Balancing painting, parenting, crafting and book loving one day at a time...

Balancing painting, parenting, crafting and book loving one day at a time...

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summer is here!

There is always a little bit of sadness that accompanies the end of school.  Even though it means the end of homework, the structure is gone, the friends are scattered, there are days to fill. 

So, at the end of every school year, our family makes a list of things to do, usually overly ambitious, which serves as sort of a guidepost for summer.  This year, my son remembers things we didn't do last year and complains about not doing them.  What he doesn't realize yet is that thinking and planning summer is almost as good as doing it.  The anticipation can be a happiness goal.

Speaking of sister sent me a book called The Happiness Project.  Originally begun as a blog, it turned into a best-selling book.  The author broke down her "happiness goals" by month.  Her categories were things such as decluttering, exercising, improving her marriage, improving her relationship with money as well as friends.  My sister wants to do her OWN happiness project with me,so I told her I'd go ahead and do it with her.  It's sort of like the idea of writing down what you eat when you go on a diet, you record things in a log or notebook and pay more attention to the little things.  It serves to clear the mind, in the same way that making New Year's resolutions does. 

The end of the school year/beginning of summer is as good a time as any to reflect on goals.  When each school year ends, I am more and more aware of time passing.  I start many more summers will I have with my 12 year old son?  Maybe we SHOULD take that cross-country trip that we always talked about.  My sister is doing this very thing.  She has 3 boys, age 13, 11 and 4.  Is there ever a perfect time?  No.  Will the 4 year old remember it?  Probably not.  But the older ones will. 

Her planning this trip helps to increase MY anticipation of our own possible cross country trip.  Which path should we take?  Which sites should we visit?  How far off the beaten path can we go?  What can we do that will be a memory that my kids can hold onto until THEIR kids are old enough to go? 

In closing I leave you with some items for our Summer "To Do" list:

play in the sprinkler
climb a tree
go crabbing

go strawberry or blueberry picking (can already cross that one off!)

water balloon fights (check)
creek walking (check)

grill outside
craft days (check)
art openings
catch a frog (check)

sparklers (check)
get muddy (check)
make a mosaic table
sleep in the backyard
watch for snakes (check)

watch movies from Mom and Dad's era (check)
make a pond
have a Star Wars movie viewing party
giant Nerf war
go swimming
put on a play
go to farmer's markets
eat cherries and peaches
stare into the sunset (check)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spring at Last!

Finally!  After months of endless, 100 year record breaking rain and cool weather, spring has finally arrived.

 e.e. cummings had alot to say on the subject of spring, but he says it best here in this poem:

In Just-
spring         when the world is mud-
luscious the little
lame balloonman

whistles        far     and wee

and eddieandbill come
running from marbles and
piracies and it's

when the world is puddle-wonderful

the queer
old balloonman whistles
far       and    wee
and bettyandisbel come dancing

from hop-scotch and jump-rope and



balloonMan           whistles

That about says it, no?  Anyway, spring is inspirational and I was in desperate need of inspiration after being cooped up all winter. 

I don't usually get to go to art openings but as my kids get older, I find I can drag them to some.  One in particular was at the Wall Eye Gallery in Cleveland, on the near West side.  A friend had a bunch of prints in the show, which was centered around the theme of bicycling.  There were bicycles hanging from the ceiling from all eras, plus bicycle-inspired artwork on the walls.  There was even a parking lot for cyclists!  Artwork ranged from photos, to fiber art, to tire prints, to paintings.  My daughter's favorite was an actual bike treated as an artwork in itself, decorated in Browns colors.  She loved it because she could touch it and ring the bell, which she did over and over in a room filled with people!  In the basement, someone had set up a virtual bike race, with two actual bikes on runners, hooked up to a computer that showed how fast you were riding.  You had to race your "opponent" and the clock.  Of course the kids loved this more than the art!  All in all, it was an interesting show and raised awareness of the "green" practice of biking over car riding.

Another wonderful show I saw recently was a collage show.  Collage can be done by anyone, and incorporates found objects re-purposed and made into art.  Sculpture, 2-D work and quilts were highlighted in the show.  Here are some of my favorites. 

The artists were:  Clare Murray Adams, Gail Crum, Shirley Ende-Saxe and Linda & Opie O'Brien.

Lastly, my book club and I went on a combined "art date" and "garden date."  An "art date" is when you take yourself out to art exhibits or openings to get inspired and excited about doing and seeing art.  Julia Cameron's excellent workbook for artists, called "The Artist's Way," suggests an art date every so often.  So we went to see the M.C. Escher show at the Akron Museum of Art.  It was quite crowded for a small regional art museum, but the exhibit is one of the only North American venues, so we were lucky to have it so close to us. 

It was interesting to see the process that Escher went through to make some of his most famous prints and drawings, but also fascinating to see HOW he got there.  Some of his earlier work is shown below.

 This woodcut reminds of a scene from Harry Potter!

Here's an Escher book plate.

 Above are and white and red horse tessellations, then a progressive one with bees turning into ducks, then fish.  This last one was horizontal and went almost all the way across the room, changing shapes as it went.

 They even had models that he used for his stairs that seemed to be going up and down at the same time. 

After that, we went to Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens, a 19th century estate with extensive gardens.  There was a wedding going on, which made for some nice views. 

One of my favorite places to take photos is on the Birch Allee. 

The irises, peonies and lupines were just in bloom, and lovely to see. 

 But my most favorite of all their gardens is the walled English garden.

 I call it the "Secret Garden" because it reminds me of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, one of my favorite children's books.  In fact, I loved it so much I even made an art quilt about it, complete with a book-like opening in the middle that showed the garden in it's various stages, from winter, to early spring, to full summer bloom.

Recently, a newly illustrated version of it was published with many, many gorgeous drawings in full color along with the complete story.  If you are a fan of this book, you don't want to miss this version with illustrations by Inga Moore.
I have my own garden too, and Memorial Day is one of it's peak times.  My favorite color is purple, so you see a lot of it in my garden.  Here you see purple allium (I call them puffballs), along with poppies and iris.  The poppies were supposed to be pink, but some of them came out an orange red.  Oh well! 

Here's an area with iris and clematis training on a trellis.  There's a cupid here too, that someday will spout into a pond, if I ever get it built.  Yea, someday! 
Back when my son was 7, he wanted a pond and couldn't wait for me to get around to it, so he took an orange juice gallon container and turned it on its side and filled it with water and surrounded it with rocks.  That was his "pond!" 

It just reminded me that I better put that pond in before he gets to old to enjoy it.  I have 5 more summers before he goes to college.  Better get digging!