Thursday, December 20, 2012

My December Nibblefest Art Contest Entry: 'The Mushroom...', by Emily Dickinson

It's the 20th of the month today!  And so, the Nibblefest Art Contest is upon us once again, with  the theme this month being 'Mushrooms'....:

My December Nibblefest entry entitled, 'The Mushroom", a tribute to Emily Dickinson

I do believe this "Mushrooms" theme was actually my own idea, from back in the Spring when the Nibblefest mods were requesting up and coming monthly theme suggestions for voting.  'Mushrooms' ended up winning the popular vote for December '12 in an online poll -- pretty cool.  So, it might have been reasonable to  assume, that with my suggestion of such a thing, I likely had at least SOME concept in my head at the time how I might want to approach it.  But you would be wrong, because I ended up JUST as stumped as usual this month, scratching my head with what had originally been my own suggestion in the first place....!  And so, as I've blogged about before, I reverted to my most favorite of all defaults in such situations: the looking to Music and Literature for my personal artistic inspiration (with Literature winning out this time around -- because really, just how many songs about mushrooms do you know, lol...?).

Contemplating 'mushrooms' in Literature, the first thing to pop into my head was, naturally, "Alice's Adventure's in Wonderland".  And indeed I was all set to go for that, maybe even as a little companion piece to my 'Cheshire Cat' from several months ago -- except a second idea 'sprang up' (pun intended) that I really couldn't resist.  A little poem, by that most prolific of writers of 19th century American verse, the venerable Emily Dickinson (with the fact that it was actually even her birthday a mere 10 days ago, her 182nd, seeming an especially good omen....): 

 A portrait of Emily Dickinson, 5" x 8.5"

The mushroom is the elf of plants,
At evening it is not;
At morning in a truffled hut
It stops upon a spot

As if it tarried always;
And yet its whole career
Is shorter than a snake’s delay,
And fleeter than a tare.

‘Tis vegetation’s juggler,
The germ of alibi;
Doth like a bubble antedate,
And like a bubble hie.

I feel as if the grass were pleased
To have it intermit;
The surreptitious scion
Of summer’s circumspect.

Had nature any outcast face,
Could she a son contemn,
Had nature an Iscariot,
That mushroom, 
– it is him.

--By Emily Dickinson


I love this playful little poem by Miss Emily DIt's wonderful to recite aloud (try it!), with its rhythm and cadence, and tongue-twisty wording -- all of which she was such a master of.  And no, I'm not going to pretend that I understand completely every word of it (I mean, please: "Tare"...?  "Hie"...?), but I surely get the gist.  A nature lover, it's her own wee ode to Nature's little 'elf', the mushroom -- with its sneaky and surprising way of popping up right up out of the ground, like it owns the place, seemingly from nowhere, and seemingly overnight.....
 My auction description: 

Miss Dickinson was herself as much an enigma as the mushroom she so poetically describes.  An expressive composer of over 1700 poems, she never actually received wide recognition within her lifetime.  An intensely private person, she instead became known more for her reclusiveness and penchant for wearing all white than she ever did for her writing.  It was only after her death, when her secret stash of poetry was discovered by a relative that the astonishing scope of her work was finally revealed.

Emily Dickinson never married nor had children, but she gave birth to a legacy of another kind:  an incredible body of poetic verse, that continues to speak to us today nearly two centuries later.  Thus I portray Miss Dickinson in this, my tribute portrait, in a dress of white, and cradling a mushroom, my own symbol for her vast poetic talent and productivity, as one might hold a child (with the first several lines of her lovely untitled 'Mushroom' poem handwritten above).....


To see ALL the great 'Mushroom'-themed Nibblefest Art Contest entries this month
(with each starting at just .99 cents!),
just click here....

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Belated 'Fall' Update....

A gorgeous Fall in the Midwest this year (the view down my street a few short months ago)

Time for an 'Art of Patience' Fall update (never mind that it's actually winter now, ahem) -- as usual I'm a little overdue for an update of any kind, but, no time like the present, as they say.  And so, because it's the most easy, if not the most fun (and probably the most interesting besides) let me do so by way of a few select random photographs.....

But first, just to get a little business out of the way....our next round of the The Nibblefest Art Contest begins in less than two days....!  The theme for December is 'Mushrooms', and I'm pleased to say I already have my entry all set and ready to go, w00t.  None of that last minute crunch time for me this go round.  Plus I'll be blogging about it too of course (and in a very calm and relaxed way, ahhh), so be sure to check back here on the 20th.  In the meantime, I put together and curated a fun little entry for the Nibblefest Blog introducing this month's 'Mushrooms' theme, featuring a number of pieces by Nibblefest Artists (including a wee something of mine), which can be read by clicking this.....

In any case, despite our terrible drought this past summer (or maybe because of it....?) I just found our Fall colors this year to be exceptionally gorgeous -- such a delight to step out my door to scenes like this:

Canopy of fall colors on my street

And this:

Striking red and green

So while it's all looong gone by now of course, it was lovely while it lasted (though once the fall color party was over, naturally we did have to RAKE it all)....

Halloween this year was pleasant and fun, and, since it has long been my tradition to make goofy, spooky-themed food in honor of the event, even though my kids are well into their teens by now (with one even out of the house), I can't resist sharing my 'ghostly' Shepherd's Pie (whereby the whipped potatoes were molded into little 'ghosts' (complete with carrot eyes and green pea mouths) rather than spread evenly in a layer over the top) -- tee hee....:

Happy Halloween!

It was a hit.... :-)

In other foodie news, this fall I made my first ever batch of this....:

This photo doesn't really do justice to the great quantity of Kraut here -- but trust me it's a lot! (3 large heads worth)

Homemade sauerkraut, people....!   

Heck, it turned out to be so darn easy (and yummy) to make I can't imagine whatever took so long to finally build up the courage to give it a whirl (and this despite my past successful experimental forays into making homemade Kim-Chi).  Well, needless to say it was (and is -- we are still eating on this batch) quite delicious, and, as a naturally fermented food, chock-full of super healthy pro-biotics and nutritious enzymes.  Good stuff...!

Other happenings going on lately Chez Patience include the private art classes I'm teaching, which have been going really well this semester.  Really enjoying my wonderful young students, and they've been producing some truly lovely work....

Including more Still Life....:

Still-Life Paintings of Pears

A Pretty Painted Green Pear

....some fun with Jackson Pollock style 'Splatter-and-Drip' paintings...,

'Splatter and Drip' Paintings

A slightly somewhat messy, but otherwise very fun, technique.... well as Self Portraits, our current ongoing student painting project:

Sketching the portraits....

....with mirrors for self-reference.

The sketching completed, they are now currently painting them.  Don't they look terrific so far....?

My art students' Self Portraits-in-Progress

In regards to my own children and their art, this update finds my son (of whom I've written about before here) continuing his studies at his ballet school, all the way across the country....:

My son in Arabesque

He's been working hard this semester and learning lots (and we're looking forward to a visit from him soon for his (all too brief) winter break)....

And because I can't very well post a picture one child without also posting a picture of the other, here's a snapshot of my daughter from a fun family kayaking excursion earlier this fall...:

Beautiful day/beautiful setting.  And as you can see we had the lake practically to ourselves!

Speaking of my daughter, she had a birthday this fall, which was celebrated by going to our favorite Mexican restaurant in town, during which she was forced to wear the requisite Birthday Sombrero, all while being serenaded by the wait staff (AS WELL AS enduring the smearing of a bit of her free birthday dessert onto her face).  Fun tradition, no...?  (can't say she was thrilled exactly, but happily she's a pretty good sport overall, lol)....

Birthday Girl

In still other kid news, we had the chance this fall to finally meet my adorable three-year-old niece, for the first time ever, when she came all the way over to the States with her folks for a visit from Hong Kong, where she and her parents live...:

Meet JunJun...!

 What a charmer!  Such a pleasure spending time with and getting to know her -- far too short a stay to be sure, but very sweet indeed (and we're still waiting for the chance to meet her one year old brother one day, who stayed behind for this trip (being such a long plane ride and all) -- hopefully next time!)....

Now, just a mention, since this IS an art blog, that my Nibblefest Art Contest entry from last month, "Mother Nature's Son" (the theme for Nov being 'Nature') received 2nd Place:

Yay!  A Big Thanks to all my bidders!

Plus, lastly, for fun I'll share here one of my latest ongoing art-related projects that I've been enjoying lately.   It's a horse head of all things, and of papier mache no less, though not actually one of my own.....:

An antique Papier Mache Horse Head -- how cool is that...?

No indeed.  Rather, I was contacted online by the owner of this gorgeous antique, which had unfortunately sustained some pretty serious damage over the years, including large cracks and even chunks of it falling off.....

Like, for instance, its ears....:

Both ears were completely off by the time it arrived to me

Plus plenty of cracks, as well as damage about its mouth and its base....


 'Would I be willing to restore it?', I was asked...

But of course.....!

Here his right ear is once more completely and securely reattached (with the left ear soon to follow)

 She sent it off to me, and I got to work....:

Stabilizing the loose, damaged areas, and filling in the many cracks....

I've been working on and off on it for several weeks now -- the days on end of overcast mist and rain that we've been getting here intermittently making for slow going at times (when the papier mache I'm applying to fix his damaged bits just simply will not dry).  Besides, no reason to do a rush job of it -- best to approach it with thought and care, and I have.  In any case, as soon as I have his damaged base all addressed (which should be soon), and all his various patches repainted and touched up to match his handsome patina, I'll take  'after' pictures.....

So that's my update for now -- check back here in a few days to see and read my Nibblefest Art Contest concept for 'Mushrooms'.....!