Mr. Noodle

Mr. Noodle
Mr. Noodle

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Dan teaches me drawing

I had not done a lot this past week, art-wise, since a number of things came up that prevented me to showing up at the - what - drawing board? I guess so. I made significant progress on knitting my Sunwheel mitten - which isn't technically art but it scratches a creative itch. Given that I'm working on a complex pattern, people are super impressed when they see what I'm working on.

There is a thrift store chain in Salt Lake City called Deseret Industries, or "DI" for short. I go there quite regularly, probably twice a month, and I often check out the area that has picture frames, mirrors, and paintings. So far I have come home with a few small canvases with ugly paintings on them, the DI sells them for $1. I knew I could paint over them and start from scratch, so I had a tidy collection of them that I finally got to tonight.

Dan already has a good collection of acrylic paints and brushes, but tonight what I needed was a large volume of white to make a clean slate, so to speak. Soon into this very simple act of covering up old paintings with white, I realized that I needed a painting smock. Dan leaped out of his chair, he had just the thing! And quickly fished out a lab coat he used when he worked at a distillery. It's very big on me, but perfect for my purpose.

He's been bugging me for a while about gesture drawing. He wanted to teach me gesture drawing. I did a drawing exercise with my weekly art planner that I mentioned last week, and he basically said okay when you are finished what you are doing, we'll do some gesture drawing together. As luck would have it, all three kitties were in the living room and available to be subjects for drawing. So we started there.

With manila paper and charcoal, we drew a few things. Feiminn. Djarfur. The IKEA watering can that they use to drink water out of. And the cat tree we assembled on New Year's Eve. (There were a few other things too but they are not worth sharing). Dan gave me encouragement and praise for my technique, and instructed me for what to do next time. He's been to several art schools, and has thousands of hours of drawing logged himself, and he also happens to be a great teacher.

Djarfur, cleaning himself

It turns out I like gesture drawing better than I like line drawing. At least for now. I think that will help me develop confidence.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

I joined a choir

When it rains, it pours.

It's almost as if announcing my intention to the Universe had this cascading effect of throwing lots of things at me.

Last week I was out for a walk with my friend Emily and she told me she was thinking about joining a choir. She described a choir that was very similar to a non-auditioned choir I was a part of before I met Dan, 11-12 years ago. I went straight home after that and signed up for Utah Voices. Emily and I carpooled to Bountiful (about 12 min north of where she lives) and joined the second rehearsal of the season, our first.

Boy, am I ever rusty. I don't know any of the Broadway songs and I certainly don't know Mozart's Requiem, but I am excited to learn them and learn to read & understand sheet music in the process. There were probably about 100 people there. The director is fantastic. The accompanist is amazing. I am really going to enjoy this. We perform in March (Broadway songs), May (Mozart) and July (?).

That drawing class I mentioned last week? That turned out to be a major disappointment. I arrived at my class on Tuesday after having spent another $75 on drawing supplies. The class was supposed to start at 6:30, and by 7:00, the teacher had not shown up and no one at the school came to tell us if she was still coming. There were two other new people too - what an impression to make! I left. She arrived, apparently, just after I left. I was so pissed off at having my time wasted like that, I decided to withdraw. I mean, I live with an artist for heaven's sake, it's not like I need to pay someone for instruction. So that was a good lesson for me. 

I emailed my complaint to the art center the very next morning and after three business days I have yet to hear back from them. So I'll leave an honest review on Google. I returned the drawing supplies I don't plan to use and at least recovered some of my money.

Meanwhile, there is the library. I got this great book on folk art with some accessible exercises. Most of them call for painting, which I'm not quite ready for, but I do have a massive collection of colored pencils, so I'm starting there.

And, since Dan is so encouraging of me pursuing music, he felt it very important to get a piano keyboard for when I practice, for tone control. He is currently learning about/building electronic instruments and would have eventually needed one anyway. But we are well on our way to having a recording studio in our home. (How did that happen?)

Today I went to the book store for a day planner and found this gem in the art section. It has ideas for things I would not have thought of doing, so I expect to show some of the things in this blog.

I don't have any major goals for this year of Art Exploration. I will have performances, so that's nice. I can't say I plan to have a show - maybe once I have accumulated some things worth showing I'll do that, but goodness, we are only in mid-January. One thing I would like to see though is having more art in our home, art we created ourselves.

And if all this wasn't enough, I started seeing a new chiropractor yesterday (she cleared a migraine I had had for four days!) and when I mentioned to her that I had joined a choir, she invited me to her bag-piping troop. Oh I was sorely tempted. I am very interested in bellows instruments, and apparently bagpipes only have nine notes. I love bagpipes. But I think I need to focus on what I do have right now.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I started a drawing class

I am the forever student. I am always learning something and have so many interests so always want to learn much more than I realistically have time for. I have been studying Danish for almost a year now (according to Duolingo, I am 67% fluent, though I have yet to converse with a native speaker). Near the end of 2017, I decided to declare 2018 my year of Art Exploration.

My husband is an artist, part of a larger family of artists. His youngest sister is at a fancy art school in Ireland right now. His mother has been painting for 30+ years and is having a show this spring. I have no art at all in my family history, I have only dabbled here and there with things. Of course, you can count my multiple knitted sculpture as art (and I do), but those days are long behind me now as I have not had time to knit since before immigrating to the United States (almost five years ago!).

A thing I do sometimes is go to Salt Lake City's largest thrift store chain, Deseret Industries, and buy secondhand paintings on canvases. Not because I like the subjects (I really don't need a painting of a temple or of 'Marissa' (?)) but I've heard a thing that painters do sometimes is paint over an old painting. For $1 a canvas, how could I go wrong?

However, people keep telling me that you must learn to draw before you can paint.

I have drawn things in the past, mostly stick figure cartoons or goofy animals (mostly cats and sheep, duh), and one year for Christmas I drew caricatures of my husband's family as matryoshka - in lieu of gift tags. But I am only familiar with pencils and colored pencils.

Last week I started a drawing class at a local art store. The supply list was awfully long (!) and I doubt I'll ever be interested in using graphite sticks regularly, but I now have all the things I need going forward to explore different drawing techniques.

I have also started listening to some art podcasts. The first one is the Thriving Artist, and I think I've only listened to one or two of those. The topic was about the business of being an artist, that is, making a living doing it. Very interesting. I just got promoted in my research job last month and have a shiny career ahead of me, so I don't have any plans to be a career artist any time soon, but you never know where life will take you. The other podcast I found is the Savvy Painter - that one comes out every week and it's been very interesting learning how people manage their lives around their painting.

I'm not sure if I'll stick with the drawing class I'm enrolled in - I don't 100% love it, but I'll finish out the month I paid for and go from there. Dan has offered to draw with me (he's taken tons of drawing classes, has been to three art schools) so I think we may take that up. There are other things I want to explore too - such as painting, ceramics, fiber arts, and maybe some other sculpture. We have three kitties now, so whatever I end up making has to be cat-proof, but I think I'm up for the challenge. I do think I have the discipline for self-study though. After training for a half-marathon in 2016 and learning a second language using an app on my phone, I know I can persist if something really catches my interest. So I will explore.

I plan to use all the learning tools available to me. We have a fantastic library system in Salt Lake City with a massive art collection. There is also the Internet. I even have some artists in my life here that I could hang around. I'm not sure about posting pictures of my progress and projects, we'll see how happy I am with them. I'm not interested in being "good" - I'm too whimsical for that. I just want to make things that I like to look at. I joined Instagram a couple of months ago and that will help with inspiration.

If you, dear reader, have any recommendations what so ever - books, videos, podcasts, IG accounts - please throw them my way! I'd love to hear from you and get exposed to things I have not yet seen.

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoy this year-long journey with me!

Monday, November 20, 2017

am planning to return

Goodness it's been a year and a half since my last post. Forgive me. A lot has happened in that time and life continues to gallop apace. 2017 has been my 'year of fermentation' and I am declaring 2018 my 'year of art exploration'. That will mean all sorts of things, so stay tuned (if you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them). 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Things I was told not to do today

Sometimes the people in a dental office can come across as accusing.

I went in this morning for my 6-month cleaning and check up. My teeth are in good shape; I brush twice a day and floss every day without fail. Still, I have sensitive teeth and bleedy gums. Both can be genetic predispositions, which I believe I have because the hygienist and the dentist listed the following reasons for my minor problems:

- not brushing enough
- not flossing
- sugary soft drinks
- unsweetened soft drinks
- energy drinks
- smoking
- brushing with a hard bristled toothbrush

I like my dentist, I do, but they do get a bit preachy at times. I very seldom drink sodas and never any with aspartame or energy drinks. (In fact, I eat very little sugar which is not only good for my teeth but my brains and gastrointestinal system) I have never smoked. I have never used a hard bristled toothbrush - I have always used a soft one.

I know that's just their bag of reasons they feed to everyone but good grief. Instead of telling me these are the reasons, they maybe could ask if I do any of those things instead of assume. I found I had to defend myself against their accusations. Maybe all their other patients lie?

Now to be fair, one of the things the dentist did mention was citrus and citric acid. I have been consuming a lit of citrus lately (I found a guy on KSL who goes to Arizona every other week and picks citrus there, brings it back & sells it in Utah out of his house - my citrus dealer). So I will cut down on that. I just get a bit annoyed when someone like me, with a sophisticated understanding of health and especially dental health, gets a lecture on how to brush my teeth properly.

/end rant

No cavities! 

Monday, February 15, 2016

Training for a Half: week 4

No you didn't miss all the other posts about the Half marathon I have signed up for. I've been bad at keeping the commitment to myself of blogging once a week. I think maybe it's the day/time I scheduled always got overtaken by other things. I first had it scheduled for Friday afternoon, when work was winding down and I was not likely to be interrupted, but then someone scheduled a meeting for that time. Then I tried putting it on Saturdays after I got back from Food Not Bombs, but by then I am so motivated to clean the house or do other chores that opening up my computer was the last thing I wanted to do. I'll work on finding the right time.

In our first year here (2014), I signed up for and ran a 5K race alongside the Salt Lake City Marathon. They continue to send reminder emails years later for past participants to sign up for something for the next race. When the reminder came in early January I decided now is the time, I'm finally going to do a half.

I did a 10-day juice fast over Christmas & the New Year and lost 6 pounds. I was lighter than I had been in more than 15 years, I decided I was ready to start training. I have a treadmill too, so I really have no excuse (such as weather) to not run.

I'm a big fan of health and fitness apps. I have a fitbit and check my fitbit app constantly to see where I am in relation to the people I am fitbit friends with. Back in December 2010 I discovered the newly released LoseIt! app and have been charting my ups and downs with that for more than five years now, it's so gratifying! I love my Nike+ Women's training app that combines dumbells and other equipment with cardio segments. When I signed up for this Half, I went to the "coach" section of my Nike+ running app, plugged in the date and length of the race I want to train for, and then 12 weeks of training plan was laid out before me.

The plan includes four days of running - two light (3 miles), two heavy (one longish run, one longer and longer run). It also includes one day of cross-training (so I use the aforementioned Nike+ training app) and two rest days. My main goal is to get through this training and race injury-free, so much the better if I can reach my goal weight while doing it.

A funny thing happens though when you are trying to reach a goal weight and then start an aggressive fitness program. The weight remains the same as you burn fat and start building muscle. I can't get discouraged by the number on the scale (but I sorta do) because the way my clothes hangs is totally different. I have to keep reminding myself that since moving to SLC just over two years ago, I have lost 35 pounds. That's no small feat! And now I am training for a race, a half marathon, something I have always wanted to do. Even if I never do it again, I will be pleased.

I am still juicing every day, sometimes twice a day. After doing that 10-day Reboot, I have a really hard time eating anything that has been fried, processed foods, or bread. It's been really interesting seeing how my body is adapting to this new regime in our house - Dan and I hardly eat meat anymore as we move to a whole-foods plant-based lifestyle. I am now one of those people who buys a 25-pound bag of carrots for juicing.

I digress. The race day is April 16, two weeks before I finish my second Master's degree, and a few weeks after my 42nd birthday. I'm looking forward to my training as it will give me time also to catch up on audio books and podcasts! 

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Story of Samantha Sophia 2002-2015

Okay I think enough time has passed now that I can write about what happened.

We had a holiday party on Saturday, December 19. Sam usually hid in the back room when more than three people came into the house, and when she didn't move for a few hours, we thought that was really strange but wrote it off as her learning to be more social. A couple hours after everyone left, she started behaving very strangely. Constantly walking around the house, walking on parts of us and the bed she doesn't normally go, constant swallowing. At 2am we decided to take her to the emergency vet clinic.

A few very expensive tests later, the vet told Dan that Sam had no platelets - no cause, no cure - and would not live to Christmas. While we were there Sam became very lethargic and went blind. It was so hard to watch. We were given the options of leaving her there for more tests, having her put down, or taking her home. We opted for the latter. We got home at 4am and she was totally unresponsive. She went peacefully an hour later.

It was just so sudden and there was no way we could have prepared ourselves for that, nothing we could have done differently to help. She did not suffer.

It's been a long time since I have had to mourn the loss of a loved one. She was my baby, we were together for 13 years - a long time for her breed as I understand it but I expected her to live at least to 17. That cat has been all over the place though - she was born in Korea, I took her to Canada in 2003, she moved between Alberta & BC for a few years until we settled in BC, Then we immigrated to the United States in 2013, moved to North Carolina and then Utah eleven months later. She lived in Utah just nine days shy of two years.

This all happened at a very interesting time, actually. If it had happened during a semester I would have been completely messed up. Because she died just at the beginning of the Christmas break, I had time to grieve with no work obligations - and we had no social plans for Christmas either (thank the heavens!) If it had happened at the end of this spring semester when we are also planning to move out of the house we are renting, that would have been difficult too. So really, it could not have come at a better time. Kitties know that, I think. Still, it's been hard getting used to our house being really quiet.

In the days that followed her passing, we took out all the kitty supplies. Her two scratching posts were nearly threadbare anyway, and with the mobility ramps that Dan built in 2013, all her paraphernalia took up a lot of space. I gave away her food to neighbours. We had to clean up from the party anyway but we have completely rearranged the house again.

It's also really changed our perspective on things. It was unconscious, but we had planned to stay in Salt Lake after I graduate partly because we didn't want to put her through another move. We don't have to worry about that now. We can also go away for a week or weekend and not need to find someone to look after the kitty. We definitely plan to get cats again in the future but not until we are a bit more stable and we know where I will be working.

During the week around New Year's eve, I looked after my friend Jenn's cats while she was away. She didn't know I had lost my companion. It was so nice to be loved up by her big fluffy kitties - I think they knew I was grieving for my baby.

Because of the full-on winter weather we had for the two weeks over the holidays, we weren't able to find a place to bury Sam. Finally, on New Year's day we found a good place in the western desert and gave her a perfect send off. We did everything we could for her, and now it's time to let her go and move on. I still get sad and cry every day when something reminds me of her, of course. She's the only pet I have ever had in my adult life. But as a gardener, I understand that all things must die that others may live.