By my calculation, my family has moved four times in the last nine years, and we are getting ready to do it again.
Let me just say the entire process is extremely stressful. ‘Back in the day’ as a single person, I moved plenty, but then it was just a matter of tossing a few sad pieces of furniture into a friend’s pickup truck, and finding a new apartment. Moving with a family has multiple moving parts. Add in selling and/or buying a house and you have a whole new stress level.
It’s hard to say whether myself, or my husband is more high-strung throughout this process. We seem to take turns. However, we’ve been blessed with a Real Estate agent who manages to talk us down off the ceiling periodically.
I wonder is it the great unknown that causes all the anxiety? The what ifs which normally thrill me as a writer, are enough to make me become unglued as the head of this moving project.
As for my writing, it has taken the proverbial backseat yet again, while I sort out all the details of this move.
I feel badly for my children who would rather be enjoying a fun-filled summer and are instead stuck with me negotiating with contractors and cleaning out closets.
I am aiming for a bird-like a philosophy. Birds build new nests regularly. I found this article about Robins, www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/BuildNest.html stating that they may build between 20 and 30 nests over the course of a lifetime. Birds go through a whole process in selecting a suitable site for their nests, collecting materials and putting the structure together with their beaks as their only tools.
Perhaps I needed reflection on this today, humbled by my feathery, woodland friends. Or maybe, moving is truly for the birds!
Thanks for reading and I know I am behind on Artistic in the District. There is more good to come as soon as I smooth out my ruffled feathers!
I have always been passionate about art. Unfortunately, when the almighty was handing out gifts, my bag was light on artistic talent but heavy on the creative writing side. No matter, I can still appreciate what I have and what I see.
And when an artist creates something exceptional from something very ordinary or even ugly, it is clear to me that beauty is all around us just waiting for us to see it with a fresh perspective.
Ordinary items, re-purposed, become works of art, simply by combining them, changes the shape, size and scale of the original singular item into something new. The way a sculpture catches the light, the way it calls your eye to move around it, is all part of the exchange between artist and viewer.
Color, perspective, shadow and light, these elements play and dance around objects and human subjects, creating a scene which only lasts a second. Blink and you will miss it.
On the shoreline, waves take fractured tile bits, turning them until the edges are soft and smooth as stone. Found again by a beach comber who crafts them into stunning mosaics, tabletops and wall designs.
A sunrise, a flower, a mountain range, it is easy to see the beauty nature provides. Man has to work a little harder to compete, but I think we do just fine. With imagination, talent, gifts, resources, and place combined we create!
Nadia was no bar fly, but her roommate Tina fit the profile.
Friday nights at Joe’s Tiki bar in Miami, Tina would routinely perch on the edge of a bar stool, pitching forward, revealing her substantial cleavage, while flipping her false blonde locks at some unsuspecting fool. The dim torchlight masked the pockmarked skin and smoke-stained smile that would cause men to recoil in daylight. Nevertheless, some always sought her sort of promiscuity.
In front of the bathroom mirror in the apartment she shared with Tina, Nadia absently brushed her resplendent black hair. “I’m just not up for the bar scene tonight, T. I think I’ll stay in.”
“For cripes sake Nod, you’ll never get a boyfriend hiding in the apartment.”
I wouldn’t call your one-night playthings boyfriends, Nadia thought.“I’m tired, she said, “and I’m just not…like you, T.”
Nadia dreaded the sounds of Tina’s nightly entertainment reverberating through the thin walls. As a mid-year transfer to The University of Miami, limited housing options had led to her current residence, but as the new school year approached, she had already begun apartment hunting.
“I know,” said Tina, with her hands on her hips, “I get it. You’re not outgoing. But I can show you how to get noticed.”
What if I don’t want that kind of attention? Nadia thought looking her roommate up and down. Tina’s reptile-print, tube dress, reminded Nadia of a nature program where an anaconda swallowed a Cayman whole.
“Come on, Nod,” Tina pleaded. “You know I hate going out alone.”
“Well, I guess it couldn’t hurt,” Nadia said applying pale pink lip-gloss to her full lips. Brushing mascara on her generous lashes, she accented her chocolate-brown eyes. She dusted her cheeks with blush, although her flawless, olive skin required nothing. After adjusting the straps of her stunning black sun dress, she slipped on low sandals.
“I’m ready,” Nadia said.
“Show some skin!” Tina bellowed. “Look at me!”
Nadia resisted saying what she was thinking and instead picked up her purse and followed Tina out the door. As they walked two blocks to the Bar, Tina gulped down a liquored concoction from a large, plastic cup while Nadia looked up at the starlit sky, wishing on each burning light.
“Look out boys,” Tina snorted, “here comes trouble with a capital T!”
Steamy nights meant full club capacity with customers spilling into the streets. Jimmy Buffet’s vocals filled the acrid air. Navigating through a blur of Hawaiian shirts and scanty dresses, Nadia reached the bar, but Tina had slipped away, having found her evening’s mark, she was jigging and singing, “Wasted away again in Margaritaville.”
Moments later with a pink, frozen drink in hand, Nadia slipped to the upper deck, away from the crowd to survey it from a distance. She rested her cup on the deck rail thinking, there must be a better way.
A couple staggering toward the stairs bumped the rail sending Nadia’s drink toppling over. She reached up too late to retrieve it. A waterfall of pink slush landed squarely on a young man below.
“I’m so sorry!” Nadia called down, her long hair waving in the breeze.
Dumbfounded, the man looked up. The right shoulder of his white shirt soggy with the pink mixture, he flashed Nadia a brilliant smile.
“Where I come from,” he said, “its good luck when a beautiful woman spills her drink on you. So, if you don’t let me buy you another, I’ll be ruined. What do you say?”
“Is that really true?” she asked walking down the stairs toward him.
“No,” he said, looking into her eyes. He took her hand on the last stair. “I’m Santo,” he said. His eyes remained fixed on hers. He wore his dark hair on the long side and the now wet shirt showed off his fit physique.
“I’m Nadia,” she said.
“Well Nadia, I wish it was true. But one look into your eyes tells me I could never tell you a lie.”
“Then, I say yes,” she smiled and that was how Nadia met her future husband.
As I’m running in circles this week trying to prepare for my second of three book fairs tomorrow at the Calvert library in Prince Frederick, Maryland, events.html this will be brief! It’s a quick photo essay of my more artistic pictures. I’ve also begun adding cute sayings to some curious photos and some quiz photo’s about Secret Agent of God on my Facebook page. If you are into that sort of thing feel free to Like it. Here’s a preview of some of my photo’s, which total over 5,000. I had to think of something to do with them, didn’t I?
A good photo should elicit some feeling in the viewer, don’t you think? I often wish my eyes could be the camera. I don’t really care to see the world through the lens of a device. It takes something away from the image somehow.
I think what makes a person respond to a photo has as much to with the person as it does the photograph. Our personal view of the world, our experiences, our mood are all factors in how we view what we view.
Each of these photos could be a story prompt. This is what I think when I look at pictures. A single snapshot in time is only part if the story. What else is there? What if? What other? Who was there and what were they doing? Then what happened? Where were they going and why? Who did they meet? Were they running away from something or someone? Or running to something or someone?
Portrait Artist Melissa Marie Haney has a special gift for capturing the spirit of her subjects. The evidence is in the eyes, because after all “the eye is the window of the soul,” ─Hiram Powers, American sculptor (1805 – 1873)
“Art was an outlet for all the feelings that I could not express vocally,” Melissa says. “As I have aged, so has my Art. I am self-taught, so I tend to just go with my instincts and ‘eye’ (about) what I think looks good and what works. Hopefully, others will like what I do and get some enjoyment from it.”
It is easy to see how Melissa’s subjects capture her interest and her heart.
When I went looking for artists to interview, I did not need to look further than my circle of friends. I have known Melissa since our school days but only discovered her artistic talents when we became Facebook friends.
Melissa began drawing when she was a child. A shy, young girl, Melissa recalls, “animals were my refuge. Ponies, dogs, cats, just about any animal was my friend. I still have pictures I drew as a child. I have always had animals of some kind. Animals touch everyone at some level.”
Using a range of mediums,”acrylics, oils, watercolors, and mixed medium are all options,” she says, “it all depends on the subject and what (fascinates me) at the time. I tend to just go with my feelings on which medium will work with the subject.”
“Painting is a cathartic ritual for me. It is a stress relief, and a quiet peace from all the chaos. When I am painting, I tune everything else out, and (am) in my own little world for a time.” ─Melissa Haney
Although Melissa occasionally sells her painting at fairs and markets in the Mid-West, most of her clients come via word of mouth. If you would like more information on her commissioned portraits, please follow the link to her Facebook page. Melissa’s Facebook Artist Page
If you have ever dreamed of becoming an artist, it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Creating art is a wonderful hobby even if it never consumes your life, it can enhance your daily existence.
As a former account executive, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer, I know all about second acts and third acts. Actually, I’m still juggling all three, but this is the female dilemma. We pick up new jobs but never put any down.
A woman with a gift for juggling:
As I often ‘struggle with the juggle’ and drop the pins more often than I care to admit, I am forever in awe of my girlfriends who make ‘doing it all’ look so effortless, like my dear friend, Lisa Deiranieh. Lisa, a native of Southern California often says “God put us on opposite sides of the country because he feared what would happen if we ever got together.” Well, God must have averted his eyes long enough for us to simultaneously end up in Naples, Italy, at least for a spell. We had some good times, struggling to speak Italian (only me!) and some amazing day trip adventures where we literally stuck a pin in the map and went off in search of what was there.
Heading home with heavy heart:
I caught Lisa in the process of packing out to leave Naples, but she was gracious enough to fit in a quick interview first. Lisa, a Senior Staff Sonographer at US Navy Hospital Naples, Italy and full-time wife and mother of two is also an artist. Three years ago, Lisa’s husband, Dave, gave her the gift of lifetime, painting lessons with “Gigi”, Luigi Wanvestraut, a well-known Neapolitan artist.
The lessons were only supposed to last a few weeks, but as we spoke, Lisa was fixing dinner and preparing to go paint at the studio, still under Gigi’s guidance. Over the past three years Lisa has painted almost a dozen paintings. Which is amazing considering each one takes between thirty and forty hours to create. She paints with oil, which requires a longer curing time and a process involving layers of paint often applied with a spatula. Planning out your design is necessary but the result is a three-dimensional work of art.
“I want to learn the physical properties of how to make something look real,” Lisa says. Although very different from her day job, Lisa’s background working with patients in the hospital and sonographic imagery may help her to see things differently and in way that she is able to translate beautifully onto the canvas.
“I think…how can I do this?” she says. Learning Gigi’s painting technique, Lisa studies how objects appear in space as circles or squares as well as the spaces around them. “It begins with a sketch and then you layer in, dark and light and then hone in on your subject,” she says.
As if living in Italy is not inspiration enough! Next to painting, Lisa, Dave and their two children have traveled as much and as often as possible throughout Europe and the Middle East. Inspired by a poster she saw in Ronda, Spain, Lisa created this painting of a bull and bullfighter.
She especially admires artists from the 1930’s and the work of the Italian masters seen at the Capodimonte Museum. Lisa’s other passions are cooking and wine! She has taken cooking classes in Tuscany with friends on multiple occasions and loves to share what she has learned.
Together we enjoyed many meals and glasses of exceptional Italian wine. I look forward to the return of family Deiranieh, when we will at least be on the same continent and in a slightly nearer timezone.
At present Lisa’s artwork is not for sale, but she is considering selling prints or giclées, a process of digitally scanning original paintings and printing them onto canvas. “I can’t sell them. I’m too attached to them,” Lisa says. “They’re my babies!”
I thank you for reading and wish you all the best of luck in discovering your own second acts!
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Emilee Williams, a very intriguing graphite artist, born in Guatemala, and now living in Maryland.
An artists resume:
Emilee’s artwork has appeared at the Annapolis Mall, the Anne Arundel County Library, at Barnes & Noble and at the Salem Avery House Museum in Shady Side Maryland, where Emilee says she finds inspiration. She also contributed to a snowflake project for the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall in Baltimore.
Emilee was most excited about her very first gallery showing at “Wimsey Cove Maps & Art” located in downtown Annapolis, Maryland. Her work will be on display at “Wimsey Cove” until the end of May. Although this is her first gallery art show, it is surely only the beginning of a long career.
When I called to speak to Emilee, she was working on her homework, but not for college, not yet, and not for some time. Emilee is eleven years old, but she already knows what she wants to be when she grows up. I would say she has had a wonderful head start.
Inspiration and motivation:
Emilee began drawing when she was about three years old. When I asked where she finds her inspiration, she mentioned books and movies.
“I had a cat phase last year,” Emilee said, resulting from her love of “The Warriors”, a series of books by author, Erin Hunter.
Emilee’s current fascination is with dragons, in particular “Night Fury Dragons”, due to her love of the film “How to Train Your Dragon.” She was describing a black and white drawing of a “Night Fury” dragon she has on her bedroom wall, where she colored the eyes green and the gums pink, “because he was smiling.”
Early exposure to the arts:
Along with the encouragement and guidance of her parents, Emilee has benefited through knowing and working with artistic friends and neighbors within the community: Elizabeth Ramirez, the owner of Wimsey Cove Maps and Art, Mrs. Sheckels, Emilee’s art teacher from Shady Side Elementary School, and family friends who belong to the Muddy Creek Art Guild.
Emilee’s preferred medium is Graphite, drawings made with a graphite pencil, which she sometimes embellishes with colored pencil. Although, her large format acrylic painting, “Tiger Stream”, which she completed at a summer art camp, is attracting some serious attention.
I asked Emilee what she would say to young artists like herself who wish to follow their passion. “Go with your gut,” she said. “Draw what you want to draw. Don’t listen to anybody else. Just do your own thing.”
Currently planning my summer entertainment, learning and adventuring with a ten and a twelve-year-old in tow, I set out to research Contemporary Art Galleries and museums in Washington, DC that we might like to wander through.
After years of field trips and family jaunts, we have seen all the ‘hot spots’ and major DC sites multiple times and could likely take turns as docents, particularly of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum. My goal this summer is to see what we haven’t and to introduce my two young summer students to more of the expansive world of art.
When we left DC to live in Europe for three years, I thought: “Wait! We didn’t get to see all that we needed to see!”
But then we were fortunate to spend many afternoons walking miles around Italian cities like Naples, Rome, Florence, and Assisi. We were blessed to trot around Munich, Dublin, Edinburgh, London and Paris and saw some of the most famous paintings and sculptures in the world.
Now that we have been back for two years, I’m ashamed to admit we have seen far less of our capitol city. What I found through my research could easily take a lifetime of summers to cover so we have some catching up to do.
Better to take this project on one museum or gallery at a time.
Fourteenth street seemed like a good place to begin. A cluster of galleries appear on the map search like grapes on the vine. What I found was fourteenth street is a lively rue of galleries, wine bars, coffee houses and shopping all in one neat place. A spot to travel in the evening with an adult companion, like my husband, not with my two young art enthusiasts.
Numerous searches brought me round again and again to the Corcoran Gallery of Art on 500 Seventeenth Street NW. I am encouraged to see that they offer camp activities for the young ones as well as adult classes. Who knows, maybe there is an artist in me yet. This museum has shot to the top of my to do list. http://www.corcoran.org/youth-family and right now is featuring “emerging” artists. What fun!