camp in 1884  . . . The little town of Hardy, AR boasts three museums, summer musical shows, bed and breakfast inns and several festivals each year. Cherokee Village, the state’s first resort/retirement settlement, is just southwest of town, offering lake activities and two championship golf courses.

I didn’t take enough pictures to show the charm of this little town and surrounding areas. I could image it being very crowded and lively later in the season.

From their website: Art & Artisans, BINGO, Canoeing, Cultural Heritage, Fishing, Floating, Hunting, Wildlife, Kayaking, Music, Fish Hatchery & Aquatic Center, Parks, RV Camping, Dining, Lodging, Shopping, Zip Line, Spring River Artist Guild, Festivals, Events & Retirement.

The campground at Hardy. Was only one camper in a rather spacious riverside campground.  I thought about staying, went exploring looking for the section of lake area retirement homes. I’d met a woman, a bit my senior in a downtown cafe who told me how much she loved living here. She explained how she’d lived in Coastal Oregon and in Colorado but returned to Arkansas in spite of her grown kids request to have her closer. Living was easy, not complicated, she told me, safe for women on their own; a place to enjoy rather than struggle. She truly loved living here, was happy near one of the lakes, and although we didn’t know one another, she encouraged me to check it out. That it was a better life here.  She wouldn’t be the only, on her own, mature single woman to tell me similar about Northern Arkansas.



Gonna post this while I figure out the next photos and time.  The Ozarks out in Arkansas were so lovely!

Glorious Spring

The night I spent at T.O. Fuller State Park in Memphis was hot, in the 80’s and muggy.  The Park was sparsely inhabited (by humans.) There were a few such as the camp host, a sparse scattering of other campers and a lonely young ranger who gave me a tour of the sparkling new environmentally constructed 1 million dollar nature interpretative center! The old golf course had been restored to a wildlife area including habitats of floodplain wetlands, wildflower valleys, native grassy meadows, and upland ponds. The Mississippi Flyway brings over 100 different species of birds to the area in spring and fall. The day I was there butterflies wafted in the air amid the moaning of wind, then they’d suddenly zoom off like streakers, black, blue, yellow. The nearby condos were slated to be soon restored into wetlands and a fishing lake. The heavy beat of nature echoing the heart of Memphis was quick and sharp to my anxiety over the power that the coming storm might bring. I’d checked and rechecked the weather apps on my phone; Memphis would be okay, Memphis would not be okay. Danger, destructive, us little campers in our RVs, if it happened, we made no difference.


The camp host, I thought classically withered, rustic; younger than me but seemed older, had lived in the park 25 years. I liked him and once he moved past his hesitation of yet another clueless camper he began sharing the wisdom of the forest. He showed me the wild pepper and wild onions, the rare wild cherry tree outside the back window on my mothorhome where I camped. He said the space I choose used to be where he lived and every night a wild coyote would lay under his window and depart in early morning.  I wanted to be in his world for just a little bit so went off to get Chester’s Chicken at the Truck Stop and just like he told me, it was good, I bought potato wedges but I forgot to get the jalapenos…  he’d explained how those could be spread over the chicken and the extra used over a few fried eggs in the morning.  I filled the gas tank at $1.99 for regular when I  returned he told me that due to the geography of the mountain the damaging winds would tend to be over our heads — heat like this and a storm could mean large destructive hail or very damaging winds. If that happened we would all run (all of us, all the dogs and all the campers) to the bathrooms. The bathhouses were built to be storm shelters and the one at this park was newly renovated. Now it made sense the large solid entrance ways of the Texas rest stop bathrooms, they were shelters too.

It was so hot that night I barely slept. The side windows were open but I’d closed the overhead vent and shut off the air conditioning. I peeped out the window at the trees swaying listening to the terrible howling of the sky; what battle was ensuing up there? My RV rocked, the rain fell only a little, mostly it was simply hot. I was impressed, it was obvious there was a fierce storm above and I later learned that those damaging winds had attacked other parts of the town. As the camp host had said, even though I practiced in my head getting all the dogs leashed in frantic wind and blistering hail, searching for my shoes, keys and coat. . . .   I practiced running and gripping little Mason tight but the violence of the storm didn’t come down into our cove. Instead I was in a pool of sweat wishing the rain could come inside the van and cool me off, maybe I should open the vent, but I didn’t dare. It was all fortunate, especially as two late campers had arrived with pop-up campers, I did notice they both parked very close to the bathhouse. Spring, this was Spring. A Spring that was wild, terrible and beautiful.


We all made it through the night.

T.O. Fuller State Park was the first state park open for African Americans east of the Mississippi River. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp in the area initiated construction of the park facilities in 1938. It was designated Shelby County Negro State Park in 1938 and was later changed to T.O. Fuller State Park in 1942 in honor of Dr. Thomas O. Fuller, a prominent African-American educator, pastor, politician, civic leader and author, who spent his life empowering and educating African Americans. Dr. Fuller served as principal of the Howe Institute, a precursor to Lemoyne-Owen College, for 27 years.

The park is a place that protects and showcases unique natural habitat while offering a wide range of outdoor recreational assets – including a new Interpretive Nature and Education Center, hiking trails, playgrounds, an Olympic-size pool and splash pad, ball fields, basketball and tennis courts, and terrific gathering spaces for families, churches, organizations and groups.



Dixon Gallery & Gardens   Memphis, TN
Go see this place in person my photos cannot and do not show what a glorious fantasy it is. Especially loved all the Tulips, the Summer Snowflake, the Redbud trees, Virginia Bluebells and more amid an English Countryside with fountains, statues, alcoves, butterflies and birds, stunning architectures so like a dream.  Regrettably most of the art museum was closed the day I visited and the cafe ran out of primary ingredients for the sandwiches.


Little Treasures

Here’s the view out my window.

My view out the window in the morning

My view out the window in the morning

Lee’s home has little treasures one discovers, she says she’s not an artist as she hasn’t the creativity. From what I see she is a true artist  Her projects aim to delight and express color, line and shape. The sky participates with dramatic thunder clouds, the water in the pool throws reflections, it’s all meant to delight. Here are just a few little treasures, there are many more, and many more to come… photos taken with a whitish not raining sky. Everything’s damp and cool, bit of sun warms everything then fades in and out.

Globes, balls and statutes amid the plants

Globes, balls and statutes amid the plants


Twirlies to fly in the wind :)

Twirlies to fly in the wind 🙂

The Gazebo in the woods

The Gabezo in the woods

Wallets, Windows and Welcomes

The dogs and I headed north Good Friday Morning.

I woke at something like 5 am from my usual head spinning with too much stuff. At a quarter to six I bumped out of bed, at 7:30 I was sitting in the driver seat, dogs in their spruced “car beds” for a little more padding against the rough ride. Mason adored his, Olympia, hard to tell, she wound up sleeping on the edge of her bed kinda hunkered over with her head hanging down draped over the edge although at times she managed to fill the entire curve. Her bed is too small but its fits perfectly in the space she insists is the only place when the LT is in motion…. closest to me between the two captain chairs. She is fairly well wedged, Mason rides on the passenger seat which I’ve turned to face away from the windshield with back dropped against the dashboard…. not legal for humans to ride backwards. I should probably strap him in but he likes to get up from time to time to have a drink of water, on rough roads he prefers the floor next to Olympia or behind her in the walkway. I’ve considered crating them but they both rate riding in the rear where there’d be room for the crates or on the rear bed as undoable, the vibration must be horrific back there.

For amusement I’ve begun to snap shots of pet rest areas. We stop at about 1 to 3 out of 4. We’ve learned a neat trick, what I do as I pull in I try to discern the pet area so I can park as far from it as possible. This way we get a nice long walk on a clean path and over some soft grass to get to the pet area. Same on the way back. The pet areas are  filled with stickers, weeds, rough gravel which Mason will not walk on, and worse dog’s piles which their owners leave for other dog owners. The pet area tends to be stuck on the edges in dangerous corners with collections of snakes, spiders, bees, suspicious strangers; dry, hot, hard on the paws and barren. Thank you so much rest area guys, we know how you value us. To make it worse there are never any tie-outs to leave your pooch outside the human restrooms, so if it’s hot only the 4-legged ones get to relieve themselves. At times I’ve run to the restroom leaving the dogs with the overhead fan spinning and the windows open, only to find a line!!! Not much time to wait; in full sun I count the minutes until it gets too hot, I go quick and race back to the LT, much easier when it’s cool. Yes I have a micro-mini bathroom on board but sometimes I don’t want to deal with black water.

Okay, thanks for providing a sign but a bit limiting isn'tit?

Okay, thanks for providing a sign but a bit limiting isn’tit?

Rattlers and dogs, now that makes a good combo

Rattlers and dogs, now that makes a good combo

Ah, the fire hydrant!

Along with my new arrangement for the dogs, I’ve simplified the contents and layout of the LT. Less is more and all, so at one point or another I moved my wallet to a place where it cannot be seen. I’m sure I thought it out clearly, what a good idea it was. When I returned from my human potty visit, I sat for a bit, I was tired, I reached for my wallet thinking of several of the must do now things on my list and it was gone!  I mean gone! Nowhere! Frantically I re-opened the bits of windows the overhead fan racing back to the commode…..there was a long long line. I didn’t really believe I could have dropped it and not noticed yet I stood there in front of the line next the one I’d been in telling anyone who’d listen that I wasn’t cutting in but that I had to get in there and see if my wallet was in there. Vaguely there was a shadow in my head saying I was wasting time over a false panic but I couldn’t help it. Usually I carry enough cash for tank of gas in a secret location, I hadn’t done that this time. The flash went through my head, me sitting at a gas station or some lonely on ramp with the two dogs on my lap and my pathetic sign: Need cash for gas! Sure, right lady, my foot, you need money for your RV, get real!”

Nothing in the commode area, the poor lady in there, said, “don’t look at me, I didn’t touch anything, I don’t have your wallet!” ….  Okay I was talking kinda loud, half asleep as I was. As an excuse I can say there was no one to hold my hand and calm me down. I chased down the worker, who in broken English told me to knock on the door to the office down by the pet area. There was a guy in there having lunch, he got up and checked in a drawer, I could see a few things, sunglasses, a cap, maybe a man’s black billfold, a few keys. He was nice, I liked him, but I didn’t want to talk, he walked with me a bit but I rushed away back to the LT wondering if I had enough gas and enough strength to go back to the last rest area some several hours away. Since I had nothing else to do except think how my trip would be very short after I bummed $$$$ for gas, and how I’d have to abort my just started trip, I just sat there. Who was gonna give me $80? Maybe Mom could give the gas station her credit card number over the phone? I needed a banana chip, the dogs are used to my stressing out and were trying to ignore me, I’d torn through the LT looking for that wallet upsetting the happy calm of the day. Thank goodness I was hungry…..where I never ever put my wallet, because it’s nicely out of sight, not too far from the banana chips, you got it, my wallet. I stuffed the darn thing where it usually goes, so someone could see it if they tried, like me! Well, trip back on.

The work on the LT was great, the engine has tons of power, no more overheating and no more limping up hills. It cruised along perfectly at 75 and when I wasn’t paying attention at 80 along I-5. I took the north route from Santa Barbara and cut across Hwy 41 to I-5. I drove on parts of Hwy 41 I didn’t remember thanks to my GPS, it was lovely and almost devoid of traffic, then I joined all the crazy holiday traffic.

I arrived in Placerville around 5 pm. A little over 8 hours maybe 8.5: 2 gas stations, 4 rest stops, plenty of road construction, heavy traffic, a few dead slow trucks.

Tired but happy I reached Craig and Lee’s house, I love their place. Zak and Olympia did their battle thing but Lee is so cool, she could handle it and the dogs… Zak and Toby are the residents; Olympia and Mason were soooo happy, my two think this is heaven on earth!

Lee showed me all the work done since last summer, lovely fireplace replacement, bookshelves, pool all spruced up, super cool garden art, paint coming. We tromped down to the new gazebo…..all gorgeous but I couldn’t concentrate on any of it….no, my trip was ruined for the second time that day. The passenger window on the LT had made a strange sound…. I’d attached a shade suction device on it for Mason. The sun was beating on him. The window was stuck a little way up but wouldn’t budge, I pressed it down thinking it would re catch and tried the switch again, what a stupid thing. I started berating myself, I might have been able to pull it up and just leave it up but now it was gone into depths of the door leaving a big hole in my plans. Lee’s friends, David and Louie installing the great projects like the beautiful gazebo and the bookcase were still there. I wanted the guys to fix the window. They didn’t want to, it would take a body shop, maybe a window shop, an RV shop, whatever… sure, I thought, 5 pm Fri of Easter weekend, sure I’m gonna find someone to fix this….  So it was back to aborting my trip. Somehow we’d get home, the wind and rain soaking us soon to be chilled to the bone travelers. I called Frans, he knows what to do, right? I stomped around the van and tried to get the window to do something, the motor was pumping but no window; the guys were looking at tree that needed trimming to unblock the view from the gazebo. I was pacing with my phone in my hand like I do. Lee was on the computer and her phone trying to get help for me. “Don’t worry, we’ll get it taken care of,” No, I wasn’t going to go to the glass fusing class tomorrow after all, how could I with my little house open to the world. The guys coming up the driveway hearing all this fuss did a turn around. I was surprised, it’s been an eons since I’ve come across these sweetheart types. Yes I was a damsel in distress and Yep, they fixed it!!!! I was sure they were gonna to pull the wrong thing, shred something in the door listening to their work it out banter, but they didn’t. The track bar holding the window had fallen off. That nifty kit of tools that Frans gave me got a nice workout. Wow. I put everything back and gave the guys some cookies, a hug and a kiss.

The next day I woke up too early, Olympia needed to go out, her stomach was a bit upset; I couldn’t get back to sleep. Lee, Mary Peters and I headed to the glass fusing workshop, me mostly brain-dead from lack of sleep and left-over stress. There’s been stuff going wrong for weeks, months, actually make that years. I was worried the workshop was gonna be stressful, turned out the three of us were the only attendees, it was great. We had fun, Lee said it was a birthday gift, lunch too, dinner with Craig too. Am very happy to be here, I love these friends, there’s so much space, trees, grassy areas, flowers, craft and art, music, delicious food, conversation, busy active people, the dogs are crazy happy. My old stomping ground on the rivers nearby.

Mary Peter's creation:  waiting for firing and slumping.

Mary Peter’s creation: waiting for firing and slumping.

My round one... will be a bowl, Lee's will be a sushi plate

My round one… will be a bowl, Lee’s will be a sushi plate

The craft studio in Placerville, CA

The craft studio in Placerville, CA

We cleaned up our work area and put all our tools in the bucket. LOL they said we didn't have to do that!

We cleaned up our work area and put all our tools in the bucket. LOL they said we didn’t have to do that!

My First Printmaking Workshop

Something different for this post. The LT has been getting spruced up meanwhile……

I’d written exactly how it all felt but unfortunately I did so on a piece of paper…. An ordinary piece of paper in the jungle of pieces of paper. The world didn’t used to have so many pieces of paper…  or maybe there was a place for these things but now they take over. I saw that paper last night…  it was on my bed but today it is gone.

The exhausted would be artist.

The exhausted would be artist.

What I wanted to tell you was how I fared in my first week-long printmaking workshop. I had a nice title not whatever I will title this with….  it expressed the conglomerate of exhaustion with the ray of anger…  yes anger to break out of the non-being of art into the beingness of the artist.  Can one become an artist?

My workshop was in Ojai an hour drive over a curvy road. The first day I stayed up too late and could not sleep… due to a late conversation about dogs. ….  how dogs are telepathic. . . I don’t know if they are so much as they communicate in a more basic process….  brain stem, intuitive, picking up subtle clues and electrical signals we humans don’t notice. In any case I spent the night mostly awake and lost another hour due to the spring forward dilemma.

I’d been frustrated in my once a week 4-hour printmaking class, feeling stymied for almost the entire year. My art was getting worse. Anxiety was taking over…  anxiety of the clock, anxiety of being unprepared, of having nowhere outside of the classroom where I could spread out and work, anxiety of loss obliterating the present. Anxiety was winning. I couldn’t make emotions of loss and grief transform into two dimensions but I kept trying. Even bad art is art, I was learning something, right? One should just keep going. One line after another.

The highlight of my weeks was teaching Nose Work. Even on those days that began with headaches, teaching melted it away. All those smiling dog faces. The dogs were so happy! I looked forward to them and their happy owners. I did not look forward to printmaking class but I longed for it. I longed to find myself and settle into a rhythm—to break out into the realm of an artist. So one very expensive workshop should fix that right?

This is what I learned:

  1. Next time one signs up for a workshop, do a little research into the techniques that will be covered. Printmaking is a huge field. Come with some questions about the media.
  2. Prepare some images / designs / templates  / ideas for practice with the new techniques which will be presented. Don’t do what I did and sit there dumbly in front of an empty plate rolling on the ink, knifing on the ink, smooching it around and then in disgust wiping it off over and over until fed up and the hostess has to take you outside to the chicken shed because you think you’re just gonna scream.
  3. Get some sleep —  no I’m not sure how to do this.
  4. Bring some good food with you and actually eat it. Drink lots of water, don’t just carry it around.
  5. Hire a dog walker to take the dogs out.
  6. Hire someone else to clean the house for just this one week.
  7. When you do come home don’t try to do everything…  clean house, scrub floors, water yard, walk dogs, laundry, take care of bills, answer e-mails and then stay up really really late trying to prepare some images for tomorrow on the computer even though you don’t know how to do it.
  8. Actually pretend that you are a student and just try things without any expectations.
  9. Other artist in the workshop are really really really nice!
  10. Forget about the idea that time has any logical meaning….  10 or 11 hours at the workshop equate to something like 30 min except for those hours when the instructor is giving his lectures and you want to listen and pay rapt attention but you’re sooooo tired.

So I wound up printing dog stuff…. I was more anxious during this workshop than any other educational experience I can remember. The pressure was self-induced.  I had to produce something good! I had to perform under the watchful eye of the instructor and get those… oohs and aahs from the others as I pulled my piece from the press, as opposed to the “oh, it’s good really,” comments, which meant…  nice try, but really, you did that? ….  oh okay well I don’t feel so bad then.  (The women were all around my age and kept telling me how great I was doing for my first workshop and how hard it’d been for them…. bless their hearts!) It was close quarters and I was in the back where people gathered to work on some of the equipment. I couldn’t stand having people (i.e the cheerful instructor) in my space. I sort of shrank and spent time sulking when I couldn’t get a question answered.  The woman who owns the house / studio was incredible.  She took care of me. Took me out to the yard more than once to help me relax; it wasn’t her fault it didn’t work. She brought me things like an exacto knife, scissors and template material so I could make some stencils, she brought me ear buds so I could tune out the others, she brought me a stabilo pencil, she showed me how to organize my material and offered advice on the media and the art. Whenever anyone needed anything she had it. Her yard has chickens, ducks, dogs, koi, a thriving vege garden and art, she provided a young art student to wash our rollers and bushes, amazingly she made lunches everyday for her husband and live-in visiting international guest yet spent the entire workshop time in her (amazingly organized) studio helping us….  scolding only once in a while when someone really made a mess.

Ron, the instructor was great too…  I learned some new concepts and skills that will take me to another reality, but she really amazed me. So I was very stressed, anxious, exhausted and yet soaking it all in. After five grueling days I wanted more. I could do this for a living, I could give up sleep and sanity. I could slave away over a blank plate.  I could stay up all night trying to process.

I can’t explain this reaction. There were days I swore I’d give up art forever. I hated my work. I misjudged the ink. I was very tired. Our instructor had a talk about love, he said that if we loved something we did we should destroy it. He told stories about the harsh lessons of art school….  We should never get into a rut of repeating something we loved and then grow stale.  Art is not about rendering, it’s not about a pretty arrangement or a safe path it’s a risk, it should say something. I have no idea what that is…..     so I have work to come….


All images and text belong to me, Jamie Rosenthal and may not be copied or  reproduced. 2013