A note to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Dear Museum of Fine Arts Boston,

Why is one of my favorite paintings hanging so high? And among a million other paintings in the same room. Why? And why is it crammed in a corner? Why, MFA?

I need the world’s most powerful binocular to see it.

The salon-style hang

I get it. You wanted to make the room look like a French salon, back in the day. Way back. A gazillion paintings hanging together in a big room with soaring ceilings. The salon-style hang.

The French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture started this in the 1600s to fit in all students’ work. (If you’re so inclined, everyone’s best friend, Google, can direct you to a more detailed history lesson.)

When London’s Royal Academy of Arts also did this in the 1700s, many artists were unhappy. They protested their work hanging so high that it was impossible to see. And worse, more prominent artists’ work hung at the bottom, while others were high up — “skied.”

Museum-of-Fine-Arts, Boston

Memories

I saw it close-up in 2006, at a special exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Breathtaking. Didn’t want to leave it and went back another day for a second viewing. I kept staring at the brush strokes, peering so close that the guards were on alert, hovering, watching me.

It’s a big 58 x 82 7/8 inch painting. (I do like to get lost in a huge painting, like this one.) In part because my work is small-ish and I have not yet painted on such a large scale.

Do I have a longing to make gigantic work of art? Yup. (Any day now.)

William Lamb Picknell

Who is this artist? He’s not well-known. I didn’t know who he was until my close encounter in 2006.

William Lamb Picknell was born in Vermont in 1853, and died in Massachusetts in 1897. A short life. The work I love so much is Morning on the Loing at Moret, painted in 1895, two years before his death.

Who knows why certain paintings leave lasting impressions on the viewer? It’s about the feeling. I remember staring at Picknell’s painting and imagining that I stood there on the banks of that river in France. Nothing else around me mattered for a few minutes. It was intoxicating. Enveloping. Not to mention, the brush strokes were outstanding.

Why is this magnificent masterpiece of his not in a room by itself for people to enjoy and admire. Why?

High and dry

It’s unlikely that I’ll have an intimate relationship ever again with the Picknell. But I’ll always remember our special time together.

The good news though is, MFA, that you hung this magnificent painting. It’s no longer hidden in your basement, or wherever you keep the art hidden away.

Which makes me ask, what else do you have stashed away? Do we need more rooms with salon-style hangs? Kidding.

Best,

Ani-signature

 

 

 


 

 

Love and the Art of a Light Fixture

After two years of searching for a house, we were either on the verge of giving up, or on the verge of lunacy. Whichever came first. Then we found our new place. It was move-in ready, so to speak. Not a hazmat-suit-requiring hell hole like some of the places we toured. The location was perfection. And the price was right (not counting the bidding war.)

The decor was contemporary, mostly from a store I can’t mention. Young affluent professional, Gen X style. Lovely. Coordinated, and most important of all, clean.

“It shows very well. They live like this all the time!” said the seller’s agent.

Some people like to see a place in it’s natural, lived in state when house hunting, especially if it’s not gross. Not me. I like empty rooms and bare walls. But I can envision a place empty regardless of the millions of personal snapshots on the walls. Which is what I did.

So we closed the deal and got the keys. The place was empty. Except for the elaborate light fixture in the open living/dining area, now dangling on top of nothing but a bare wood floor.

Light fixture included

The seller’s agent informed us that the departing couple left the fixture for us. A gesture. They could always get another for their new house. It was very nice of them, wasn’t it? Well, yes, quite nice, in fact.

The fixture was trendy and well-priced from a popular (again, sorry, can’t say) store.

It had to go

Mom said, “You have to get rid of that. It’s nice. But it’s not you.
Best friend said, “No. No. That’s not you.
Daughter said, “Ugh.”
Husband said, “It’s so nice, though.” Sigh.

So I went shopping

And bought a simple George Nelson Bubble lamp.

The electrician installed my new lamp. I was in love.

We still had the other one. What to do? Craigslist.

I dusted the fixture and placed it in the still-empty living room. It was better off with someone who would love to have it.

It’s a deal

The doorbell rang and a mid 40-something couple came up the stairs.

Woman, seeing the fixture waiting for her in the living room, “I’ve been looking for this for 3 months!
Man, counting money and handing it to me, “We drove two hours to get here.
Me, taking the cash, “So glad you like it.

Then the woman spotted my new George Nelson Bubble lamp. She glanced at what was now her fixture still sitting on the floor. She looked at me, and said, “Is THAT what you’re using?

And with that, the husband picked up their long-sought-after fixture and they left.

I’m talking about a couple of lamps, but am I really?

Love is unexplainable.
Love is passionate.
Love is personal.

And with that being said, I give you this.

White Chocolate Walnut Truffles

No matter what type of light fixture you like, this recipe will no doubt please you. (Unless of course you don’t love white chocolate or walnuts or a little booze in your dessert.)

These little bites of deliciousness take no time at all to make, 15-20 minutes, tops. Easy and yummy.

White Chocolate Walnut TrufflesIngredients

2 tablespoons heavy cream
3 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon butter
2 teaspoons bourbon or whiskey
3/4 cup walnuts (or pecans, if you prefer) finely chopped

In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. Remove the pan from the heat and add chocolate, stirring until it’s completely melted. Add the butter and stir mixture until smooth. Stir in bourbon and 1/4 cup of the nuts. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and chill, covered, for 4 hours or until firm.

Form small teaspoonfuls of the mixture into little balls. Roll bowls in the remaining nuts.

Chill until firm and store in refrigerator. Makes 18 to 20 small truffles.

Leave me a comment

Let me know if you made them.
Did you love them? Were they as easy as I claimed?
But most importantly, did you use walnuts or pecans?
Bourbon or whiskey?

Ani-signature

 


 

 

The Art of Storytelling

Tuck me in

When a child, hoping to prolong bedtime says, “Tell me a story!” a parent has to come up with something. The art of storytelling has to kick in. On the spot.

The-art-of-storytelling

Your child wants a bedtime story, but it’s hard to think of anything night after night. So you make up some outrageous tale. Nothing is too wacky. Anything goes. The weirder the better.

I know the scenario well. For my daughter, I invented people and got into character. Accents and all. They would visit and tell her stories. One of our favorites was an English couple, Hildegarde and Harold. It was entertaining for both of us. And gave me material for days, even months or years!

Inspiration

How did Hildegarde enter my head? Old British sitcoms we watched back then on PBS likely had something to do with it. Shows like Keeping up Appearances and Waiting for God. Thanks BBC!

The best part

Alas, my characters and their stories did not translate into bestsellers. But ending our days with cuddling and giggling? That was the best reward.

Imagination

The act or power of forming a mental image of something not present to the senses or never before wholly perceived in reality.” — definition from Merriam-Webster

Many famous books, and series of books are a result of parents’ storytelling antics. They’re not always told at bedtime, and all aren’t sweet, charming stories for children. Some are quite disturbing. Dark, even. But they have something in common — crazy amounts of imagination. Crazy.

Sweeter than honey

Winnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne

It’s easier to lose a thing, than to find it.” — Pooh

Is there anyone who doesn’t adore the story of a honey-loving, innocent, cuddly, sweet bear named Pooh, and his buddies? Milne based Winnie-the-Pooh on his son, Christopher Robin’s teddy bear, around 1925. The other characters, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and Roo were Christopher’s stuffed toys. These sweet, charming characters live on and have adventures in the Hundred Acre wood.

Mad as a hatter

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll (neé Charles Dodgson)

How do you know I’m mad,” said Alice.
You must be,” said the [Cheshire] Cat, “or you wouldn’t have come here.”

Is anything nuttier than Alice in Wonderland? (That’s a compliment.) I’m in wonderment (ha!) of such imagination. It started in 1862 as a story told to the three daughters of friends (one named Alice) while on a rowing trip. Yes. A rowing trip.

A name that promises imagination

Pippi Longstocking, by Astrid Lindgren

But I’m the strongest girl in the world, don’t forget.” — Pippi

The story was a request in the 1940s by Lindgren’s daughter who named the character herself. Pippi has red hair and freckles, an unusual personality, and superhuman strength. She is playful and capricious, and she doesn’t want to grow up. And, Pippi lives alone with her pet horse and monkey. Alone. Would this story publish today? Who knows.

A gentle giant

The BFG (Big Friendly Giant), by Roald Dahl.

The BFG settled himself comfortably in his chair and crossed his legs. “Dreams,” he said, “is very mysterious things. They is floating around in the air like little wispy-misty bubbles. And all the time they is searching for sleeping people.”

Roald Dahl wrote many extraordinary stories and this one from 1982 is no exception. The BFG is the story of a giant who captured dreams and kept them in bottles for children to enjoy while they slept. Dahl entertained his young daughters with the story. He even climbed on a ladder outside their window acting as the BFG to blow dreams through their window. Now that’s what I call an elaborate bedtime routine!

Going down the rabbit hole

Watership Down, by Richard Adams

Animals don’t behave like men,’  he said. ‘If they have to fight, they fight; and if they have to kill they kill. But they don’t sit down and set their wits to work to devise ways of spoiling other creatures’ lives and hurting them. They have dignity and animality.”

This is an epic, serious tale of a bunch of rabbits searching for a new home. Adams improvised the story during long car rides with his two young daughters. They later encouraged their father to write it all down. Completed in 18 months, and published in 1972, he dedicated the book to his two girls. But I wouldn’t call this a children’s story. Not at all. Watership Down, the rabbits’ destination, is a hill in England, near where the author grew up.

An elephant in the room

Babar, by Jean de Brunhoff

In 1931 Brunhoff’s wife, Cecile invented a story of an elephant in the jungle. After a hunter kills his mother, he goes to a big city. (Ugh. Horrible. Can you say, Bambi?) He meets An Old Lady (her official name) who gives him clothes, a place to live, and an education. A talking, sophisticated, upright (uptight?) elephant. Can you tell I’m not a fan of this story? Many aren’t. But I have to credit the Brunhoffs for their eccentric imagination.

Imagination and artistry

These two go together like pen and ink, pencil and paper, arts and letters, rise and shine, like … well, you get the gist.

As long as there’s imagination, there’s storytelling. Here are a few others. And I’m sure there are many more. And more to come. Always.

  • Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald
  • The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan
  • Thomas the Tank Engine, by Wilbert Awdry
  • Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling

Have you made up any crazy stories? Or have you listened to any? Do you have a favorite outrageous tale?

 


 

 

Pantone Greenery

(Thank you note to Pantone)

Pantone-Greenery

Fall 2016 Collection is now in the shop. Prints and originals available.

 

Dear Pantone,

Did you pick this year’s color, Greenery, just for me? I know you didn’t, but it sure feels like it.

Pantone, you’ve been a part of my life since art school, eons ago. So now, I’m always interested in the color you choose every year. Loved the orange a few years back! And that orchid in 2015. Gorgeous.

But this year is noteworthy.

Greenery. This glorious yellow-green shade appears in so many of my paintings. Especially in my Fall Collections. Where would I be without this color? How would my leaves come to life on paper?

My palettes are covered with variations of Greenery.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I LOVE all colors. ALL OF THEM. (Except maybe not when a dark brown appears instead of the gorgeous purple I was going for. Sh*t happens.)

Greenery. No color has made me happier or feel more productive.

So Pantone, thank you for this choice. For making 2017 the year that honors one of my favorite colors. A color I can’t be without. A color that helps bring my leaves to life.

Greenery is my forever color.

With thanks,
Ani-signature

 

 

 


 

 

Jungle Fever

When you’re looking for art, there’s only one thing to know. How does it make you feel?

New York City, December, 2010. It was a bitter cold Friday morning, and the last day of a 3-day trip. I had a couple of hours to kill before my bus home to Boston.

So I went to MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art.

I waited in line forever to check my bag and coat, then I took the elevator to start at the top. Because now there wasn’t much time.

The museum was packed. I wondered about, stopping here and there. And then I saw it. Henri Rousseau’s, “The Dream.”

It was like a movie scene when a person stands still and people move around in blurred fast motion. The person feels alone in the crowd. That was me. I don’t know how long I stood staring at the Rousseau. It’s a HUGE painting (almost 7 x 10 feet!) and I was lost in it.

Jungle fever

Flashback

Flashback to the painting studio in art school. I pictured myself in the clothes I used to wear. A classmate (Barbara?) was painting a jungle scene, à la Rousseau. My own painting was a portrait of a paper maché bird on a square canvas. (My preference of drawing and painting within squares must have started around then and I still paint birds.)

After art school, life happened —husband, jobs, children, house, housework, social life — did I mention children? All good and happy but I didn’t paint much. (My fault really because there are no excuses. If I wanted to, I would have. Sorry. I digress.) Paint dried up in unused tubes and my brushes collected dust. Sigh.

Right before that trip in 2010, I started painting again. Not much, but whenever I could squeeze it into the rest of my life.

Now it IS my life. (but that’s another blog post.)

Jungle Fever

Jungle sounds were playing in my head.

I identified with Rousseau painting “The Dream” a hundred years ago in 1910. (Wait. What? That sounds ridiculous. It’s Rousseau!)

I know what it’s like to have a blank canvas or a piece of paper and some paint, and an idea. And after a while, magic! There’s a painting or a drawing. That’s how I identified with Rousseau.

Had “The Dream” influenced me back then? Maybe. Probably. Definitely.

The charms of nature inspire me. I always seem to paint vegetation — leaves, flowers, and vegetables. Sometimes realistic and sometimes, not so much. Always nature in some form.

Earth to Ani

How long was I was standing there? Who knows, but human voices became clear around me as jungle sounds faded. It was almost time for my bus. I awakened from my “Dream.”

A matter of the art

Recently, a friend of mine told me she wanted to buy some art while on vacation. “How can I tell if the art is good?” she asked me.

At first I didn’t know how to answer her.  But then I remembered the Rousseau.

“Ask yourself,” I told her, “How does it make me feel?” And you’ll know.

And that friends, is all there is to it. It’s a matter of the heart. Or art.

 


 

It takes over 30 hours to make my bed.

A few days ago I had to leave the house by 8:00 AM for an appointment. For me this means I have to get up at the crack of dawn. (Okay, well, 6:00 AM. I need 2 hours of waking up time.) I was rushing around, running late (I hate you, SNOOZE button.) Since I always like to make the bed in the morning, I looked at the clock — 7:53 AM. Plenty of time. So I made the bed and glanced at the clock again — 7:57 AM. Done in 3-4 minutes. Not bad, with 3 minutes to spare.

This got me thinking.

Say I spend 4 minutes every day making the bed. That’s 28 minutes a week and 1,460 minutes a year. So how many hours is that? 24.3 hours.

And what about changing the bed? I want to sleep on clean sheets. So I added 10 minutes a week, calculating an extra 8.6 hours, bringing the yearly total to 32.9 -ish hours!

Yes. It takes over 30 hours to make my bed. What?

It’s a pretty simple queen bed setup. But still. Over 30 hours.

bed

I started thinking of other personal daily essentials that amount to big chunks of time.

• Walking an hour a day, 4-6 days a week, depending on weather: 208–312 hours a year
• Brushing and flossing, twice daily, total 6 minutes: 36.5 hours a year
• Showering, 5-7 minutes per day:  30–42 hours a year, and that doesn’t include blow drying.

(And there’s so much more. Well you know what I mean. All the things we do as humans. Wink.)

And that doesn’t include work. Which is a whole other discussion. (Can you say, Facebook?)

So now I’m scheming ways to steal time from myself.

Here’s a big one.

One of my arch enemies, winning battles against me, almost every day, is the SNOOZE button. Set for 10 minutes, I confess it defeats me at least 5 times a week. That’s over 43 hours a year. 43 hours! That’s a whole work week. With overtime.

I’ve tried. Really I have. No, really. But SNOOZE is tempting, powerful, and relentless. It’s addictive.

But now that I know nasty SNOOZE is robbing me of 43 hours, it’s time for me to win the battle.

From now on, SNOOZE, you lose.
I refuse to give you 43 hours.

 


 

Fannie Farmer

A remarkable entrepreneur

For years, I’ve baked the same marble cake recipe from an old Fannie Farmer paperback. Never thought much about it.

Until today.

Fannie Farmer

On January 7th, 1896, a revised, modern edition of The Boston Cooking School Cookbook published.

Fanny Farmer listed each ingredient separately, and instructed how to correctly measure everything. She used a scientific, precise method of measuring, never before used in recipes.

Imagine the amount of time required for recipe testing during this undertaking!

Her publisher, Little, Brown, and Company wasn’t convinced that the book would sell. So they asked Fannie Farmer to pay for the printing of 3000 copies. Self-publishing! This granted her copy rights, which was lucky, since the book was a huge success and made her quite wealthy.

The latest (13th) anniversary edition is still in bookstores.)

Some information about Fannie Farmer.

  • As a result of a stroke while still in high school, she wasn’t able to seek higher education
  • After recovering, she learned to cook and took over domestic duties of the household.
  • Later, she enrolled at The Boston Cooking School. Upon graduation in 1889, at age 32, she became Assistant Director.
  • At 37, she became Director of the Boston Cooking School
  • In 1896, at age 39, she tweaked and republished the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. Later she published several other cookbooks.
  • In 1902, she left to open her own school, Miss Farmer’s School of Cookery in Boston. The school trained housewives and nurses in cooking and was in business until 1944.
  • In 1905, she wrote articles for Woman’s Home Companion magazine, until her death in 1915.

Fannie Farmer didn’t let anything stop her.

She found something she loved and pursued it with passion. She wrote books, ran a school, opened another school, taught, and gave lectures. (TED talks of her day?) She was a cook, a baker, a writer, a businesswoman, and a publisher. Fannie Farmer was an entrepreneur. And all before 1915.

Despite another stroke near the end of her life, she continued to teach and lecture. Nothing stopped her.

And so I bake marble Cake. But from now on, it will be a little more special. I’ll think of the remarkable Fanny Farmer, and her many accomplishments.

 


 

 

Flowers in the attic.

Flowersintheattic

Utopia.

Bells on the front door welcomed customers into the tiny space. Cozy, with carpets layered on top of each other, covering and cushioning the floor. Inviting. Every inch of the small space devoted to showcasing jewelry and artifacts.

Not one empty spot.

Shallow glass cases displayed silver, gold, and enamel jewelry. There were bracelets, rings, necklaces, and pendants, some adorned with colorful semi-precious stones. Endless varieties from all over the world exploding with beauty and art and history.

A magical store like no other I’ve ever seen.

One look, or even two or three, was never enough to spot all the amazing and affordable treasures. Everything positioned close to each other with the surface of a shelf hardly showing. It was the perfect place to buy gifts, and I could never resist adding to my own collection. Most of the inventory was vintage, from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, and so on.

 

And now it’s gone. Closed. Just like that.

It was like a museum and store in one. Besides jewelry, there were vintage housewares. So many beautiful things to choose from! Among them, little silver spoons, antique etched glasses, vases, teacups, and linens.

Like Mary Poppins’ bottomless bag.

Except that it was a store. There was a mysterious back room hidden by a thick curtain, or maybe a rug, used as a curtain. Who knows what was back there. Maybe Iris Apfel was hiding out?

I once wanted to buy a pin. I looked in the cases. And looked again.

Then a little cardboard box appeared in front of me from somewhere behind the counter.

It was old and covered in a gold floral patterned paper. There was an assortment of pins inside, each in its own tiny plastic bag with it’s own tiny price tag attached. Nothing fancy and all under $10. I was in costume jewelry heaven.

There were velvet-lined trays upon trays of pins and rings and bracelets all sorted by type or era. I can close my eyes and picture their contents. Sigh.

 

Memories.

I visited the store many times with one of my closest friends. As old friends we have a comfortable banter. Think Lucy and Ethel. Laverne and Shirley. Tina and Amy. Thelma and Louise (well, maybe not them.)

We often amused the owner.

I’m sure he was especially happy since we always bought something. ALWAYS.

“Look at this bracelet. Try it on.”
“I LOVE that! You should get it.”
“Maybe. What else is there?” Oh look at this one!”
“Yeah. I don’t know. I like the other one better.”
“Look at this necklace. That would look great on you.”
“Yeah. But enough with those necklaces. I always wear that type. I should get something longer.”
“Did you see this one? Try it on.”
“What do you think? Um. Maybe. Not sure. Can I try it?”
“Remember that bracelet you got last time? This would look great with that.”
“Yeah, maybe. But I like this one …”
“I’m sorry. Could I just see that ring? NO. That one. Third one from the left.”
“That’s nice.”
“I LOVE that! Don’t you?”

And so on.

Sigh.

I’m going to miss that.

 

Premonition.

Just this week, my friend was visiting. I said to her, “You know that store will close some day. The guy is older and there doesn’t seem to be anyone to take over.” That was Monday. The store was never open on Mondays.

Tuesday, I went there to buy a gift and the store was gone.

Empty. Deserted. Sad.

All that beauty gone. Disappeared. No notice. No sign in the window. Nothing.

I was on the phone almost immediately.

“Hi. I have some terrible news.” [First I made sure she knew it wasn’t HORRIBLE. I didn’t want to scare her.]

“What? What’s the matter?”
“The store closed.”

She knew right away what I was talking about.

“You predicted it!”

Imagine the conversation, if you will. I’ll spare you the details of the cursing and carrying on. Oh. The drama.

“What are we going to do?”

There’s nothing similar.

Because it was not just a store. It was a place to make memories with a dear friend. A place to buy gifts for others. A place that inspired me for my own art. A place to learn about different types of jewelry. Even a museum could not have the variety of jewelry and artifacts crammed into such a small space.

 

Inquiries.

My friend called the store number. A recording something like this:

“We still have all our inventory. If you have an inquiry, please leave a message. We will have more information at the beginning of the year.”

Maybe there will be a new store. There’s hope.

In the meantime, where’s the inventory? Is all that glorious stock in a storage facility, or maybe in the basement, or in a spare bedroom? Is it in the attic?

 

Are the flowers in the attic?

 

The flower picture was taken a couple of months before closing. I’m so happy now to have it!

 


 

 

 

I’ve been dead wrong about Halloween.

halloween-birds

Halloween was fun when I was a kid. When my kids were little, Halloween was an adventure! Zany creativity took over the house. (But that’s not what I’m wrong about.)

Having an artist for a mother (me!) meant we made costumes.

A red monster with horns (a little red devil?), a wizard, and a cowboy. Several pirate versions, and a mad scientist with colorful bugs sewn on a lab coat, for my son. As for my daughter, witches, a cowgirl, a “fancy” lady, a hippie, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. All cute stuff.

Many involved sewing and in the case of the wizard, painting. First I made a robe with blue satin fabric. Then stayed up half the night painting moons and stars all over it. Let me tell you, blue satin fabric is NOT like canvas. Paint doesn’t want to stay on it.

To complicate things, I added glitter before the paint dried. There was a conical hat to top it off. Phew. I’m exhausted just writing about it. Did I mention that I was eight months pregnant?

Eight years later, Laura Ingalls Wilder wore a long skirt with a ruffled hem. And layers of petticoats. Enough said.

We set a special Halloween table and made Halloween desserts. We painted a face on a pumpkin or two. Carving isn’t my thing.

There was even a party or two. A haunted house in the hallway with black crepe paper hanging from the ceiling. The sounds of screaming and giggling girls. Skull-shaped pizza and ghost sugar cookies.

It was great fun!

 

Confession.

I stopped enjoying Halloween when my kids got older. Now I buy candy at the last minute. I never decorate. Maybe a tiny naked pumpkin on the porch. If I think of it. My dog barks every time the doorbell rings. Some children don’t even bother saying, “trick or treat.” Sure, many are adorable, with good manners. And that’s sweet. I love to see them in their costumes. It’s all about the kids and making them happy.

Isn’t it?

Halloween is now a “holiday.” But it’s not an official holiday. It’s business. People spend over seven billion dollars per year on costumes, candy, and decorations. Seven billion! Even dogs are dressing up now. (Not mine.)

All this time, I thought adults had taken over Halloween and made it into a “holiday.”

I was wrong. So wrong.

It’s the children who took over.

I googled to research this post. And learned that Halloween originates in Celtic paganism. The Celts believed that ghosts of the dead mingled with the living once a year. They offered treats and sacrifices so the dead would be happy and leave them alone. Creepy.

Fast forward a few hundred years.

More googling. Images this time. Vintage Halloween costumes. Adults (and children) dressed in the oddest and creepiest costumes I have ever seen. Strange scenes enough to give you nightmares. Copyright laws scare me too much (boo!) so that I’m not posting any of the images here. If you’re curious, google images of vintage Halloween costumes. But don’t do it right before bedtime.

I’m warning you.

 

bird-moon
I made some art for you.

Check out these three prints in the shop.
(Don’t worry. They won’t interfere with your sleep.)
Available for a limited time only.

 

 


 

Coconut crazy

Coconut seems to be everywhere lately.
It’s a fashionable flavor. An “it” ingredient.

Coconut crazy

Coconut oil, coconut milk, coconut water, coconut flour, and coconut flakes. There’s a lot of debate about its health benefits all over the internet. I say it’s not good to overdo anything. Moderation is the key for me.

Recently for a dinner party, I made dessert. But I wanted something more. Another taste.

And I wanted it to be coconut.

So I made a regular old vanilla pudding but I coconut-ized the hell out of it, with coconut milk and dried coconut. I didn’t know it would work, but I already had the baklava so it was worth the risk. I had no idea if coconut milk would be an adequate substitute for cow’s milk. It worked!

It was quick and easy to make. And everyone loved it. So if you’re coconut crazy, here’s the recipe.

Coconut pudding

adapted from an old McCall’s recipe, “Vanilla Blanc Mange,” circa 1965
(6 servings)
2 1/4 cups coconut milk
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup sugar (scant)
pinch salt
1/2 cup dried coconut flakes
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups coconut milk over low heat just until bubbles form around edge of pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, sugar and salt with remaining 1/4 cup coconut milk. Mix well.
3. Stir coconut flakes into hot milk. Then gradually stir in cornstarch mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, over low heat. Boil for 1 minute, stirring, until thickened.
4. Remove from heat and stir in extracts.

Pour into serving dishes or glasses. Let cool to room temperature and refrigerate until well chilled.
Garnish with berries or shaved chocolate. Enjoy!

(Next time, I may try rum instead of the extracts.)

 


 

How thinking about art made going to the dentist less unpleasant.

Is there anyone who enjoys going to the dentist for anything other than a cleaning?

Going-to-the-dentist

My sweet little Heidi looks “ferocious,” but she won’t be going to the dentist!

After the novocaine

I think of things to pass the time. I decorate, sketch a painting in my head, and write stories, which I’ll never remember even though I pretend I will. You get the idea. I try to distract myself and not focus on what’s going on inside my mouth. I try to block the awful noise of the drill.

In the middle of my recent, not-so-bad-this-time visit, I thought: Wait, my dentist is an artist. This is her art. Her artistry. Her creativity. She’s sculpting in there, choosing a shade to match the rest of my teeth, aligning my bite, and smoothing everything out. Her canvas is inside my mouth! Her dental implements are her “brushes,” and her assistant provides supplies in the office, which is her studio!

Silly? Maybe. Did it help pass the time and make the visit a little less uncomfortable? Yes. Whatever it takes.

After the final rinse

I told my dentist that she’s an artist. She agreed and was so happy! I meant it. Imagine if a dentist fixed a cavity or slapped on a crown and didn’t pay any attention to how it fit or matched the rest of your teeth. We don’t want Picasso’s cubist period in there. Definitely not.

So I’m thrilled that my dentist is an artist who pays attention to her craft.

 


 

 

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”

When an artist creates work and doesn’t show it, is it art?

If a tree falls in a forest

 

 

What good is art if the artist doesn’t share it?

  • A chef creates a delicious dish. What’s the point if the dish just sits on the table and no one eats it?
  • A writer writes a book. It’s not published and no one reads it. What’s the point?
  • A jeweler designs a gorgeous necklace and it’s never worn. That’s just sad.

If artists didn’t share, museums would be empty and there would be no galleries. Everything would be plain. Imagine every item of clothing plain. Every dish, every napkin, every rug, every chair, every truck, everything — plain. No jewelry, no high fashion, no movies, nothing. Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but you get the idea.

Boring.

Art is the artist’s gift to the world.

Picasso said, “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Children draw something. Anything. And are eager to show it off. They are proud of their creations.

Is it enough to remain an artist?

I’m lucky that art stayed with me. It’s the biggest part of me. And who I am.  But I make art and don’t always show it. Sure, friends see my artwork. Some of it. The pieces I choose to prop up on furniture around the house. But that’s about it. It’s time to change that. I’m not saying I’ll share everything. Hell no. There are many experiments in every studio, after all. No one wants to see the painting that turned to mud. Or the oil-painted flower cut in half because I was careless with my scissors. But sharing a curated collection. Definitely.

 

Art is a solitary profession, sometimes exasperating, but also often euphoric. Sharing when it brings the artist joy will bring others happiness as well.

Isn’t that the point?

 


 

 

 

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