27 February 2013

Exciting News (and catching up ~ once again)!

Daisies
Posts have been few and far between lately.  In part due to being busy with the new house and with all the remodeling/moving/unpacking and settling in that went with it.  Another part has been due to job hunting ~ which has been nearly a full time job for the past few months.  There were many applications and many interviews, often with very positive feedback, but either I didn't have quite the "right" experience, or lacked the "correct" degree, which some other candidate had.  It was discouraging and disheartening to say the least.   For a while I feared that I was going to need to go back to school for another 2-3 years, the idea of which had me in tears for days.  So, I expanded my search to include the large Denver hospitals ~ something I had originally hoped not to do.

On a whim (or more likely a nudge from God) I put in an application for a position that "required" the degree that I do not have... and within a day had a positive response and a request for an interview.  To make a long story short, by the grace of God, my experience and education were deemed to be exactly what they were looking for and I have been offered a position in my chosen field (Mom/Baby), in a unit very similar to the one I left in Flagstaff!  I am relieved to be among the employed again and looking forward to starting orientation in mid-March!  I will have a long commute of nearly 60 miles one way that takes just over an hour in good weather, but with God's grace I know that even that hurdle will become a blessing.  

Sunrise on Snow
As with much of the country, we have had a fair amount of snow lately.  I love looking out the frosty window panes early in the morning to catch the first of rays of sun shining across a pristine blanket of new fallen snow!

Sir Thomas
The kitties are my constant companions no matter where I am in the house.  Sir Thomas is usually to be found within about six feet of me, if not closer, even when I am moving about the house.  Here he is hopeful that I might be headed for the kitchen and that a little food will come his way, even though it is hours until feeding time!  At 21 pounds of healthy strong cat, he isn't in need of any extra food, despite his highest hopes!

Miss Mollie
Miss Mollie has a new favored perch on the top of the sofa.  At 13 years old, she is still spry and delightful.  She only weighs in around 6 pounds ~ quite a difference from Thomas, but she still rules the roost most of the time!


Kitzy Kitty
Our other kitty, Kitzy (who was my Mom's kitty) is usually tucked away in my daughter's room.  Unfortunately, she and Miss Mollie have terrible fights if they encounter one another in the same room.  Which has led to a few more vet visits than we would like.  As a result, we keep them separated most of the time.  Sadly that means I rarely am able to capture a nice photo of her.  This one was taken a while back.  She's a sweetheart on her own, but so obstinate and nasty with the other cats!

Dried flowers
As the blooms dried and dropped from the crocus, paperwhites and orchids that bloomed throughout January, I saved them into a bowl.  Little bits of loveliness even in this delicate state!  It won't be long until the pots of hyacinths and daffodils that I potted and tucked away in the garage last fall will be ready to bring indoors from some early bits of spring!

Bumps River
While I was in Massachusetts with my Posie friends, I did a couple of watercolor sketches.  Di's lovely home sits on the Bumps River, a tidal river on Cape Cod.  This was done before storm Nemo moved in.

Garden Shed
After storm Nemo had left it's blanket of snow and moved on, I did this small sketch of Di's garden shed.

Posie Friends!
Here are the group of us that were able to make it.  Two of our friends were not able to make it in due to the storm, but the six of us that were able to get there had a fabulous time, despite the storm and a couple of days without power!  In truth, this group of women is one of life's biggest blessings!  We came together about 13-14 years ago through the old "Victoria" magazine website.  Our group name had it's origination in the saying, "Friends are the flowers in the garden of life".  When we first got together as a large group in 2001, most of us had never actually met one another other than online.  We try to gather for a long weekend every couple of years and there are smaller gatherings in between.

Today, there are ten of us who converse almost daily (and a couple of others who participate occasionally) sharing the ups and downs of life, supporting and encouraging one another through thick and thin.   I don't know what I would do without them!  So here is to Gail, Judi, Heidi, June, Shaun, Judy, Di, Val, Peggy, Maya and Amy ~ the best friends a gal could ever have!   You are a blessing!

15 February 2013

A Trip to Boston ~ The MFA

MFA - Boston
Last week I travelled to Massachusetts to spend some time with friends.  I arrived a few days early in order to visit some of the museums in Boston that I've long wanted to see!  I got a good taste of East Coast weather ~ including superstorm Nemo!  But more of that in a later post.  I ended up spending about a day and a half at the MFA, which I really loved!

MFA - Boston
The building has great open spaces and lovely little transition spaces between different parts of the building.  This enormous glass sculpture really set off this open area.  I had lunch here one day.

Daughters
Seeing the Sargent gallery was the highlight of the museum for me.  I'd seen the occasional John Singer Sargent painting before, and certainly seen numerous photos of the paintings here and there.  But to see them in person!!!  They leap to life and I found my self standing in front of them for the longest time.  And I returned again and again during my visit there.  I was completely unprepared for the impact they would have on me.  What a master he was!  From his incredible eye for composition, which follows few of the "usual" rules in art, to the amazing brushwork, achieving much detail in the simplest stroke of color, to the way his subjects look out from the paintings with such feeling.

Detail of Mrs. Inches
One of my favorites was this portrait of a Mrs. Inches.  It is so simple, yet full of life.  The circlet of diamonds around her neck sparkles from across the room as if the painting really had diamonds embedded within it, yet as you can see here, they are the merest dabs of paint.  And take a good look at the "whites" of her eyes.  Once again, from afar, they look sparkling and pure, but when examined up close they are actually painted a rather brilliant cerulean blue!

Mrs. Millet
Another favorite was this portrait of a Mrs. Millet.  My photo doesn't begin to do it justice.  The white gown was luminous and the lavender blue shawl danced with color.  She gazes out with such contentment as if caught in a happy moment of reverie.


Eleanor
There were fabulous paintings by other artists as well, such as this one called Eleanor by Frank Benson, one of America's premiere impressionist painters.  Somewhere in the family archives, we have a photograph of my Grandmother posed on porch in just this position, which always has reminded me of this painting.  I love the way he captured the light on her pale pink gown.

La Blanchisseuse
Another American Impressionist was Frederick Vinton Brown.  You can almost feel the warmth and sunlight against the cool of the water in this painting.

Detail of Waterlilies
Seeing the room full of European Impressionists was wonderful too.  I've always loved the way Monet captured light and how he used such abstract strokes to bring his scenes to life.  Looking at them up close, you can see the many layers of strokes and paint that build up to the final scene.  It's a big difference between Monet and the other painters who often put just a single stroke of color down, while Monet layered and layered his strokes, often obliterating the original work completely as he built it up color by color.

Cagnes-sur-Mer
Then it was on to some of the more modern art.  I felt that as one traversed the museum following the art chronologically, one could see the state of mankind evolving, here going from the dreamy idyllic world of the impressionists to a sharper, more angular, contorted world between the wars.  The idealism is gone and in it's place a bold new world arises.

Troubled Queen
Then to the bewildering work of Jackson Pollack around WWII.  To me it reads of chaos and uncertainty.

Julius and Friends
The 1960's arrive and with it a blankness as seen in this painting by Jules Olitski.  No direction.  Just color.  The narrative described it as having "a surface both dense and delicate, with subtle variations in hue that suggest deep space." To me, it is out of touch with reality somehow.  Perhaps I am too literal in my interpretation of art to appreciate it fully.

Chamonix
This one by Joan Mitchell is also from the 1960's.  Again, no representation, just a chaos of color and marks.  It speaks to me of a troubled mind, unable to quite find it's way into the real world.  Or maybe it is trying to escape from the reality of a troubled world.  But I find this one more reassuring than the blankness of Jules Olitski's painting.  At least this one seems to be looking for something, trying to represent something, even if it's not obvious to the viewer.

I find myself wondering if in a hundred years or two, people will stand in front of these with the same awe that I saw so many people have while viewing the paintings of John Singer Sargent or Van Gogh. Will they have a lasting quality to them?

I struggle with the current interpretation of what "Art" is.  Today's "art" seems bent on provoking a reaction, of "shocking" people in order to do so.  It is a mirror of what we see happening in our society.     Yet I believe most of this current style of art will eventually fade away, though some pieces will maintain a curiosity value and some will continue to intrigue.

Glass reflections
I enjoyed this installation of mirrored bottles and their endless reflections.  The appeal was a combination of whimsy, the elegance of the glass shapes, the depth of reflection, the way the reflections of juxtaposing shapes interacted with one another, the pleasing colors, in addition to the way no reflection from the room made it into the reflected depths.  A trick of one way mirrored glass I suspect, but intriguing none the less!

Geese on the MFA lawn
As I left the museum at last, the grass dotted with Canada Geese, I mulled over all that I had seen.  I marveled at the skill and vision of some truly amazing artists, the audacity of others, and came away with a renewed appreciation for the creative spirit and a strengthened desire to continue to learn and expand my own artistic abilities.

02 February 2013

Catching Up

Chickadee
Pardon the blog break.  I've been busy job hunting (no news to report yet despite many interviews and positive feedback, unfortunately); putting together a combined journal/photo album for my trip to Great Britain this past summer; and trying to change over from iPhoto to Lightroom, as I outgrew the capacity of iPhoto.  In the process, we discovered that my main computer had been hacked.  It still isn't fixed and I've lost access for the time being to my main photo library.  Thankfully, it is backed up and once we figure out how to rid it of the "bot" that worked it's way in, I'll be able to recover all of it, but until then, I'm sticking with the old "clean" laptop, which has none of my newer photos on it.

Red Breasted Nuthatch
From my study, I have a lovely view of the Aspen trees over one of the birdfeeders and it is a prime spot to photograph some of the visiting birds from!  The Chickadees (in the top photo) are my favorites.  So dainty the way they grab a seed, take it up to the branch to sit and eat.  Their feathers are so soft and furry looking!  The Red Breasted Nuthatches are busy little birds, coming in, grabbing a seed fast as they can and usually flying off with it.  I was lucky to catch this fellow sitting on the branch with his seed!  With that black band across the eyes, they look like little bandits!

Birdfeeder - Watercolor Sketch
I've had a little time to do some watercolors and sketches.

Front walkway in the Early Morning - Watercolor Sketch
This is my front walk, early one morning just after the sun came up.  Now the snow is mostly gone.  How glad I am to see the days getting longer!  It won't be long and spring will be upon us, but for now, I suspect we'll have to be patient and wait for winter to have it's full run, even though Puxatawny Phil has predicted an early spring!

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