Saturday, May 31, 2008

My Mother's Eyes

It's been a busy weekend. Somehow, it has become all about eyes. My mother, still gorgeous at 81, just had a cornea transplant. The doctor is thrilled with the outcome of the surgery and although he only operated on one eye, it may turn out that her bad eye will become her almost perfect eye. Amazing!

I'm also dealing with an eye problem that I'm hoping will resolve soon. I go to the ophthalmologist this week to find out.

But the cutest eyes of the weekend are the ones I'm painting for the children at my son's former elementary school. They are performing in The Wiz. I've been volunteering my theatrical make-up skills to create lions and scarecrows and tin woodsmen and a variety of witches. If I can get some photos I'll post them here. The kids are wonderful in their roles and even more fun to work with. They go to a magnet school that puts on musicals of high school caliber. Truly wonderful!

So this weekend, the eyes have it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Feeling Chicken

Sometimes, it just comes to you from out of the blue and you have no idea why. Maybe it's a state of mind or maybe the muses are having a laugh. Or perhaps simmering someplace in your psyche is an attempt at being bolder. Of course, it could have been inspired by the label from the egg carton that was lying on the counter.

The answer is as inscrutable as the greatest philosophical question of our time: Why DID the chicken?

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Mister and Commander

I've always been aware of my father's role in World War II. He was a lowly corporal, a T-5 actually in US Army Air Force parlance, one of thousands from the Bronx who had enlisted when the bombs fell on Pearl Harbor. He didn't do anything worth making a movie about. After getting top marks in Morse Code school, the Army employed his ability as a radio repairman by having him load and unload airplanes, guard POWs, cover KP and other equally noteworthy duties during most of the war. At the war's end, he wound up in a radio tower in the mountains of Germany, sharing food with starving villagers and watching his buddies hunt with machine guns out of excruciating boredom. 

Dad has always been aware of his luck. He came close to being sent into different battles, including being shipped to the Pacific Theater of Operations. He saw Ike review the troops, got lost in Belgium but found his way back to base, and never had to serve at the front, although he tells cheerful tales of sleeping through the London blitz to his buddies' amazement. In all, he didn't see his parents or sister for four years. That's a long time when you're only 21.

After he was discharged, Dad, who had quit high school to help his parents during the depression, got his high school diploma, then went to college on the GI Bill. He might have become a history professor except his father told him to go out and earn an honest living after he graduated early. So Dad followed a different dream and became a journalist. 

He had an exciting career. He's met more presidents, senators, congressmen, politicians and celebrities than anyone else I know. But foremost was his loyalty to the men who served with him in WWII. He speaks at schools to tell students the importance of their sacrifice and has served as commander of his American Legion post for so long I think they voted him president for life. 

As part of his duties as commander, Dad organizes the Memorial Day parade in our tiny hometown. It's what demographers call the "exurbs" -- fancy talk for no sidewalks, no street lights and wild turkeys in your backyard. Still, Dad manages to produce an impressive parade each year, always going out of his way to invite veterans from all wars wherever he can find them. 

Sadly, his WWII peers are dwindling, but Dad is doing what he can to preserve their memories. At the age of 86 he still leads the parade on foot up and down the hills of our hometown, turning down any and all invitations to relax and recreate instead. His job is too important, he says.

Thanks, Dad, it's men like you that continue to make us proud. We salute you and all your brothers and sister in arms and wish everyone peace.

Happy Memorial Day. 

Friday, May 16, 2008

Now presenting

While the GPP Street Team Crusade 19 is over, I had one last stencil technique to conquer. I wanted to learn how to do portrait stencils. And who better to stencil than my own Bar Mitzvah Boy? 

Cutting the stencil was easy. The challenge was to find a way without Photoshop to reduce a photo to it's black-and-white essence while maintaining just enough detail. After much experimentation, voila!

I need to explore Michelle's new challenge -- paper casting. But the wheels have been turning about portrait stencils. Perhaps an order to Dharma Trading is in order for some fabric paint. How cool would it be to throw a party and let kids stencil their own portraits on T-shirts? Great use for those old day camp shirts. Maybe later this summer. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Fabulous find!

The Bar Mitzvah Boy (aka The Young Thespian) and I have been listening to one of his presents -- the original cast album of Monty Python's Spamalot.  It occurred to me somewhere between The Fisch Schlapping Dance and The Song That Goes Like This that the holy grail I'm searching for at present is the perfect blank book to turn into my next journal. The one I just filled was a surprisingly good purchase -- a Mead sketchbook with a handy pocket that I got at Wal-Mart. It has sturdy paper (much better than the pricier stuff at Michael's, JoAnn's, etc.) and large spiral binding.

While the Mead sketchbook was a sturdy workhorse, I want more variety and flexibility. As much as I admire people who alter old books, as a professional writer and editor I have problems defacing printed books. So imagine how delighted I was when I discovered the good folks at Bare Books! They specialize in blank books to inspire students but you can order, too. They have a variety of shapes and sizes, including board books and blank "story" books that have lines on half of every third page. How cool is that? And it gets even better -- their prices are fantastic and they have a flat shipping fee!

I'm also going to venture into the chipboard world. I like the idea of making journals out of random materials. I was totally inspired by the brilliant Mary Ann Moss's Dispatch from LA. There are amazingly wonderful things being created at Moss Cottage. I'm going to try some of the offerings from 7Gypsies, too, but if anyone knows of a better resource for making your own journals from scratch, please pass it on.

 I leave you with the latest in the series of still lives I can't seem to stop making.  And now, I really must go see to my shrubbery.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The unkindest cut of all

Weeks ago, eb inspired me with these saffron warriors and their silent plea for peace and freedom in their homeland of Burma/Myanamar. I wanted to run right out and get more mylar so I could create a new stencil with their image, but the Bar Mitzvah Boy had his big day coming up and there was much to do. The monks were set to one side as I began cooking and decorating and practicing Hebrew.

Well, our wonderful day is over and the monks have become more timely than ever. They are trying to distribute aid to their people following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis without the interference of their totalitarian government. To learn more, go HERE.

The devastation due to Cyclone Nargis has been terrible. You can see the extent by going to this map and rolling your browser over it. It will show you an aerial shot of before and after the cyclone hit. The people were never warned by their government and so the death toll has been staggering. 

I don't like to combine current issues with my art blog. There are other places where I write about current events in my capacity as a journalist. But these monks are telling me that I cannot separate their image from their cause, so I leave it to you, gentle reader.

You can get your own monks by going here. Many thanks to eb for the inspiration and a lesson in the power of art.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

It's Today!

The big day is here! The bar mitzvah boy and I are putting on our finery and off to temple. Blessings to all on this special day. We'll save you a piece of cake.