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Archive for April, 2009

Tossed away.

A subset of my doodles on FlickrIn fall of last year I had an opportunity. A gallery owner in New York City saw my doodles on Flickr and invited me to join a group show in spring 2009. (Several artists on Flickr were asked to join.)

I rejoiced in being invited yet hemmed and hawed about whether I’d accept. In the end I signed up, making a vague notation in my brain about April being a key month for getting the paintings done. Then I went on with my life.

Thanksgiving and Christmas came and went, as did the new year. I made the intention to Finish what I start. President Barack Obama was inaugurated. I rejoiced again.

I bought canvases for the art show, gessoed them, set them aside in my writing room. Looked at them most days, noted that it was time to begin painting, procrastinated.

In early February I decided to get serious about starting the pieces. I cleaned off my work table, filed three months’ worth of bills. We took on a Mexican exchange student from February 7-21. A pinched sciatica kept me in bed for almost two weeks.

By the time I sat down to paint, I had frittered away four months. I looked up the date when the paintings needed to be in Manhattan. February 28. The show was in early April. I missed the deadline. 


Second chances.

A subset of my doodles on FlickrI have a new opportunity. Our community, which boasts an inordinately large number of artists and craftsmen, holds an annual art studio tour. This year the tour happens the weekend of May 2-3. I will be showing in a gallery with a handful of other artists—real artists.

Here is my chance to make the leap.

When Obama was inaugurated, I did a quick doodle. As soon as I finished it, I knew I wanted to do a series of Obama faces on 12″x12″ canvases for the New York City art show. My problem was never a lack of ideas; rather, it was a lack of follow through.


Showing up.

I picked up the paintbrush in March. When I started, I painted to the tempo of a little voice saying, I don’t know how to do this. I’ve never painted on canvas. If gessoed, I figured, canvas should act similar to gesso on wood. I was wrong.

Painting is a process. This painting, the first in a series, is a work in process. I thought it was almost done, but then I realized that I hadn’t learned how to control—or, rather, let myself lose control—of the paintbrush. 

When I began thinking about painting on canvas, QM suggested that I do a post about my process. I agreed even though I had no idea if my ideas about process would work. I’m not done with this painting, but I can tell you this—it’s not the actual process that’s important. What matters is that you have one. 


Learning process.


My original "quick and dirty" Obama doodle, pen and ink on graph paper. I enlarge it to fit my canvas and drew the outline onto tracing paper.

My original "quick and dirty" Obama doodle, done with pen and ink on graph paper. I enlarge it to fit my canvas, add a background, and draw the outline onto tracing paper.





Step One: Transfer the image outline to canvas

I transfer the image outline to the canvas using good ol' carbon paper, the kind used in days past for typing mimeographs. This prep work takes a lot longer than I expect, about half a day.





Step 2: Paint first layer of gouache (watercolor) on canvas

I paint the first layer of gouache (watercolor) on canvas, starting with Obama's face. I don't like this color of blue; it's too purpley. I still haven't figured out how to mix colors to find the right one nor how to use my brush as a tool versus an obstacle.





Never working with watercolor on canvas, I'm afraid to make mistakes. I notice when I'm bold with color, I end up going too dark, such as the brick red portion of the circle behind Obama.

I paint slowly. I'm afraid to make mistakes, and I notice that when I go bold I end up adding too much paint, like in the orange portion of the circle beside his head. I need to dig in but I'm stuck at not wanting to mess it up. I procrastinate again.





I add more paint and texture to the face, going in dark and then using lighter paint to emphasize shadow. Now that the face is coming into focus, my ideas about the background are changing completely. Good thing gouache is maleable.

Finally, I pick up the brush after a hiatus. I add more and more paint and texture to the face. To create dimension---shadow and light---I go in dark with shades up to black and then use light paint to take away the dark. Now that the face is coming into focus, my ideas for the background are changing. Good thing gouache is maleable.





While watching American Idol, I find that I loosen up with the paint. I'm also trusting that I can fix mistakes, that nothing is permanent. I experiment with using the brush the way I would a pen.

While watching American Idol, I loosen up. I'm trusting that I can fix mistakes, that nothing is permanent. Also, if the room is kind of dim, I have a better time seeing contrast. I notice that I have too much light paint on the tip of Obama's nose. I'll go in next time and put in more shadow at the bottom.





In my original doodle I forgot to capture Obama's mole next to his nose. I got it this time, although I'm not sure if I'll change it to blue to match the rest of his skin.

In my original doodle I forgot to capture Obama's mole next to his nose. I got it this time, although I'm not sure if I'll change it to blue to match his skin. I notice his eyebrow is too dark, but I can go in, lighten it and add texture to make it look more natural. (Although, is "natural" a consideration when his entire face is bright blue?)





His mouth needs work; it's clownish looking to me, and I've barely touched his teeth and gums. But I am enjoying his cheeks and those deep crevices he gets when he smiles. Also, I experiment using the brush the way I would a pen. Amazingly, painting is not that different than drawing.

His mouth needs work; it's clownish looking to me, and I've barely touched his teeth and gums. But I am enjoying his cheeks and those deep crevices he gets when he smiles. Also, I experiment using the brush the way I would a pen. Amazingly, painting is not that different than drawing.




Overcoming fear.

Here’s what I know. I’m the only person who’s ever stopped me from realizing my dreams. I’ve gotten out of my own way this time. Next time I might be right back in the middle of the road with my hands out in front of me yelling STOP! But not today.

My goal is to paint six pieces for the early May show. I have less than a month to go, and I can only paint in the evenings and on weekends. I went to a carpenter and asked him to make me wood boards to paint on. Canvas works, but I still like wood best.


Just painting.


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Gouache postscript.

Thanks to QM’s curiosity, I’m adding these excellent links on the topic of gouache.

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By Lesley A. Goddin



Spirit walkers. Moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path. December 2008 © photo 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Spirit walkers, moving slowly leaves an energy impression on the path, December 2008, photo © 2008-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.





Slow or fast.

This is suddenly the question of the century for me.

I was born slow. A brown-eyed, curly-haired Taurus—stubborn, plodding (yes, it really says that in horoscope descriptions). Maybe lingering and savoring, which is why we like food so much.

My childhood was given to many daydreams and meanderings, and walks in the woods, among the poison ivy and honeysuckles and magic of light falling through green leaves. Looking and sketching. Slow thinking. One thought cascading down upon another like water tripping down levels of a rock fountain. Nourishing.

But as time went on, slow fell out of style. It was FAST! FAST! FAST! Multitask—no time for lingering or even being present. In my 30s, I actually remember sitting in my corner office on the 35th floor of a building at 52nd and Broadway in Manhattan, thinking, “I am like a well-oiled machine.” I was proud of that, proud of being able to zing from one activity to another; excited by life, excited by my ability; buzzing with importance.




Golden nuggets. As I linger in the fading light, the rocks around me turn to gold. December 2007 © photo 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Golden nuggets, as I linger in the fading light, the
rocks around me turn to gold, December 2007, photo
© 2007-2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






Now I am 51. And the fast life is losing its appeal. I moved to New Mexico 14 years ago, but kept up the pace. Except now fast includes email and texting and cell phones and being online with two email accounts and several social networking sites opened at once, as I sit in my home office and work remotely editing an industry trade magazine. Fast means keeping up with it all—answering emails the second they arrive; keeping my train of thought; not finding time to declutter my house or compound the oxidation that has formed on my 14-year old car hood.

This weekend, my body rebelled. It put a knot in my chest and a gasp in my breath and jelly into my legs. I know this syndrome—overloading my nervous system with stress and busyness and then trying to clear it out with intense exercise. My wise body wasn’t having any of it. Dreams of walking and yoga and deep breathing filled my head and my online research confirmed that was just what I needed. A return to the slow.




Solar lit labyrinth. The labyrinth awaits my slow, meandering pace. July 2007 © photo 2007-2007 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Solar lit labyrinth, the labyrinth awaits my slow,
meandering pace, July 2007 photo © 2007-2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






So, this is my mission now. To live in the slow. To BE slow. To BE. To savor and linger and walk just a touch slower than I know I can; to do one thing at a time; to give up worry and hurry for Lent. I am remembering who I am; I am snorting through my Taurus nostrils and stamping my bull hooves and pawing the ground in stubborn slowness and defiance of the world’s ever-increasing pace.

I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it any more—except I am not mad. I am sane. I am wise. I will meander through the cobblestone-and-gravel labyrinth I helped build at a local church and let God talk to me.

Tonight, out for my slow walk at dusk, I asked for Divine direction. Across the street and up in the brown foothills, movement along the trail caught my eye. A huge deer, chocolate brown against the mocha dusty trail moved with grace, white rump flashing. Then another and another—seven in all. I stopped, stood smiling, watching their meandering climb, joined by a bicyclist to witness the miracle and share small words, all a gift of choosing to be slow. And I got my answer.




Pronghorns. Not the deer I saw in the foothills, but slow walking got me close to these pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona earlier this year. January 2009, photo © 2009 by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.

Pronghorns, slow walking got me close to these
pronghorn antelope in the Petrified Forest in Arizona
earlier this year, January 2009, photo © 2009
by Lesley Goddin. All rights reserved.






Lesley Goddin has been writing and journaling since her first diary at age 11, and drawing and sketching since she could hold a pencil. Her penchant for observation led to her becoming a paid professional as a trade journalist, publicist and currently as an editor for TileLetter, a trade magazine for tile contractors. She has also written for Guideposts, Walls, Windows and Floors, Floor Covering Weekly, and Low Carb Energy.

Her inspired writing life centers around topics of Spirit, including several sermons and an ongoing e-newsletter called Footsteps, for members of the labyrinth community in Albuquerque, an ancient walking meditation. She is currently working on a book of labyrinth-inspired essays called Letters from the Labyrinth.




-related to Topic post WRITING TOPIC – SLOW OR FAST?

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Roma in the old truck, date unknown, image
© 2009 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.




Look at her smile.

I knew her smiles. I saw her dimples and I saw her straight teeth, and I saw the dance in her eyes, but I never saw the smile she’s wearing in that photo.

That is the smile of a woman in love. An adoring smile. Look at it.

That is the smile that tells me Roma was a woman and a lover and a friend before she ever became my grandmother.








My Aunt Sophie, the oldest of my grandmother’s children, wrote an essay about her mother. The following are excerpts taken from that piece.


Roma was my mother. I wonder what my grandparents were thinking when they named her Roma. Her family called her Romey, her friends called her Romana, and close friends and relatives called her Romanita.

Her birthday was February 28, 1904. A very special date to be born. It was the day before Leap Year. I can verify that she was special. She was beautiful, she was romantic and adventuresome…She loved deeply, and others loved her because of her friendliness and her ability to reach out to others. She was born of an era when being poor was fashionable; a time when adults told stories to children about caves, trains, owls, witches and demons; it was one way of keeping the children at home in the evenings. Roma was a wonderful story teller. She loved to make up stories and songs and dance and laugh, all in that order.



I like to think about who Roma was before she became a grandmother. She grew up in the mining camps of northeastern New Mexico. She went to public schools with the children of immigrants from Italy, Romania, and Yugoslavia.

She was 16 when she married, a handsome New Mexican who was killed in one of the state’s worst mining accidents. At the age of 18, Roma became a widow with two children, the youngest not even a month old. Then she met my grandfather.

Mom told us about the songs her mother sang, songs she learned in school. Aunt Sophie remembered them, too:


When we were children, Roma sang us songs using the sounds of her childhood. The words did not make much sense, but the melodies live in us to this day.

Hanti-Nanche tu ti maja, mata tu san ches san a ma way.

Another song, a blend of English and Spanish, went like this: Cuando estaba chiquitita me decía me mamá, Pretty Baby, Pretty Baby.



I always wonder who took that picture of her in the truck. How old was she? It’s hard to tell. I imagine it was my grandfather, her second husband. Everyone called him Sandy, even his kids. He was a cowboy.

They lived on a ranch, seven miles from school and Cimarron, the real Wild West. Where pavement ends and Hell begins.

One last thought from Sophie:


I always enjoyed looking at my mother’s profile when I was working with her at some project. She had an abundance of rich, black hair, and depending on what she wore, her eyes were sometimes green and sometimes blue and she had this mischievous smile. Sometimes I wondered what she was thinking, and I wondered too why a woman of this beauty would be living out here where only the cattle roam.





Roma, date unknown, image 2009 by ybonesy, all rights reserved






-related to posts PRACTICE: My Grandmother – 15min and  WRITING TOPIC — GRANDMOTHERS

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