Saturday, September 3, 2016

30 Paintings in 30 Days September Challenge, Day 3: Leaves on the World Tree: Armenian Pomegranate Study

I'm enjoying getting to make these (:

Each day is a little bit of a surprise, because I made the initial research and pairings well over a month ago (of major ethnic group and a tree that has significant/ prominent meaning).

For today's painting, the next alphabetical selection is the Armenian Pomegranate.

I remember the first time I tasted pomegranate-- I was 12 years old in Heidelberg, Germany and Dad introduced us to them.

He liked to try all sorts of things that weren't necessarily readily available at the commissary in the 80s, and made us more food appreciative/ adventurous because of it.  He had this bright purple/red leathery ball on the counter, and he peeled it like a troublesome orange, filling the kitchen with a flowery smell more than a fruit.  We didn't have youtube and 10 second hacks back then, so he REALLY had to work for it to get to them out!

It was kind of like eating juicy, red popcorn seeds that burst in your mouth, were sort of sweet and definitely messy, and left us covered in sticky red juice.  To be honest, at 12, half the fun was the mess.

While continuing to play with my rainbow backgrounds, chosen for their symbolism as a world sign of creation, divinity, good luck, hope, potential, harmony, connection, balance and spirituality, I wanted to try to emulate tie dye today.

As it has for each of the last 3 days, the background takes at least 3 layers to color correctly... and my least favorite part is still waiting for the paint to dry (;

Then it was time to add the pomegranates.  I decided to go with seven, and that will likely feature prominently in each of the next pieces, as one more similarity between them, as seven represents spiritual awakening and the collective consciousness, part of the underlying goal of the studies.

Here's a close up on the third leaf on my world tree:

"Leaves on the World Tree: Armenian Pomegranate" Study
by Janin Wise
3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas


Writing Prompt: Something You Really Wanted, But Once You Got It, Didn't Want It Anymore

When I was ten, I adored my mother's makeup and nail polish.  When I was twelve, I got my own.

My mother gave me my first manicure...And as soon as she pushed my cuticles back and cut them, I knew she was also giving me my last one.

I wore my nail polish for three days.  I wore the makeup for three hours.

And in both, I had to remove them because it felt like I was smothering.  My skin couldn't breathe.  My nails couldn't breathe.  And both were WAY more effort for that kind of discomfort than I was willing to endure.  So I stopped using them both because neither were what I thought they were.

I still can't wear nail polish for more than a day, nor make up for more than a couple of hours, so I don't typically wear either.

(Clearly I have no choice but to use these, but it sort of fits, so I'm adding this):

When I was thirteen, I was the youngest kid in my grade and EVERY OTHER GIRL already had boobs.  I was afraid I'd never get any.

For six months, I would wake up in the morning, stand before my bedroom mirror sideways, and see if they'd started budding.  They hadn't.  And I'd say, "Dear God, if it's not too much to ask, please may I have some boobs.  Thank you."  For. Six. Months.

And then, they budded. And I'd say, "Dear God, thank you for letting me have breasts!  ...If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could they be a little bit bigger?"

And when they reached size B, "Dear God, Thank you so much!  These are prefect!"

And when they reached size C, "Dear God, thank you for your bountiful answer.  ...If it wouldn't be too much trouble, could this be enough?"

And when they reached DD, "Dear God, I get it.  I won't ask for body assistance any more.  Please, for the love of all that is holy, I've learned my lesson!"  And they finally stopped.

And I discovered that boobs weren't nearly as much fun as running used to be...And running hurt now.  It was not a fair trade off.

But it was an important lesson.

When I was sixteen, I saw these awesome, thigh high black leather boots at the mall.  They were $160.

I spent four months earning that through crap chores like emptying the rain gutters.

And when I went back, money in hand, I was certain it was fate because they were still there, waiting for me!

They were my size and I bought them and took them home, delighted.

But they pinched and rubbed my thighs, blistered my left heel...And kept sliding down to bunch around my calves.

I never wore them again, decided fashion wasn't worth comfort, and kept them in my closet for six -years- as a reminder not to waste money on whatever the latest "It" might be, if it wasn't also comfortable.

Friday, September 2, 2016

30 Painting in 30 Days Challenge September 2016, Day #2: Leaves on the World Tree, Arab Date Palm Study

I lay in bed tossing and turning into the early hours last night, too excited about painting and thinking to sleep.  Then when I did fall asleep, it wasn't restful.  I woke up exhausted, with a headache and serious case of "I don't wanna!"

But I got up anyway.

Ate some food, took some acetaminophen, my youngest son gave me an ice-pack to place on my neck (he's a sweet kiddo with the day off),  and I did anyway.

And I'm glad that I did.

Today's study is the Arabic Date Palm, as I'm working my way alphabetically through the current major ethnic groups in my Leaves on the World Tree study.

I'm still playing with my rainbow backgrounds-- today I decided to add pink to the other six colors, so that I'd have a total of seven divisions, towards the goal of collective consciousness, which is a primary theme for my Leaves on the World Tree project.

I decided I liked being able to see the brush strokes today, so I accented and left them.

When I was researching date palms, I remembered laying under the one we had in our yard with my boys when they were little, and looking up through the fronds.  So I decided today's view would be as though up through the tree trunk.

My favorite, handy dandy little 5/0 paintbrush busily at work (:
Then I painted the fronds, accenting them with the opposite color to their left and right, so that they would stand out against their primary background.  I then added four groups of dates-- green for the initial buds, yellow for barhi dates, red for deglet noor dates, and purple for medjool dates.  Each are in a bunch of 12, representing the zodiacs, the months of a year, as well as the cycle of experience towards a higher consciousness.

Arab Date Palm is the second leaf on my world tree.

"Leaves on the World Tree:  Arab Date Palm" Study
by Janin Wise
3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas


Writing Prompt: Can Video Games Teach Moral Lessons

If I can use my kids instead... And no one will tease me for how invested we got in a video game...

*spoiler alerts for the game Fable II if you ever wanted to, but haven't already played it, don't keep reading*

So one of the few video games I've ever completed has been the Fable trilogy.

I did the second game first.  My kids were too young to be coordinated enough for most of the play themselves, but they watched me play this game from beginning to end.

Throughout, you have to make choices.  Tough, fictitious choices.

When my character was in the tower, I had the choice to feed prisoners...or let them starve to death.  But you can only feed them so long because they're going to starve to death anyway.  And so my children watched for four minutes, while I let my character do nothing, and let the prisoners starve.  My youngest actually cried.  My oldest begged me to save them.  I showed them this part was couldn't actually save them.  But aloud, I promised that if it was ever really in my power to change this so it never happened to anyone else, I/ my character would.

At the end of the game, you are given three choices:  money; to bring back all those you love (and you've lost plenty of people you love); OR to bring back all the innocent people who died since the beginning of the game.

I wanted number 2.  My kids wanted number 2.  I mean REALLY wanted option #2.

I chose number 3.  And they cried out, "Why?  Why, Momma?!"

And with tears in all of our eyes, I reminded them about the tower...And my promise.

My character would go on in a world knowing she could have brought back both her sister and her dog...And didn't, because she kept her word.

When she truly had the ability to make sure it would never happen, not only again, but ever, she kept her word.

So yes, I believe that video games can teach moral lessons.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge, September 2016, Day #1: Leaves on the World Tree: The Albanian Olive Study

Today's blog actually begins with a dream I had back in June, so if you wish to read it, I've included it.  If not, you're welcome to scroll down to the pictures.

Tuesday 6.7.16

Last night I dreamed that I was at a reunion/ conference. I'd just finished taking an enameling workshop when we took a break for lunch.

In the cafeteria, I ran into my old boyfriend and the girl he dated after me, but we were all our current ages, with our current lives, so she and I were still close through the miracle of fb and I loved reading about her family and theatre adventures.

But we were both curious about him because he's not on fb and neither of us expected him to be here.
But he didn't talk about his present at all, he just reminisced about our combined college past and favorite performances by all three of us.

The subject turned to the first time they saw me on stage, climbing through a chair, and distinctly thinking I was 'interesting'. I was embarrassed and turned the conversation back to their own performances because they were both incredible actors, where I am not really an actor at all.
Then the conversation drifted to the present via the conference, and I showed them the four pieces I'd just made in enameling. One of the old ornery theatre professors had taken a golden pick to them and broken the surface of the fourth. It was irritating, but nothing that couldn't be fixed with the application of heat.

Then I noticed a good friend of mine cutting out pieces like puzzles. She was melting pearlized plastic into sheets she could cut shapes from, and was using the plastic to create modern wood-less marquetry. I loved the contrast of the purple and silver.

Then a new man we'd never seen before, with raven dark hair, emerald green eyes, a lovely tan, beautiful, even, white teeth, and a sexy vibe walked in. He made me nervous, not least of which because he was so attractive, but he also seemed interested in me, and that wasn't a good thing, because my family was at home, a twelve hour drive away.

He happened to be standing in front of the only magazine my friend and I needed, so I stepped forward with a polite but quiet "excuse me" and a head nod to both acknowledge his stepping aside and avoid eye contact.

I grabbed a copy then basically fled from the room with my friend. Once we were out of the cafeteria, we slowed down and I laughed, imagining what that must have looked like: nervous approach, deer like retreat, and practically running from the room.

We giggled at our foolishness, then opened the magazine. It was called "Con" and the cover featured maroon and black candy stripes fading to black background, with a close up on a porcelain fair woman, one-quarter turned to the left but looking directly out at the viewer, unsmiling, and knowing, wearing a white Elizabethan collar, and hot pink lipstick and eye makeup that was reminiscent of a scary, weeping clown, but so enthralling, you didn't want to look away.

It was supposed to tell you how to get into the convention scene, but when we turned the page, an ancient forest unfolded before us and when we stepped into it, it surrounded us, the reunion forgotten.
Before us in a clearing was an enormous tree, in a sorry state. Great branches were broken, others decayed, but the heart of the tree was still alive.

My friend stopped short, afraid to approach, but the tree called to me.

As I placed my hands in its rough bark, I knew it was a forgotten and abandoned World Tree. Despite my friend's protests, when a door opened into the tree, I entered and it closed behind me.

I spent my life clearing the lost, broken and dead civilizations from its branches, and made metallic steampunk supports to brace new developments. I couldn't remove the scars of war. But I tended the new shoots that sprouted under my watch with utmost care.

In my old age, I stepped out and away from the tree to see my work, and it shone like a living jewel before me.

I smiled as I lay at the roots, looking up into the sunlight, flitting through the leaves, and counted my life spent worthwhile. As I inhaled my last breath, the air was clean. And I closed my eyes content.
To open my eyes into reality and wonder, "What am -I- doing to help the world tree flourish?"

I'm still pondering it.


So we fast forward to two weeks ago when my friend Deanna asked me if I was going to participate in the Leslie Saeta 30 in 30 challenge, and I said "Sure!" to discover it was a happening all of two weeks later.  I remember how much fun I had the first time I participated in 2013, and thought it an excellent opportunity to get back to painting regularly (which, if you ask Leslie, is part of the point).

I've had a theme percolating in my mind since I had that dream, of an art project called "Leaves on the World Tree".  I also had twenty mini canvases sitting in my studio looking at me forlornly.  So I figured they'd make great little studies as I continue to work out the idea.

I'm pairing each of the current major ethnic groups (there are about 90 of them) with either the tree they claim as their national tree, or a tree they're known for.  I can already tell there are going to be some hard ones as I go along, as there are some places just not know for trees.  But they all have plant life, so I'll adjust as needed.

I started by priming my little boards.

Four layers and sanding later, and I was ready to start today's piece.

All of them are going to have rainbow colored backgrounds, as a world sign of creation, divinity, good luck, hope, potential, harmony, connection, balance and spirituality.  The mini canvases are giving me a chance to work on color techniques for the backgrounds, and placement for the vegetation.

The first thing I did this morning was try out saran wrap:

I learned a couple of things right here:

1.  It's been a while since I worked on canvas vs paper.  Canvas, especially gessoed canvas, does NOT absorb color the way paper does.
2.  I -love- the gentle subtle colors of this-- but not for this piece.  I don't want any white in the background for these, but I'll save this technique for other work later.
3.  My least favorite part of working on canvas is waiting for the paint to dry (lol).  Yes, I could blow dry it, but it moves the concentrations of the paint, and I didn't want it to do that.

So I added the next layer:

Darker!  Still not dark enough.  AND I've only got 1 day to complete this...  So this is also filed under "save this technique for later" because I really do love the way it's coming along.  But it won't work for today's project, so:

Because I need vibrant colors today!

Even made sure to get the sides, as I'm not used to having to paint any (;

Then I drew my basic shape and began adding my white with my 5/0 paintbrush:

This was where I discovered these are going to have to be studies and not the final pieces for what I have in my head, because I'll need to be working with a bigger medium to get the kind of detail I'm after.

And I'm okay with that (:

After a couple of layers of white so that it would stand out against the colors better.  But it's still not popping like I want, so it's not done.

I used the same little 5/0 brush to begin outlining some of the leaves in the opposite color from the background (ex. red and orange in the background purple, purple and blue in background red).  The first major ethnic group (I'm working alphabetically) is Albanian, and their tree is the olive.  In fact, the olive tree is thought to have originated in Albania.

I painted 7 olives, representing spiritual awakening and the collective consciousness.  Albanian olive is the first leaf on my world tree.

Here's a close up of the finished piece:

"Leaves on the World Tree: The Albanian Olive" Study
by Janin Wise
3" x 3" acrylic on mini canvas

Fevered Musings

Fevered Musings
by Janin Wise

I lay here feeling hot and tired
but sleep eludes me.

I'm as awake as the rain
pattering outside my window,
the weak half light filtering through.

I close my eyes
but the puddles intrude.

Against the backdrop of my eyelids
I watch great gobs of rain fall clear
into puddles turned purple red like blood
and splash beneath the yearling palms.

Gurgling, drowning, swimming...
Can palm trees swim?

The rain continues to fall
and a gold mask floats up
through the thick blood water
dislodged by so much moisture.

It's unseasonable
for this much rain in the desert.

And fevers make for nightmare musing.

30 Paintings in 30 Days Challenge

It's here!  Day 1 of the 30 in 30 Days Painting Challenge!

I participated the first time back in 2013, and ended up starting a brand new series!

The challenge is hosted by the artist Leslie Saeta, of Artists Helping Artists.  If you would like to participate, sign up here.

One of my favorite parts of the challenge is that it's incredibly low stress.  They don't have to be masterpieces, or great works, though they could be.  There's ONE rule.  One:  Have fun.

Looking forward to seeing what I end up creating in the next 30 days, and I hope you'll join me on my journey (:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Writing Prompt: Something You Had That Was Stolen

A Thief I Know, by Janin Wise

When I was nine, I lived with a thief.  And despite my mother being an otherwise good person, she was frequently in cahoots with him.

Beauregard outright frightened my mother's second husband.  (It didn't help that Beauregard hated him and made his feelings plain.)  Often, Keith bore wounds from their encounters.

But Beauregard liked me.

So much, in fact that he stole my stuffed ewok.  My mother made me let him have it.

When I turned ten, I got the huge two story Barbie dream house...But I pretended that Barbie lived in the penthouse apartment upstairs because Beauregard stole the bottom floor, and my mother made me let him have it.

That rotten cat would bring my ewok into his downstairs Barbie apartment and throw parties at all hours of the night if I didn't close my bedroom door!

I drew the line at Lemon Bear, the pale yellow teddy bear my mother got me to replace my ewok.

My mother drew the line at my cabbage patch doll, when Beauregard attempted to make her his 'special' friend.

And shortly after that, Beauregard had a quick trip to vet, walked funny for a couple of days, and settled down.

...He still got to keep my ewok and the first floor of my Barbie house though.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Writing Prompt: A Story That Begins With a Ransom Note

Strange Places by Janin Wise

Margery woke up disoriented, lost, in a cheap motel room.  She didn't recognize the trashy, sweat soaked clothes on her body.  Her mascara was run and her lipstick smudged.  The air smelled of mildew and urine.  And the bed beneath her was both lumpy and hard.

How did she get here?!?

She opened bleary eyes to a too bright sun filtering through threadbare curtains that were never in fashion.

A flutter out of the corner of her eye caught her attention:  a piece of crumpled paper was her only companion on that miserable bed.  Thank God!

When she opened it, all it said was, "This is your first warning.  $25,000 in small bills, behind Maria's, tomorrow at five, or you'll never see home again.  No cops."

She had been kidnapped!!

She staggered from the bed, slipping into the horrendous leopard print hooker heels that fit her feet, stumbled to the closet that serviced as a restroom in this dive, and put herself in order... Or at least as much as could be, considering.

On the end table by the bed were the car keys to her Porsche.

She stepped out of the motel into the scum side of the city...not that she'd ever been there before.  She pressed the button on the key and her car flashed twice like a firefly to tell her where it was.  She climbed behind the wheel and listened to the familiar purr of the engine.

As she drove home towards the upper east side, she shook her head like it was just some horrible dream.  Soon, she'd be home, burn this horrendous outfit, shower and wash it all from her memories.

As she pulled into the gated driveway of her mansion, she really wanted a cigarette to settle her nerves and reached into the glove box.

Inside was another crumpled piece of paper that simply said, "Second warning. $25,000, behind Maria's, 5 pm.  Or else."

Spooked, she crumpled it and threw it into the bushes on her way up the drive.

When she got home, she peeled the the filth from her skin, and burned it on the marble floor of the foyer.  She stood naked and watched it smolder.

When it was naught but a black smudge on her white floor, she turned and walked upstairs.

In her shower, she thought and planned.

She had $20,000 in the safe in her shoe closet.  And could easily get the remaining $5,000 from a quick trip to the bank.

It was only 2 pm.  Plenty of time.

But as she stood in her own shower, in her own home, and the stench washed away down the drain, she felt safe.



She could just as easily hire a body guard to keep her safe!

Some snot nosed kid probably spiked her drink at the party....dancing and drinking too much were her last clear memories.

She'd be damned if she kowtowed to a coward leaving notes!

Stepping from the shower, smiling to herself, she dried her hair... Then noticed the writing in the steam of the mirror:  "Third and final warning."

In a panic, she quickly dressed, rushed to the bank and withdrew $5,000, then drove home and opened her safe.

She put the cash in a black Herm├Ęs handbag, then glanced at her watch....It was already 4:00!

...And she had no idea where "Maria's" was!

Before she could panic, her body relaxed, and a sly smile crossed her lips.

She looked at herself in the mirror and smoothly, coldly, coyly said, "Thank you, Margery.  I couldn't remember the combination... and we never wrote that sort of thing down.  You had our body for the first thirty years.  Now it's MY turn!... Looks like you got to see 'home' again after all."

And Maria walked out with the ransom money firmly in hand.  Her first purchase would be another pair of those fabulous leopard heels.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Writing Prompt: Blue Object Thoughts, a short musing

Today's prompt: what a character holding a blue object is thinking right now
by Janin Wise

As Melissa stood at the foot of the bed holding the rumpled blue sheets she'd just pulled from it, after a week of tossing and turning and night sweats, she thought she could use a change.

Maybe a new hair cut.

Or fresh paint on the walls.

Maybe a vacation.

Or a new job.

But for now, she'd make due with fresh linen and clean sheet night.

Shortcut to Goblin City: A Fan Review

On Saturday, my guys took me to Shortcut to Goblin City, the member's appreciation night at the Atlanta Center for Puppetry Arts as an early birthday present, because I'm a huge The Labyrinth fan.

They gave us gift bags to make our own paper owl puppets, but we were so busy exploring the exhibits before the movie, we still haven't assembled them.  And then we entered the exhibit.

You can tell, even as you stand outside the main exhibit that this is going to be something special.  Something more.  And that it's about the work of two of my favorite artists-- Jim Henson and Brian Froud and their collaboration on The Labyrinth, was extra icing on the cake.

Walking in was like entering the actual labyrinth!  I stopped in the doorway, squeaking in excitement and practically bouncing.  Another fan who had just passed through the exhibit was right there and grinned so big at me, looking at her companion, nodding, and saying that she too had done the exact same thing when she entered.

I'm not going to share all of the pictures, nor even most of them (as I took almost 300), because I really do believe this is something you need to experience in person.  But I'm going to give you a taste of some of my favorite moments:

But there's so much MORE going on at the Center for Puppetry Arts!

To be honest, it was like walking into the worlds of my childhood (:

From The Dark Crystal:

And the Fraggles:

 To Sesame Street:

After exploring the exhibits, they put on a screen showing of the movie!  It didn't come to our local theatres when I was a kid, so this was the first time I'd ever seen it on the big screen, and to get to view it with other absolute fans was an beyond magical.  The entire experience is something I will truly treasure, and it's by far the best birthday present I've ever had.

If you're in the Atlanta area, definitely make a point to visit them.

The Labyrinth exhibit will only be on display for about a year, so this time 2017, you'll have missed the opportunity!

And that would not be fair (;

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Writing Prompt: A Houseplant is Dying

Today's prompt: A houseplant is dying. Tell it why it needs to live.
by Janin Wise

His older brother bought it for their mother for Christmas: A sad little palm tree in an ugly woven basket pot.

He had ordered it special.

But it didn't arrive in time for Christmas.  It was a couple of weeks late.

Hunting season was full under way by then.

An accident took him from them both.

And from his wife.

And from their son.

The funeral was devastating for them all, so close to the holidays.

And then that sad little palm tree in the ugly woven basket pot showed up.

The last thoughtful gift from a best beloved son, would been born of the love of her life.

Decades repotted, watered, by the window, but the same ugly woven basket pot, part of the original gift.

You are her last memory of the son she loved best.  You are part of what keeps her aged, frail body still in this world.

Her great grandchildren need her to tell her stories.  SHE needs to tell her stories.

You are one of her favorite.

And time passes, and age brings her, finally, to the sisters and husbands, but most importantly, the son, that she has all outlived.

Now, you are her living son's last memory of both his beloved older brother, and his mother.  Your leaves can't turn yellow and begin to become brittle...or their memories will become brittle and yellowed.

You are part of how they are still alive.

Without you....

Without you, he will have to live in a world where they are both truly gone.