nina colors

Gosh, I’m sorry I left so many people wondering what has happened to me over this past year.  I’ve gotten almost well, and am painting like a fiend, and teaching art.  Because this is the life I want, blogging is no longer important to me.

Many, many thanks to all the friends and visitors who have commented and supported me throughout this struggle.  It’s been a worthwhile fight:-)


Since there will be many posts closer to or on May 12, I am posting now to reflect on how devastating this illness is, how hundreds of thousands of people suffer silently, and how much COURAGE it takes to live like this — year after year after year after ……

I have had CFS for over 20 yrs, and altho I can now function normally on most days, I was recently made aware of how vulnerable our population is.  The state of Illinois is bankrupt, and funding for the free, books on tape service will end by August.  It was not long ago that I wasn’t able to read at all, and depended on this service for my very existence.  Altho my body was very sick, my mind still needed and wanted stimulation.  I’ve done the usual phone calls, letters and emails to state government officials, but I”m not sure they matter much when money is tight, and a huge population of people who cannot read for various reasons, is invisible.

I am not an eloquent wordsmith, so I leave you with a visual designed by the always visually eloquent Rachel Creative

This painting thing is NOT a 9 to 5 job; it’s much harder.  I had a “style” when I was very ill, dictated by the amount of time I could sit up, and by a roller-coaster of emotions that flowed out onto the page.

That structure/impetus is gone, and I have to push myself into heaven knows what.  It’s terrifying, frankly — and I have no desire to see what others are doing or what is popular.  I am trying many different things under the sun, and I have no idea when or if I will “land” on something that feels like mine.  I’ll stare at what I’ve done, and know that I have to push it further; I’m not satisfied.  But pushing it is risky.  For every painting that is “OK”, there are 5 more in the trash.  This is when I really regret the lost 20 years.

It’s actually time to submit an application to be in the August 2010 art fair here, and no way am I able to do that.  I can’t present myself to the public with a bit of this and a bit of that.

But I can show them to you:-)

Meanwhile, I trod the frozen shores and look within..

Since acrylic is just another form of plastic, pouring it down your drains is a no-no; yet many painters do it.  Here are two easy things to do that will make a difference.

First, use a few plates (disposable or not is up to you) as palettes, rotating them when you need a cleaner surface.  But the real trick is to paint white over them at the end of a painting session, so that you can keep using them again and again.

You can also use freezer paper from the grocery store (or the art store freezer paper palettes if you’re flush), and after a few layers of paint have built up, the acrylic will just peel off.  You can either throw this in the garbage or cut it up and use it as collage elements in another painting.

By far the worst problem is pouring our brush-cleaning jars of water + acrylic down the drain.  Bad for the plumbing; bad for the environment.  I leave the jars overnight so the paint solids settle to the bottom, then drain off the water in the morning, and pour the solids plus a bit of the water that’s left into a 5-gallon bucket (I use a huge kitty litter bucket w a handle but many building supplies come in these buckets) and when it’s full, I put it near the heat vent so the water will evaporate off.. In the summer, I put it out in the sun (altho you have to keep an eye out for rain).  When the water is gone, the paint will peel right out if it’s a plastic bucket.

Of course you need a second bucket to use while the first one is evaporating:-)  But these little effort are really worth it to keep our painting passion more earth-friendly.

I’d be interested in any other ideas you acrylic painters out there have for “green” painting. Please share!

Many “experts” say abstract painting should be able to hang up, down, or sideways.  I recently completed one, and would love to know what you think.

Here’s A  

and here’s B

Please let me know which you like better, or if it’s a toss-up!!

I was asked, and very gladly donated this collage to the 140hours auction to be held on Twitter on 1/29!  It’s the first twitter art auction, and it will be interesting to follow the action.  I’ve already given to doctors without borders, and they are one of the groups who will be receiving 100% of the proceeds of the auction.

All kinds of things will be up for bidding, and you may get lucky with some original art:-)  Check them out on twitter @140hours or their website 140hours.  It helps since I’m feeling so unable to help out in person.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has a tremendous online presence with “Ask Joan of Art”

I also subscribe to the museum’s blog because I like the succinct, yet in-depth way the information is presented.  Here’s a recent post:

“[William H.] Johnson hoped that his family, friends, and the town of Florence [South Carolina] would inspire him, giving his art a little more of the ‘peculiar rhythm’ and ‘directness of feeling’ that some of his severest critics felt were wanting in his works. These expectations were alluded to in a letter to Dr. George E. Haynes, written by Johnson after one month in Florence. ‘I am feeling around at something.’ Johnson told Haynes, ‘as I am surrounded by little Negro boys and girls, hoping to abstract something of their [—] and putting it on canvas.’ Although it is tempting to guess at what Johnson was suggesting in the empty space that followed his epistolary desire to ‘abstract something of’ African American youth, the answer perhaps rests in his Florence portraits. Jim, a portrait of Johnson’s sixteen-year-old brother, encapsulates much of what was left unsaid in Johnson’s half-voiced objective to paint Florence’s young, black citizens. A bifurcated background of black and ochre operates as a compositional anchor for the sitter, whose brown, russet and light green colors create a dreamy and lucid effect. The figure’s head and shoulders are not so much depictions of flesh and fabric as they are painted gestures of both the sitter’s and Johnson’s shared moods of anticipation and anxiety.

Study for Playground Scene, a drawing originally intended as a mural story for the Federal Art Project, reveals another side of Johnson’s homage to Harlem and urbanity: children’s culture in the inner city. Johnson’s outlined and geometric treatment of the children and their urban environment transforms this drawing into an animated scene of shifting circles, parallel bands and other linear configurations. Though incomplete, Playground Scene and other works by Johnson that examine urban child’s play convey an almost conceptual sense of city children and their activities.

Although Johnson had long been an avid supporter of encouraging children in the visual arts, his tenure at the Harlem Community Art Center formalized this advocacy, as it regularly exposed him to the direct, colorful statements of those budding artists. Child artists, like the one shown kneeling and drawing in the lower left corner of Playground Scene,fueled Johnson’s imagination and inspired him to continue pursuing a two-dimensional, non-illusionistic approach to painting.

The circa 1942–43 gouache, Lift Up Thy Voice and Sing is a strange mixture of African-American folklore and political commentary. The scene, showing eight black children singing under the direction of a chorale leader, with all of them standing in front of an inverted American flag, posed innumerable questions…. The answers to these questions can be found in Johnson’s evolving attitudes toward the contrasts between the conditions of African-American life and those of the rest of society…. Johnson’s use of the navy’s distress sign was double-edged: it is a comment both on the desperate battlefront situation and on the signs of distress and dissatisfaction among blacks on the domestic front. That Johnson’s black youth in this painting raise their voices and sing in the face of a crisis is, however, not so much absurd or satirical as a sign of hope, an affirmation of the human spirit. “

I received this story from a reader. The story is that a 5-yr-old girl who had been having epileptic seizures since she was 2 did not respond to medications and had to try surgery that removed the left hemisphere of her brain as well as the neurons connecting it to the right hemisphere.

Despite this, within just a few weeks after surgery, her speech, and motor skills (left hemisphere) had returned, and she soon went to kindergarten as expected.

Artists – please excuse this detour to my fascination w the brain.  Plasticity (the ability to change) is a gift from G-d, IMHO.

I have always been fascinated by the brain hemispheres and what they offer. I love this discussion by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuro-anatomist who had a one-hemisphere stroke, yet was able to watch and remember what was happening to her.

When I studied biology (in the bronze age), it was thought that only the liver could re-grow. That has all changed as we now hear from the scientist that the brain is much more “plastic” than we ever thought and can “re-grow” and also develop new “channels”.

Altho it has long been thought that people who were right-brained/left-handed were more creative, there is new research showing that it is actually the somewhat ambi-dexterous who can be the most creative. Whew! — there’s hope for me after all:-) If you want to read the actual article (it’s really not too scientific), it’s

I’d love to hear what you think about this subject and where you think you fit on the spectrum!

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