Friday, July 23, 2010

Vacation Time

Hey all.  I'm on vacation this week.  We've had to downsize our vacation due to our new financial responsibility of tuition payments!  Yay!  No West Coast or Europe this year.

We are making our way up the east coast to see old friends.  First stop is East Milford, NJ.   My good friend lives on the New Jersey /New York border, north of the city, near the Tappan-Zee bridge, the widest part of the Hudson River. 

Next we are visiting our friend Linda in Milford, CT.  She was my "boss" in Philadelphia at the Blindness agency where I met my husband.  I have not seen Linda in over twenty years.

Finally we will spend a few days and nights in beautiful Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  We will visit wonderful old friends. 

 I have a cat painting I will probably post as well as photos of our trip when I get back.  Otherwise you probably will not hear from me for about a week. 


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Blackberry Road

Some of you know that I live in the middle of nowhere, U.S.A. which is smaller than Dive's Smallville.

We live on a three acre lot with agricultural/conservation zoning which was sold to us by our neighbor.

We decided to reforest about an acre. Unfortunately the Electric Co-0ps power lines cut through a bit of the reforested area. Last year they told us they had to cut a path through it. These were tree guys and we told them we wanted to preserve as much of the trees as possible. They were very considerate. We had other people who wanted to spray and kill everything. We would not allow this. Our neighbors allowed them to spray an area and they destroyed an entire patch of black raspberries.

Happily, last year's cut resulted in a flowering daisy meadow!

One of my little summer guilty pleasures is to take the dogs out in the morning for a bit of exercise.

I must confess that while the family thinks I'm exercising, I am actually foraging for berries.

In my little wooded corner of nowhere, I have thickets of black raspberry in June, and several varieties of blackberries in July.

These delectable treats while abundant will never be made into jam or a pie. I've been there, done that.

Not as long as they are part of my morning walk.

When they are fresh, they are healthy, full of fiber and not coated with sugar. I can gobble them up without much guilt.

A pie would transform these into a sinful indulgence. So I will enjoy these in July, fresh and sweet. Sugar is not necessary. I may not burn as many calories from walking fast, but I think of all the calories I've saved from not making them into pie.

More importantly, there is something about berry picking that transforms me into a kid again. I love the hunting, I love the gathering. I just don't like to share the harvest. And by the way, I do live on Blackberry Road.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Chiminea Cat Painting by Anita Williams

I've been into an animal kick lately. I am enjoying the responses I've gotten from the cows and the seals. I just believe that people are drawn to faces. So for those of you who like faces, I hope you enjoy Eddie in the Chiminea. Eddie is smart enough to realize that he does not like to be wet. During one of our winter snowstorms, he discovered a nice little "shelter" inside the chiminea. Unfortunately, the chimney enabled him to sneak out the top to grab the occasional unsuspecting songbird. My daughter eventually solved that problem, by placing a soccer ball on top of the opening. Eddie hasn't quite figured out why it is so dark inside.

Eddie presented a particular challenge in that he is a striped, brown tabby. Partially due to his impeccable breeding. Eddie was born to a feral father and a trailer park mother. One of my students begged me to give him a "good home". I have read that the brown tabby is very close to natural wild cat coloring. Eddie likes to accompany us on our walks through the woods where he is almost completely invisible. His coloring blends in perfectly.

Anyway, while painting, the challenge was to try to capture this beautiful coloring, and show some texture while not losing the "form" of the animal. Another challenge was capturing the snow. I blended some pthalo blue with titanium white and applied it with a wide trowel.

The surface of the chiminea was completed with a palette knife. The kitty was painted using a combination of brushes, knives, sticks and scumbling.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Refresh Button

Ah...summertime. The heat, the humidity. The sweat, the stink, the bugs, the poison ivy. The black raspberries, the blackberries, the wineberries. Homegrown tomatoes, snap peas, the barbeque. So much to hate. So much to love.

This is the first summer in a while that I do not have to take graduate classes. I have no major vacation planned. I have no pending solo show or gallery contract. My adult painting class was canceled. My oldest daughter graduated. I finished all of her college paperwork (I think).

I can finally relax.

I didn't rush to my painting shed because I didn't have to.
When I did get in there I decided to clean it. Ancient, tubes of half-empty paint which long ago lost their caps were tossed. An old sketchbook was opened and I drew with a pencil. Long forgotten reference photos were rediscovered.

I found a coupon. Fifty percent off of anything at Michael's. Thought I would get myself some brush cleaner. When I got there I found stretched canvasses on sale. I bought nine. Started painting again this week.

People are always complaining about teachers. We have it so easy being off for the summer and all. I know. We make too much money yada yada yada.

Just so you know, I am finally feeling relaxed. I'm almost caught up on my laundry and I've been sleeping until 8:00, sometimes 9:00 as opposed to 5:00 a.m. during the school year. I don't feel guilty.

Don't get me wrong. I love teaching. I love 95% of my students. Sometimes that other five percent suck the enthusiasm right out of me. Teenagers can be amazing, ambitious and fun or they can be total and complete idiots. Most of them are old enough to choose. Worse than the teenagers, however are the administrators. Our school is currently run by a team of nincompoops.

At any rate, I have a clean painting shed, nine blank canvasses, a little less stress, and a rested body.

I may finish some paintings.

Or maybe not.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Summer Parade

We're back to the sixties again on Chanese Lane, in beautiful Oceanville, New Jersey. I remember organizing this little Fourth of July Parade. I am the one with the army hat, braids and looking ridiculously patriotic in my red, white and blue. I am also one of the few that is not barefoot. My sister Sharon (Shazza) is the adorable blonde to the right of me with the "cymbals" and yellow shirt. My best friend, Maria is behind me carrying the big flag. I remember the boy on the bike as the obnoxious kid across the street. Maria's sister Mandy is to the far left.

Chanese Lane was a wonderful little neighborhood. It was a half mile cul-de-sac developed with little one-story and split level houses situated on the edge of the pine barrens. Behind us you can see where the lane dead-ended into the salt marsh. My parents bought their little split level for around $10,000.

The neighborhood was inhabited by young families. The parents were friendly. We kids were outside all the time. We had miles of pine forest to explore. The woods on the north side of the lane extended to the Brigantine National Wildlife Refuge. The woods to the south backed up to the Seaview Country Club. There was very little traffic and the lane belonged to us. I remember Mom sending us out in the morning. I'd go to Maria and Mandy's house and we would get her dogs and set off on an expedition of sorts.

Summers were spent exploring the woods. We found the tombstone of the Jersey Devil's relatives (Sarah and Obadiah Leeds). We collected the creatures and flowers and fruits that we found. This was not the New Jersey that people typically think about. There were no Sopranos and we did live on the Jersey Shore.

The parade was a silly idea at the time when we had time for silly ideas. Our imaginations fueled our play. There was no political agenda. It was a holiday and a time to celebrate. My parents moved us to a new home in a new town the following year. Our family was growing and they wanted us to go to better schools. Chanese Lane changed over time. I will always remember it as the setting for an incredible childhood.