Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Day of Giving Thanks

Today I am thankful for teachers and mentors, for volunteers. Our lives are blessed with bright, creative, generous people that guide and inspire us.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Forget the Turkeys, I Need Help

Update :: I read all of your suggestions, after painting the bench red. The primer looks very promising and when the final color goes on, I think it will be what I wanted. In case I didn't make myself clear: This was only about those benches, and now they pop with their warm cranberry-rose shade. Thank you for playing. Pictures soon.::

Put down your cookbooks and mini marshmallows. I am face to face with a real life paint crisis.
The crisis is: In real life I do not enjoy the stress-anxiety-responsibility of choosing paint colors.
I recognize a wrong choice, but I am not immune from making the wrong choice.
Help me Santa.
Paint fairies?
Friends, wise counselors?

Okay. Here is what we have, and your job is to advise me where to go...
paint wise.

This is the very best of the Bird House blue. Most times and in most light it does not look this bright, this perky.
I wish it did. I like this trick of my camera, that the blue came out so energetic and decidedly blue.

This is a slightly sadder version of what the blue typically looks like. It goes a bit drab, a bit gray.
Where are my good camera battery and charger? I cannot believe these two pictures were taken in the same place and time. One is facing north and the other south... it makes a difference I guess.

So, around the corner from the entry is where I need to paint. But first take a moment to admire the beach pebble set down over the new drainage pipes. The objective was to keep plants, mud, ponds, creeks and salmon from living against the foundation and siding.

Note: Those round pavers are abundant here and I have been moving them around the yard and making very good use of them. I am prone to making good use of materials on hand. I did struggle with the decision a little bit, because they are slightly not super pretty. "Function, paid for, and easy" won my heart in the end. So, yesterday at the garden center I went looking for five more... I only need a measly five more to finish the path to the door. The guys at the garden center rolled their fancy eyes and said, "Oh those. Yeah, we don't carry those anymore. Nobody wants them. Except you," chuckle, chuckle.

I want to know what color to paint the benches.

It needs primer for sure. That dry wood is going to suck up primer like Gatorade at the Super Bowl. After primer comes color. Help. Seriously. I want to enjoy choosing, but I feel so split, so wishy-washy.

Alright. I am sorry if you were doing something important, if I interrupted yoga or delayed you from leaving a comment on PW's blog... something that actually matters. But I know some of you enjoy this kind of thing. Some of you are good at this. Left to my own whimsy, this bench could get painted red, and after Christmas, I could come to regret my seasonal inspiration.

I did consider matching the shutters, but I am not too crazy about the gun metal gray and dark benches would not feel welcoming in the hot summer months.

The house is trimmed in white, which would stay cool and coordinate and... get dirty easy and quick.

Yesterday's post was so much more interesting and meaningful. I do hope you got a chance to read about this wonderful South African artist, but if you didn't, please help me first, before you follow the link. In twenty minutes I am going back to garden/home center to buy paint. Those fancy guys are going to roll their eyes at me again when I leave the store with a gallon of Christmas Red paint.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Meet Mr Chris Opperman

All week I have been posting about my thoughts on gratitude. Each day I have focused on one thing that I am thankful for. Well, back in September something happened that exemplifies so many of the things that I am thankful for, it's a beautiful and poignant example of what makes me thankful, and it began with a letter I got over the Internet. When I opened the email I gave it a quick scan, and I was immobilized with the surprise of seeing dear, familiar images, but in a wholly new context.

I really was stunned. Someone had painted my children, my nephew, my hen, and I was awestruck by the gentle and heartwarming way he painted these favorite subjects.
I still feel amazed by the paintings. I gazed at them... a lot of questions were forming in my mind, but a lot of time passed before I could stop looking at the art and read the accompanying letter.

This image of Max and his cousin Nick is very dear to me. The part I recognized was from the day we celebrated Maria's derpday... Max and Nick were sitting together at the edge of the pond, gently letting fish swim in to their hands. They were so quiet and patient. Max held Nick to keep him from dropping in. I think even without the photograph to remind me, I could never forget how special their cooperative and kind activity was and how lucky I felt to witness it. And now here it was in someone else's hands and he too saw the unique scene... he honored their play and wonder.

By now I was teary.
I read the letter.
"Hello Natalie
...I stumbled upon your blog while looking for images of chickens, and immediately liked the type of photos you take. I made a few paintings of some of the images, which I attached along with a picture of me (under very hot lighting). I hope you are not cross with me for using your photos without permission. I figured that perhaps you might like photos of the paintings, and an apology.

Without being too forward, I would like to know if it would be okay if I use some of your photos in the future...of course I will first email you before I use an image. There is an atmosphere in your photos that creates a aaahh moment...don’t know how else to describe it, English is not my native language. If a picture paints a thousand words, these photos tells volumes. I’m a very nostalgic person and really miss my childhood....the best years of my life...only I did not realize it then. I love painting people with character...old people etc. and my favourite...children of course. They act so natural and paintings of children stirs memories of ones own childhood...perhaps a way of reliving one’s childhood and no care in the world...your only concerns..playing, eating, sleeping and a lot more playing.

I hope you have a most blessed day

Kind Regards,
Chris Opperman"

Now I was really teary, and I remember I ran to wake Geoff and drag him to the computer.

His paintings take me to the moment, to the place and emotions I felt when I clicked the button on my camera. I can enjoy my own thoughts and feelings about events and moments that stir me, but it is amazing to have someone far, far away, a stranger, take these images and process them and still capture the essence of what I was seeing and living. Does that make sense? I am moved not just by his painting skills, but by the connection we have made, though we have never met... he can paint the elusive, intangible elements that I remember and feel from these scenes.

"My name is Chris Opperman and I live in the most beautiful country in the world...South Africa of course. In 1989 I had a freak accident where I fell and broke my neck. Since then I’ve been paralyzed from the neck down. I became a student with Amfpa in 2002...that is the Association of Mouth- and Footpainters.

I am currently working on my website where people can view/buy my work, or request a painting on order. For the time being, I still have a Myspace account, where some of my paintings are featured. Unfortunately, it is not quite up to date, as I still have to add the paintings of the past two years. I think I will be doing that today, while I am at it. If you visit MySpace, you will be able to see some of my work under Pics. The Association of Mouth- and Footpainters in South Africa has its own website Association of Mouth and Foot Painters. You can look under Artists, and then under students, where you will find me in the third row from the top with my bandanna."

Today, every day, I am thankful for opportunities created by computers and the Internet for people to find each other and become friends, exchange ideas, offer support and knowledge, share art. I am thankful for art, and I am thankful for friends new and old, near and far. And I am thankful for the feeling of awe and respect that some people can stir in me... Thank you Chris. You are talented and inspiring. I am glad you reached out to us and you are welcome to share your beautiful work with Chickenblog any time.