Passions of an Odd Chick

Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I told you I was wanting to sketch some cows. I bet you didn't expect this goofy little drawing. I saw these cute cows on a card and thought they would be fun to draw. Easy. My artist brain just defaulted to copy mode. I use to tell my kids all the time, "It takes so little to be above average in the work force" and I believe it. I'm just settling for average today, not taking myself too seriously, just having fun. I guess we all need days like that. But, as I get older I find it harder and harder to push and be disciplined about my goals. I'm not hungry enough I'm sure and not uncomfortable enough to sweat the hard work for the next level. "The throbbing vein will take you farther than any thinking" -Rumi. So tomorrow I refuse to take on the herd mentality of mediocrity. I will rise above this comfort level and stretch myself once again. When asked about the easy reads his books offered, Mark Twain said, "Great books are wine, mine are water - but everyone drinks water."
So I'll just have to enjoy my watered down art today.
But I don't want a mediocre life, love or art. What do you do to rise above the level of mediocrity?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The brain as a fashion statement

I've missed sketching and this afternoon after my company left and my work was done, I sat down for a sketch. I've been thinking a lot about this image. I thought what would we all look like if our brain was on the outside and we thought of it as a fashion statement. Would we care if it appeared to have any activity, lit up with new learning processes? Would we care that our receiving brain would light up when people would talk to us and we could prove that we were good listeners? Would we care when we ran in to depressed brains or learning-disabled brains? Or when we saw an elderly brain light up with activity when we offered a kind word? Would we be impressed with brilliant brains and treat them different than damaged brains? Would we care that our memory section was colorful or lacking? Would it help to see the angry brain and either avoid it or soothe it with peaceful conversation? Would we care that crummy foods we eat deplete the color and activity of our fashion brain?
I think our brain is the heart of who we are. "As a man thinketh so is he". Proverbs 23: 7. What would happen if our brain was visible? ( the sketch was digitally enhanced at flickr)

Friday, September 26, 2008

May I present my audience..

These darlings were on the left of me as I raked hay. I got out and shot about 50 reference photos so that I can paint some goats! They reminded me of the giraffes in Africa, they just kept looking at me and making me wonder what they were thinking.

I've enjoyed working the hay this year. I've told a lot of people and events "no" this summer so I could tell Greg "yes" if he needed me. Not only do I want him to see in my choices that he comes first, but I also know that our teamwork builds financial success and comforts for the both of us. I still get to play a lot - like on my right was a pen of dairy cows. I kept getting out and taking their picture too. They are very curious creatures and eventually walked right up and snorted on my camera to see what it was. I love how they collectively, walked closer and closer, only brave because they had the mob mentality. Like civil war soldiers who walked shoulder to shoulder to face their enemy. Except these guys weren't scared of me AT ALL.

They just had to see what I had in my hands. I'll give you 3 guesses about what I'll be sketching next. I got my hay raked before it was dry but I had a little fun with the animals too.

I wanted to show you the nose on my camera but blogspot says I can't download anymore. Just picture two wet, pink nostrils with slobber all around and you will get the idea. I was slimed in the end.

Farm life is a hoot.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Bird of Paradise ...lost

There I was, walking to my vehicle after working all day in a John Deere tractor. My head was down, my walk a little stiff, just thinking about what I had to do next. Brain dead. And there in the ground a little art - as if to say, "Made you LOOK!" One of those brilliant moments in an ordinary day to enjoy the little mystery surprise placed strategically in front of you to wake up your tired soul and quicken your spirit. Now the odd chick in me had to study for a minute. What gift had nature provided and why did this piece of art catch my eye? Well, I liked its unusual hard-edge contour, suspended in its crackeled frame. I liked the contrast of the white and the free form of the bird and proud posture and his expressive beak. I liked the primitive heiroglyphic form on a stone in the dirt. My own little art appreciation class.

Doesn't nature provide the best shapes, the best colors? Was it all given to refresh us, knowing that once we left the garden, our days would be hard and long and wearisome - and that we would need a little art to lift our spirits, a little bird of paradise to remind us to stay in the moment and to keep our minds awake to little gifts planted at our feet because we're too preoccupied or too tired to look up and look around. I believe the more little treasures we see, the more we are trusted with. I don't want to miss a thing. Do you?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sleazy Little Sketch

Please tell me you've done this before.

I was invited by a wonderful lady and friend to bring my art to hang and to sell in our local Starbucks. Yeah!! More about that story later. But anyway, I was the most agile there so I was helping to hang pictures when an older gentleman walked in that I barely know but admire as he is a community organizer for our local runs for charities. He is very tall and he offered to hang some of the harder to reach paintings for us. One of the gracious older women I was with said, "my husband is tall and it is so nice and he is so handy". Well, I wanted to say the same thing.. but I had to say something different.. so I said, "my husband is tall too, and I love it and you know what they say, ONCE YOU GO TALL, YOU NEVER GO SMALL". (now "they" do not say that! where did i get that I'm thinking, as I realize the sexual connotations, but it slips by with barely a notice and I hope no one is thinking in the gutter because I actually wasn't there this time....) But, I lean forward to help the guy because he's having trouble catching the wire on the nail and I had several choices: I could have said "have you got it?", or "is it hung yet", but it came out, "ARE YOU HUNG YET?" (What!!!!, i'm screaming to myself, knowing full well, no one would be crass twice without meaning it..). Thankfully, the sweet ladies beside me did not hear this- but the nice gentleman, with his back still to me, said, "you're just full of little quips", and I said weakly, "yeah, and I'm not even meaning to". (please believe me)... oh my. .. Now I wouldn't lead you to believe I'm above lewd comments because I've made my share but usually I've had a few too many beers and can blame it on the alcohol. But I was raised to be a lady and that's my goal for the most part. But incredibly as he goes to leave, and I muster as much graciousness as I can to redeem what is left of my character, I say, "thank you, YOU CAME RIGHT AT THE RIGHT TIME". When he raised his left eyebrow, I just gently turned him around with my hand and lead him toward the door. It was the only way I was going to stop embarrassing myself.

I sat down and said, "I need a drink", and then I remembered we were in a coffee shop, but this time, I REALLY meant something different!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Letting go...

This is my abstract version of a cornfield. It's funny this year but I'm having a hard time letting go of the cornfields and I just keep taking pictures and sketching like I'm never gonna see another one again. Go figure. It's probably because I've enjoyed them more than ever, either because of my art or because I'm getting older and realize the seasons of our life, just like the seasons of crops come and go and are quickly passing. And I want to hold on to things.
Speaking of holding on to things, today, at church, we heard a message on forgiveness. He said that our anger against someone who has really wounded us is sometimes like a ferocious hunger. It's like we've sat down at a big feast of scrumptious, high calorie foods laid out before us. We are the only ones there. And we begin to eat. We stuff our mouths, hardly chewing our food, grabbing this, snatching that...while it drips down our chin and off our elbows, taking more and more in, and we gorge and eat and feast on our powerful, hungry anger until we realize..... our own skull lays before us... and our own bones... and it is our own selves we have devoured. ...... .... And we were reminded that letting go of our anger toward someone who has hurt us will set us free from this bitter destruction. Forgiveness is not always forgetting, or even trusting again.... it's just letting go of the anger and resentment against that person for the wrong committed against us. It's staying in relationship one more day.
I can learn a lot of things about letting go from being in a cornfield... and being in a church.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Love After Love

It is my belief that unless you've learned to love yourself and value yourself as God loves you that you really cannot love someone else fully. Yet some think that love is the full sacrifice of our own love rather than our own life. We cannot teach or prove our love to anyone else until they can see we practice great love against our own selves.

So I say all that to present one of my favorite pieces of poetry called "Love After Love" by Derek Walcott.

The time will come

When, with elation

you will greet yourself arriving at your own door;

in your own mirror

And each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger

Who was your self.

Give wine, give bread. Give back your heart to itself,

the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored

for another,

who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.


Feast on your life.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Time to Sit Down

This was a fun sketch of one of my favorite chairs, then I collaged around it to add some interest. It really sits in my bathroom by my hot-tub. I like to sit there and talk to the Farmer while he takes a soak. But it's been awhile since we've had one of those hot-tub chats. Nobody has time to sit and soak these days or chat.....
We have been really busy on the farm. Old crops are going out and new crops are going in and we are on the 5th cutting of hay. My job (besides bookkeeper, housekeeper, cook, etc.) is to cut and rake the hay so my favorite farmer can bale it. Greg also is a seed distributor for other farmers and everybody wants seed right now.
Greg often wonders if we work extra hard and have more cash coming in - and more expenses going out - if we really are getting ahead or if we're just working for the cash flow. We buy bigger equipment so we can do the job faster so we can take on more contract work, so we can hire more people, and buy more equipment. He often says he'll be glad when he feels financially secure enough to sell everything and farm his own farm on one good little John Deere. Yet he was there before I met him.
I often wonder if we both fuel each other's fire when it comes to being driven to accomplish more and more. Now we have to schedule a date night just to spend quality time together.
So tonight I'm pouring us both a glass of wine and filling the hot-tub and slowing us both down for a good chat. That little chair is gonna get some use tonight for more than just a sketch.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Sacred Communication

This was a drawing exercise that I had to do for an art class last spring. It's a collage of various art pieces and photographs clipped from books and magazines and then I drew it with charcoal. If you visit my blog very often, you know the bowed head shows up in my art from time to time.

This is one of my Mom's favorites. I miss the color and I'm too lazy to make the pencil really sing with all the dimensions of black and white. But I do love the images. For me, it's a very spiritual piece of things I love like gravestones and moths, smooth stones, cathedral ceilings, plants, stars, moons, and mountains. And an old faithful face (Mother Teresa). And hands. Don't you just love a pair of old hands - except your own, maybe.

We started a new study today on "Prayer". I'm reminded by this old sketch I pulled out, and today's new lesson that I need to participate more in this sacred communication. It's my hope for change and understanding and direction. I would be a lost soul without it.

What keeps you centered?

Monday, September 15, 2008

Tres Hermanos

Many of you may remember when I took a day to take photographs of a beautiful herd of longhorns for reference photos. I finally took the time to sit down and draw and paint (watercolor) those bad boys I love so much.

I can't tell you how enjoyable and how terribly frightened at the same time I felt as I painted... two strong emotions fighting within me. One that said, "go on, honey.... you can do it" and one that said, "you'll never be able to capture a good image".

Well, I'd like to tell you that the more positive voice won out. After all, I finished. But actually, the struggle still remains as I view the finished painting. But there is something I won't cheat myself from. I know I am getting closer, so close now I can almost taste it... of getting to the style or standard of painting I have the good taste for.... and truly, that inner voice is the one speaking the loudest.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

This adorable young man is my son, Tucker.

Tucker may be young but he is an ole soul. A veteran. Not of any wars, but a courageous victor on the battlefield of Bipolar I. This insidious disease fought to steal his brilliant mind at the young age of 18, and nearly took his life a dozen times before he turned 23. But he never gave up and fought back and still fights. When the doctor's drugged him so much he couldn't drive, he got a bike. When he got too dizzy for a bike he walked. When the social worker said he was completely and totally disabled and would never work again, he proved them wrong - he worked. And he's been able to support himself totally in that last 5 years.

And it never mattered how sick he was... he went to church. He walked miles sometimes to be there but he was always there. Sometimes unkempt, unstable, fragile, prescription drugged - but he would always want to be with his church family. And they wanted to be with him. They knew his demons and many were/are comrades on his battlefield.
Even though 85% of people diagnosed with this disease abuse alcohol or drugs to self-medicate, Tucker has never used illegal substances (okay, he has a New Year's story or two). He's even quit smoking. It would be so easy for him to indulge in drugs that would calm his overly-active mind.

But I've never been as proud as I was of him today. Because today, Tucker's father who rejected him most of his life, and has completely rejected him since he was about 17 (Tucker's nearly 27), walked in the same restaurant we were eating our Sunday dinner. Tucker sat back and said carefully, "my dad just walked in". I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Do you think you could go over.... and shake his hand and say how are you?". Tucker looked sick, literally. In fact, he had to go to the restroom because he thought he was going to throw up. But when he walked out, he had a different countenance. He walked up to the man who has caused so much hurt and so many wounds, and shook his hand and spoke with kindness. Today Tucker was the bigger man. And it freed him as I knew it would, to step into the thing he feared the most (rejection) and conquer it. His dad did not embrace the moment, but I can't help but think that he, for once, had to be proud of the courage of his son and what it took to cross that barrier.

And Tucker learned that no one can really reject you if you value yourself.
Today, in Bible class Tucker made the comment, "For those of us who are all over the page emotionally, I can't act on what I "feel" because it's not always truth, I have to act on what I "KNOW". And the truths that Tucker knows stand him well. And it gives his ole mom comfort to know that no matter what happens, Tucker has a foundation of truth to rely on even when his physical and mental world are troubled, his spiritual reality protects him from all seen and unseen enemies.
He has a warrior's heart. And a beautiful, protected mind.

Friday, September 12, 2008


My dear husband doesn't think I should download any drawings or paintings on my blog unless it is my best work (he didn't like my giraffe). He doesn't get that it's a sketch, usually at night when I'm tired. I always wish they were better but if I only showed my best work I would never blog much at all with art. Don't get me wrong, he's very proud of my blog and has even been moved to tears at some posts and he is my greatest fan as far as my art goes. But, he won't let me get away with mediocre work and I'm glad about that.. he really helps me to be a better artist... always a better person. But sometimes, just drawing everyday and sharing it most days, along with my heart in words and stories, is the best artist I can be. It is what it is..... at least for today. And that's good enough for me... but I wonder, should it be?
I'm curious as to how others deal with creative work and perfectionism.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Today I wanted to draw something peaceful in my art journal on this September 11th. What a frightening day that was when human turned against human all in the name of God. And still it goes on... and on...

Sometimes, I think we act more like heartless beasts and it's the animals that have the right Spirit in them.

I think if I could be an animal, I would want to be a giraffe.

Did you know the giraffe is vegan, s/he never harms anything, unless you go after her baby. She's got a two-foot heart inside her that helps pump blood to the head she lowers and raises so quickly. Her padded knees are actually wrists. When I saw the giraffe in Africa, I noticed they always walk away, but they always look back and then they just look ..... and look as you look and look and it is the most amazing, breath-holding moment. And then when she walks away, she looks like a tree has been uprooted and is now walking out of the landscape, and even her shadow had grace. (a line from a Josh Groban song)

So that is why I love a giraffe and why when I want to think of something good and right and peaceful, her portrait was my pleasure. It's a small gesture, really, but it does make me feel better.
Oh, good and glorious giraffe,
I'd like to speak on your behalf.
It's clear that there are very few.
Who decorate the world like you.
Johannes Eff, 1969

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Stars are God's dreams and thoughts...

Ahh, this didn't translate well from my journal to my blog (too much star dust) but I tried to collage a concept, a quote from Thoreau : "The stars are God's dreams and thoughts remembered in the silence of the night".

This was inspired by some beautiful art that makes me want to look again and again. Check out Beyond Words for a view of fantastic visual journalling, very zen and healing and primitive. Also, Color Sweet Tooth - a man who does gleeful images like Glee2, and frogs, chickens, photographs...delightful, incredible, waterfalls of color and artistic genius. Though there are many other artist I visit, these stand out for me today.

I love a fantasy, abstract image or a primitive edgy image - even though they are both very different, they both provoke something basic in me that I wish I could describe. (she's looking, searching her little mind for the words..) OKAY...It's like those images turn hot brilliant lights on and liven up an area of my brain, like those heat-map MRI or CAT scan images you see in medical journals, or my invisible, electric burner on the stove. Or, maybe like the rush you feel after a good run, or a really good piece of chocolate after depriving yourself of sweets for days. Even though I've never done drugs - I can only describe it as a high or a heightened sixth sense... that I get from unusual, colorful, fantasy images..... oh dear, does that make sense to anyone but me?

ouuuuuuuu, sending that scary question out into the universe......and.........wait a minute............ I just got an answer...

God, the maker of the stars and all wondrous thought, said, "yeah, honey, it does".

So there.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.

This is a mixed-media piece that I added to my journal. Small slivers of cards, stickers, words and favorite stamps entertained me as I layered one after another between regular chores - just taking my time. So many people think art takes a lot of time and what they don't realize, what I'm learning to realize, is that art can be part of your everyday walk-around existence. I sketched a flower scene at a doctor's office while I waited for my father-in-law. Later, I dropped India ink onto the pages between loads of laundry and let them dry. I cut out cards that were laying on my bar waiting to be thrown away. I added the sequin taken off a wedding invitation. I painted with watercolor pencils between paying the bills and making lotions and creams. Stamping this, sponging that. Just walking by and thinking, "hmm, I could add this...", "maybe it needs that".

Hey, I have a novel idea (she says a little sarcastically)! How about let's not rush this week. Let's just add layers of interest and beauty to each life we touch. Let's walk by a soul and say, "hmm, I could add this...", "maybe, she/he needs that" and possibly the collage of goodness we've layered one on top of the other will produce something beautiful to send out into the world, and art will be more than just a hobby or profession, it will be a sacred practice.

Friday, September 5, 2008

An Early Odd Chick

This is probably the first picture that verifies that I am/was a very Odd Chick. I had the starring role as the ugly duckling in this performance and I can remember being very proud to play that role. (that's a duck bill on my head and I have an unseen feathery fluffly tail that I waggled at the audience at the end of my dance).

Odd Chicks don't just happen you know.

Nope, they are raised to believe they can be play ugly and love it.

They're taken to ballet classes, piano lessons, tennis lessons, dressed up for pictures, and generally doted over by a tribe of loving people.

They are taught that the world is a friendly place, that people are good, and that gratefulness is at the heart of everything in life.

They are provided not just the things they need, but most of what they want. They are cared for emotionally, and nurtured spiritually.

And when she had a passion for blue birds, she got bluebird books. And when she had a passion to sew, she got a sewing machine and all the material she could use to make short-suit sets for the summer. And when she collected piggy-banks- she had 3 shelves of them. And every passion is met with enthusiasm and applauded and encouraged.

She was raised with an abundance mentality - that love never runs out.

And when an Odd Chick grows up, she doesn't mind being odd because someone said she was unique and not like everybody else, and special. And proved it to her by their actions.

Love has never, ever run out in her life.

Thanks to all those that love an odd chick.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Old Classic

I took a short road trip with an elderly man the other day. He only calls me when he needs something. But that's okay, because I have lots of lessons I want to learn from him before he gets too tired to teach me.

I sketched this old 1939 classic at the shop where we waited.

And this elderly gentleman that waited with me...well he's also a classic. But he feels used up and un-valued. I expect he has never really felt any value in himself, ever. And now, without being able to produce something tangible...he dreads his days and they creep by slowly. He can see nothing but his own bland horizon, or sometimes the past from his rear-view mirror. He reminds me of those old rusted-out junkers that sit far back in some one's pasture.... and you wonder what their story could have been. I really hate that for him.

But, he's teaching me about growing old. And what maintenace and additives I use in these years to keep my engine running in my later ones. I know I won't be shiny and purring someday... like the steady, old red Lincoln I feel right now. I've already lost a lot of lustre. And I will someday lose most of my usefulness. But, if I continue to love others and learn something new everyday, I think there's a chance I could be a well-cared- for-shiny-old- classic sitting in a pretty showroom for all those who knew her, to come by and take a loving look. Yeah, she'll have a story or two. They'll admire her classic shine and remember her Sunday drives and road trips,... and how much fun they had with her, and wonder... if just maybe.... she's not up for one more joy ride.

What kind of classic would you like to be?

Monday, September 1, 2008

Races in the Rain

My husband and I went to the last races of the season at Ruidoso Downs. Though neither one of us enjoy gambling that much, we do like to watch the horses run. For me, the image of a horse straining with every fiber of his being to beat the horse in front of him is probably one of my most top favorite images of all times. However, I focused on the jockey this time. I have long put off drawing horses, in respect for my son-in-law who is a horseman and an artist, and my late grandfather. They would hate for me to draw a bad horse. A horse is just too beautiful to mess up.

I'm just glad to have gotten a half-way descent quick sketch of the day. My confidence has been lagging as of late, but nothing like the jockeys and horses must have felt as they ran around a wet and sloppy track in the rain. Van Gogh would say if voices tell you that you cannot paint, well then -paint, and silence the voices. Working through the fear and taking risk - I can't think of any other way to win the race.