Thursday, January 23, 2014

The first art dream of 2014

Ever since I was a kid, I would periodically have an art dream.  An idea that would burn itself into my waking mind.  These were incredibly frustrating as a kid because I knew without a doubt that I didn't possess the skills to make them real (not that's ever stopped me from trying).

Since growing up (and taking art classes), I've let me dreams inspire all sorts of art.  Though every now and then, I still have a dream I'm fairly certain I don't yet have the skill to make real.

Last night, I dreamed that I worked in an artist's commune.  Someone was letting their toddler run about, but not really paying their offspring any attention.  I gave him a clear milky plastic soda bottle full of water to play with and drink, as he was clearly thirsty.

Soda bottles were plentiful in the studio.  They were my primary media of choice.  I had discovered a way to paint with acrylic inside the bottle and build up the layers until there were small acrylic sculptures contained within the bottles, best viewed through the opening, as the sides were intentionally opaque.

The finished pieces could be filled with liquid and drunk from, revealing the sculpture within, or your could keep it empty.  It was a lot like looking through an incredible kaleidoscope.

As I was working my way through the base layers, building the colors contained within my current piece, the toddler had finished drinking his water and was exclaiming in wonder as he revealed the piece I'd finished within in.  He tapped my arm and wanted to show me.  Instead of telling him I already knew what was in it (after all, I'd made it), I gave him my full attention and looked when he wanted to share what he found so awesome with me.

And it really was.  Maybe it was seeing it through the excitement of his eyes.  Maybe it was because until I looked, I did't actually know what was in the bottle.  But when I did, It was brilliantly colored in blues, bright yellows, greens, with splashes of orange and purple, a peacock in the center and the colors fading out to the hazy white edges.

I woke up this morning knowing that this would take longer than a sketch.  It won't be a bottle with a fantastic layered sculpture within, but it's as close to capturing the feel of that piece as I can get in 2 dimensions and a single evening (:

Prints and other merchandise available here.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Your Writing Prompt, Should You Choose to Accept...

So my friend got a call last night from her desperate neighbor that someone had broken into her house.  When she got there, she found a broken window and the only item taken was her wedding dress.  As a professor with an incredible sense of humor, a great deal of personal strength, who grades an inordinate amount of writing,  she patched the window and today, issued the following writing prompt to her fb friends:

Writing prompt of the day: Your main character's house is broken into and the only thing that is missing is a wedding dress hanging in the spare bedroom closet.

And a request for short stories.

Now you can stop reading here (for now) if you're suddenly possessed with a burst of creativity and the need to accept the challenge!


Yes, I totally understand.  That's what happened to me.  I read her prompt, and embraced my "need to write  and accept this challenge NOW!"

I had no idea what I was going to write, but I ran with it.  And so here's the short story I sent to her, written in all of 12 minutes, slowed down only by my swyping speed:

For five years they'd been dating.  For five years she had smiled through the sentences that started, "My ex wife and I used to love..."  For five years she had smiled and looked along while his parents dragged her  through the photo albums of the fairy tale wedding.  For five years, she waited.

Tonight was supposed to be the night.  When his love would be her love and a shiny bauble would proclaim it to the world.  That she too was worthy of the fairy tale.  That she could make it a happily ever after.  That the photo album would be full of her.  Of them.  Of a marriage gone blissfully right.

He just had to drop off a box of things his ex wife wanted.  He'd meet her at their favorite restaurant at 7.  His ex just lived up the street.

He should have met her there at 7.  They should be drinking champagne and celebrating.  They should be starting this new chapter of their lives together.  Should.

But she'd just hung up the phone with the police.  There might have been a deer.  Or maybe the glare off the windshield.  They didn't really know.  It didn't matter.  He was dead.  Sprawled amongst the broken remains of his broken marriage, his ex wife crying on the scene.  His parents comforting her.

Gone.  The man. The dream. The fairytale.  And the fault of that bitch of an ex-wife.  Shadowing their future always.

Through her head flipped memories of the photo album of the wedding she would never had.  And in that moment, her mind cracked.

With broken dreams and a large rock she broke the window into the home she would never have, fingering the dress that harbored all those memories, all those fairytales.  As she fastened the last hook up the back, snugging the lace beneath her hands, she looked up in the mirror and thought, "It's finally mine."

She slunk out the window as carelessly as she entered, leaving just a small tatter hanging, unnoticed in her passing.

When they found her bloated body floating down river three days later, the ex-wife didn't want the dress back after all.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where Old Muppets Go To Count

Last night, I dreamed that the world was dark.  I stumbled with four companions I never really got to see, into what seemed like a small utility closet.

Inside, it was much like a gym locker room with long lockers in a row.  We found flashlights and candles and looked inside the lockers, discovering that we had stumbled upon a class B muppet retirement home.  Inside most of the lockers were muppet fruit and vegetables, a couple of muppet teeth, some of the secondary rats that never got a name, and the same for some of the background chickens that used to hang out with Camilla.

But in one locker, all by himself in the dark, was The Count.  He was the only muppet there who actually looked like he belonged in a retirement home.  He was largely balding, with orange sun spots and his hair, what was left of it, was a crazy shock of white.  Clearly he was suffering Alzheimer's.

Somehow, the conversation turned to vampires and so we decided to lay the lockers down, carefully clearing the muppets out of them, and using them and shadows to tell the stories of all the different kinds of vampires.  He laughed at the sparkly ones and thought that clever.  He recognized himself and joined in on the counting of all the fruits and vegetables, complete with his signature "Ah-ah-ha!" and lightning crashed.  But introducing him to the original concept of Dracula and "I vant to suck your blood!" agitated him and he started yelling that vampires would never do such a thing, and that pretty much brought an end to the vampires shadow muppet stories, as most of them include blood sucking.

So we'd reach a 'Now what?' moment.  You could almost hear the crickets starting to chirp....though that may have been a muppet cricket, now that I think back on it, as the candles started to burn down and the darkness started to come back.

We weren't afraid, we'd spent a lot of time of time in the dark and enjoyed this respite.  But now we had to decide-- do we continue moving on?  Do we try to take the muppets with us?  Do we leave them here, forgotten in their lockers?  Do we stay with them?  No one had any suggestions.  None of us felt strongly in any direction.  It's not like we were fleeing from anything or trying to hide from anything.  It's just that light had become a seriously rare thing.  It was literally a world marked by darkness.  And here had been a brief moment of light and laughter and wonder.

Fortunately, my alarm clock woke me up before the lack of conversation and silence could become overwhelming.  Darkness tends to breed silence. At least in this dream.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bacon Wrapped Scotch Eggs and Celtic Knot Turtles

So I was getting ready to make lunch before starting on my fourth pay it forward.  I asked if anyone wanted fried egg sandwiches and my husband said, "You know what I'd really like to try?...  Scotch Eggs!"

(Not that I want to give him the impression that I love him or anything, but) My husband doesn't make requests very often.  So I got the eggs boiling for making hard boiled eggs.  Let it reach a good roiling boil, covered them and turned the burner off.  He'd mentioned reading about one that was bacon wrapped with sausage.  We had the bacon, but alas, no sausage.  So off the the grocery store I went.  Came home with maple sausage in it's plastic tube.

They turned out so well, I figured I'd share this ridiculously easy recipe.

Bacon Wrapped Scotch Eggs

6 eggs, hardboiled and peeled
1 package of maple sausage, raw.  Divide into 6ths.
6 slices of bacon (we prefer the applewood smoked)

So clearly, you boil the eggs (We do the cover with water, put the lid on top, when it reaches a roiling boil, turn the burner offer and let it sit for 20 minutes-- the yolks don't turn green this way but are still thoroughly cooked.)  Preheat the oven to 350.  

After you peel the eggs, set them aside on a broiler pan.  Take each 6th of your sausage and flatten it into a a thin patty.  Place an egg on each one and basically form a sausage meatball around the egg.  Take a slice of bacon and 'lengthen' it-- just pinch it between your fingers going from one end to the other.  It'll basically double in length.  Then wrap it around your egg filled breakfast meatball.  Place them last seam of the bacon side down so it won't curl.

Bake for 30 minutes, broil for the last 5.  Make sure your sausage and bacon are thoroughly cooked and the broiling will make your bacon deliciously crispy.


Now I was all ready to start on my next Pay It Forward project.  This one is for my SCAdian friend Ashley.  Her persona leans towards the Gaelic and last summer, she was looking for a Celtic knotwork turtle necklace.

She's a tremendous fan of turtles.  So although knot work drives me a bit nutty, I decided that for her, I would make her her very own Celtic knotwork turtle.

"Celtic Knotwork Turtle".  9" x 12".  Prisma color and Acrylic on watercolor paper.

Prints and other merchandise available here.