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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Man Under My Bed

The Man Under my Bed, acrylic on linen, 30 x 24 inchesXXXXXXXXXXX

MOST GOOD PAINTERS strive to create work that causes them and their viewers to experience a strong rush of emotion. Painting one of my childhood fears worked as such a catharsis for me.

As a child, I had a downright frightening imagination. The subject of the painting above, The Man Under My Bed, in fact lived (I believed at the time) under my bed. Despite all the pretty pink bedding and lacy pillows on the top of my bed, there was a threatening, dark, evil abyss beneath.  My own childhood ying and yang.

I firmly believed that if I were to get into my bed the normal way, i.e. walking up to it and climbing in, The Man underneath would reach out, grab me by my ankle and pull me under. I knew that if he caught me, I would have to live out the rest of my life under my bed with a monster
in that cramped, dark, coffin-shaped space.

Fortunately, I devised a way to insulate myself from that horrible fate.  It involved some acrobatics.  Much to my mother's amazement, every night I would stand a yard away from my bed and take a flying leap onto the bed to stay out of The Man's reach. I exited the bed in the same way, standing on the edge of the bed and jumping in one giant three-foot long leap over the danger zone.

When I started this painting, I didn't realize I was painting my old under-bed nemesis until I completed his face and he started smirking out at me from the painting. I had thwarted his kidnapping approach, so now he was trying to get me under the bed with what passed for him as come hither looks, wine from his brain and flowers. If I had started out painting a non-specific mythical half-man/half-beast with ram's horns, I ended up painting The Man Under my Bed.

Now that I am an adult (chronologically at least), I realize that The Man Under My Bed doesn't really exist– or at least he doesn't live under my bed. To the great relief of Mr. Depingo, I can now enter and exit my bed by walking up to it and climbing under the covers. After painting the above, though, I am now concerned that The Man has simply relocated himself. I therefore exercise extreme caution when I walk past my flower beds.

Ever seen a gardener do flying leaps to enter and leave her garden?

CHEERS!





Monday, August 25, 2014

Coming Out

Sketcchbook pen and ink drawing- Girl Smoking






Digital drawing - Girl Smoking Flowers 

























Painting, -  Coming Out, acrylic,  on linen

































My latest painting, Coming Out,  is currently being exhibited  at the AIR Gallery in the group show Kaleidoscope in Newtown, CT.

It is is yet another  example of my being inspired by an old sketchbook drawing. The sketch of the smoking girl is the basis for the painting. 

The first sketch shown above is the original drawing.  On the second sketch,  I used Photoshop to layer flowers over the original and reduced the flower-layer's opacity, so I could see both the girl and the flowers clearly. This became the working drawing which guided  my  painting. After building up many layers of paint for the girl and the flowers, I added the insects, wings and unraveling pupa. I then added cut paper.

As the the butterfly in the painting  is "coming out" of her  pupa, so is the painting "coming out" of the drawing.

Again, artists, never throw out your old work, no matter how embarrassing it is!

To see more sketchbook-to-painting work follow this link:  http://depingoergosum.blogspot.com/2014/02/ear-count.html

Friday, June 6, 2014

The Privilege Is in the Painting

 Chicken Coop, McLaughlin, 30 x 24 inches

I SAW A FASCINATING PLAY last night– The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall. A true story, it centers around a group of English coal miners who transformed themselves into renowned artists known as the Ashington Group. The miners, who referred to themselves as "pitmen," worked on their paintings at night, after performing long days of backbreaking labor in dark, dank, dusty, oxygen-deprived pits in the ground in Northumberland. What a breath of fresh air (literally and figuratively) painting must have been for them.

The miners' original idea was to enhance their lives through an art appreciation class. They were to meet once a week in their hut with Robert Lyon, an instructor in art history at a local college. After the first few meetings, however, Lyon discovered that the minors lacked sufficient vocabularies to understand his talks on the great art of the world or even to discuss the slides he projected among themselves. Instead, he brought in paints, brushes and canvases and told the men that they were going to start to paint.

The pitmen vehemently protested that they couldn't possibly paint because they had no skills or training in anything, let alone art. Most of them had left school and commenced working in the mines at around age 10. Despite their misgivings, Lyon prevailed and the men started painting. The instructor encouraged them to paint what they felt inside. As they continued, painting not only enhanced their lives but gave them self esteem. One of the pitmen, after completing his first painting said:


I was shaking–literally shaking—‘cos for the first time in me life, I’d really achieved something that was mine…. And I felt like for those few hours there—I was my own boss.

Lyon's advice, painting what you feel inside, is good advice for any painter, including myself. I have been learning Photoshop recently. This involves drawing and painting on an external tablet while watching the work appear on the computer monitor. Pretty tricky when you're not used to it! Though I am convinced Photoshop will eventually enhance my work, the learning process has temporarily set me back some in terms of drawing and painting. It has negated (temporarily, I hope) my formal, graduate-level university training. I feel that I am starting all over again. So I can empathize with the pitmen. I have heeded their instructor's advice and have started to paint what I feel inside, rather than worrying about my technical acumen.

While Photoshopping, I painted my cat predominantly purple because I couldn't find a way to switch to another color. While practicing color gradients, everything I produced looked like a Jimi Hendrix album cover. Don't let this get around, but when using the polygonal lasso, I could not stop it. It lassoed everything in my drawing, then my house including my dog and cat and then went after me. I finally had to pull out the electrical cord, shut the door and leave the house in order to escape. Then I said to myself, "Yes, I'll draw what I feel like inside–which was a glass of wine. Eventually, though, I became comfortable with my new friend, Photoshop, just as the pitmen did with their brushes, paints and canvases.

I, like the miners, discovered that you get better results when you think of painting as a means of self-expression and not of perfection. My nascent Photoshop paintings and drawings, though far from technically perfect, really do express what I feel inside.

After the Ashington Group became famous, Lyon wrote a dissertation about the project and was appointed to a professorship at the Edinburgh College of Art. The Ashington's Group's star painter, Oliver Kilbourn, complained to Lyon that he was just as talented as the Professor, and, indeed, a good enough painter to be in the professor's position. Kilbourn believed that the only reason Lyon, and not he, held the position was that Lyon was a member of the privileged upper class and had the advantage of advanced education and training which was not available to the working class. To that the professor replied with something I have known and felt my entire life:

The privilege is not in the class, the privilege is in the painting.

Paint on,
Depingo

* You can see the Ashington Group's paintings *here.
**Thanks to Li Gardner, my teacher, for keeping me out of the Photoshop insane asylum.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Severed Cords


Hi Mom,

Happy Mother's Day. I actually liked it better before the umbilical and telephonic cords were cut. Nonetheless, I hope you are having a heavenly day in heaven. Probably all the days there are heavenly, so what do you call it when it is a special day? I would love to know, but unfortunately we never get to talk anymore, what with you in heaven and me on earth.

With all of the new technology, I can't believe I can talk to someone in Pakistan on Facebook, which is true, (that's you, Farhan), which is thrilling in it's own way, but I cannot talk to my mom! I'm amazed that some brilliant astrophysicist has not yet figured out how to enable us to talk to those we love after they leave the planet. After all, we (or at least those of us who are old enough) have watched astronauts walk on the moon. We saw them take their one small step for man in boots so unattractive it made me cringe.

What about doing this for mankind? Let the people who are missing their mothers talk to them. I think that would be a worthwhile scientific endeavor. I would rather spend money for that than to watch one small step in some majorly ugly boots. Which one would you vote for? I know my vote is going for talking to my mother. Her name was Babe Bisgood and she was more interesting than any astronaut.

Since no one else seems to be working on it, I have applied my astonishingly unscientific, nontechnical mind to the problem. Hey! You never know–a fresh outlook and all. I'll never be hired by NASA. I've got a different kind of mind. I think I've got it! I'm confident it is original thinking. What if we simply dial our old phone number from when we were children (in my case, SPencer 9-6134–wish I had my childhood princess telephone on which to call). Your parents and you carry the old number with you like some sort of primitive precursor of the barcode. Why do you think you've never forgotten your old phone number in the first place? This is the reason. It's just that nobody ever realized it before. I am not even thinking of becoming famous here; I'm just thinking about talking to my mother.

OK. It's Mother's Day and I'm going to try it. I'm calling. Here goes...SPencer 9-6134...It's ringing......that's a good sign...... no answer. Well, maybe mom's out for Mother's Day. I hope so and I hope she is having a wonderful time. There is no recording asking for messages, so maybe there is no voicemail in heaven. Maybe God's not that into technology. I should think not. After all, He's very old.

No answer...that's OK. No problem, mom. Love you and catch you tomorrow.

xoxoxoxoxoxo
Susie

Friday, April 25, 2014

Alice's Aura

 Alices Aura, 40 x 36 inches


MY STUDIO IS ON THE SECOND FLOOR at Foxglove. Mr. Depingo rarely ventures up there, so he doesn't really know what I'm painting at any given moment. I have ideal lighting in the studio, four skylights and two walls of casement windows facing north and south. When I'm almost finished with a painting, I want to see what it looks like in different lighting, so I bring it downstairs.

Last night, after Mr. Depingo, who is naturally skittish, had already gone to sleep, I brought my current work, Alice's Aura, downstairs. I had just finished watching Local Color, a movie about the relationship between two artists. Because most of my intellectual and emotional life is devoted to art, if I am not painting myself, I watch others paint. This film inspired me to study my own painting, so I brought Alice downstairs and propped her up on the wicker love seat on the porch.

Alice Bisgood, my late Aunt Oddie, was the model for this life-sized painting. I prefer painting someone I know rather than a professional model. Doing so adds depth to the portrait because of the non-formal dimension the model's personality brings to the painting. Even when I am painting a portrait, I am painting shapes, not facial features or anatomy. The fact that I knew Alice makes the painting of her more challenging because in addition to rendering her shapes accurately, I have to take into consideration the intangible quality of her personality. After studying Alice to determine what needed to be done to complete the painting, I left her on the love seat and went to bed.

In the middle of the night, Mr. Depingo was awakened by our dog, Bella, who barked to be let out. In that indeterminate space between dream and wake, he passed through the kitchen, and viewed my painting in the dim porch light. Startled, he jumped because he thought there was a strange woman sitting in our porch. I am glad he didn't try to stab her with a kitchen knife.

As a figurative painter with a formalist bent, like Edouard Manet, the father of modern painting long before me, I am more concerned with shapes and paint–its flow and the patterns and marks it makes. I know that they are the content of a painting more so than any model or subject matter. I know better than to try to paint my subjects literally or "realistically" although I have been accused of doing so. I explain to my accusers it is not even possible to paint realistically because my subjects are three-dimensional and my canvases are two-dimensional. So to even approach the look of reality, I or any other painter has to distort the subject severely when translating from a three- dimensional subject in a two-dimensional format.

Still, the image of Alice was "real" enough to scare Mr. Depingo. What does it mean that Mr. Depingo was startled when he saw the painting? Of course, it took him by surprise, but it also means that my painting techniques worked and Alice's significant form, true inner nature, or aura, if you will, rather than her mere outward appearance, emanated from the painting.

The painter's own aura can be sensed in a work as well. If you look at Willem de Kooning's Women paintings, you will sense de Kooning's aura immediately and strongly. The first time I saw one of these paintings in person, my heart raced, I hyperventilated and nearly fainted right on the floor of the Whitney Museum. The spirit of de Kooning lived on and emanated from the paintings. It seemed as if he were right there with me. It was overwhelming.

Because my use of paint captured Alice's spirit, the painting has a strong emotional pull. I am proud that this painting caused the visceral reaction that it did. It probably means that I am a competent  painter ...or...perhaps...

Mr. Depingo is a big baby.

Paint on,
Depingo

PS. The philosopher Walter Benjamin asserted in his famous treatise The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction that with the advent of mechanical reproduction, the aura of a work is diminished. I believe that you cannot experience the painting's aura by viewing it in digital form either. This in turn means that you're just going to have to come to my solo show at the Good News Cafe and Gallery (October 2 opening) if you want to really experience Alice's Aura.






Monday, April 21, 2014

Visitors, Wanted and Unwanted



Blue Shutters

THE FLOWERS  at Foxglove are very similar to my friends in that they visit us in the spring and summer. My popularity greatly increases during those seasons because we live right on a lake. The flowers, like my friends, stay for a bit while I enjoy their beauty. But after a brief stay, they depart. Although I miss them, I do not despair because I know they will return the following year.

The perfect blooms of pieris japonica are one of the first to visit me in spring. The sight of its pendulous, clustered creamy flowers peeking over the deck warms my heart and quickly gives me winter amnesia. Then, as if to distract me from pieris, forsythia arrives, bright-yellow and sending its wild flowered shoots skyward. This is an unruly sight, but truly electrifying. Indeed, with its shoots standing on end, the shrubs look like they are being electrocuted. We never prune our forsythia. The part that does not stand straight up tumbles over an eight-foot row of trellises between lake and land and down the other side above a narrow path, creating a golden passageway between land and lake. At the lakefront, forsythia arches over and down our seawall, painting the lake yellow.
I enjoy all this yellow but it makes me feel hot. I need a breeze now. Luckily for me, the lilacs, with their twenty-foot high fluffy heads of foliage, start producing their fragrant lavender and white panicles. The extra weight causes these extremely tall shrubs to sway, fanning me with perfumed breezes off the lake.

Just when I am feeling soothed by the lilacs, the riot of the rhododendrum explodes. I am accosted by mound after mound of rhododendrum flowers, their long trusses in brilliant shades of orange, scarlet, hot pink and white seemingly mocking me as a painter. They scream "We can paint better than you." They are right. These loud, brightly colored shrubs can paint a better picture than any artist . Even the forsythia looks pale by comparison, so it slowly fades away. I am braver than the forsythia; I stay put and use the rhododendrum for inspiration.

Sometimes, we have a guest that I really don't want. Her name is multiflora rose. Her rambling, arching canes rise directly from a crack in some boulders beside our cottage. I greet her every year with mixed feelings. On the one hand I admire her tenacity and in-bloom beauty. But on the other, she is uninvited, ubiquitous and invasive. I hate to be violent, but soon I must start pulling her out by her roots.
I hope I never have to do that to any of my human friends.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Beachcombers

Cropped left panelxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Cropped right panelxxxxxxxxxxx


WHAT HAPPENS IN FLORIDA, STAYS IN FLORIDA.  Um...actually it doesn't. I'm going to share with Depingo's readers what I did this winter in Fort Lauderdale.

I took the class Explorations in Painting with the excellent, classically trained  painter Natassia Loth.  She teaches painting at the AN Academy of Art and Design/ Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art. Even though I have advanced degrees in painting from Parsons and NYU, Natty is the best teacher I have ever had. The class is designed to push the painter past her comfort zone.

During the 10-week class, I produced the 30 x 48 inch diptych Beachcombers. These are the "pushing it" materials  I utilized in the making of this mixed media piece.

Beachcombers

Acrylic extender. It is much more efficient than what I was using (acrylic medium/varnish) for keeping acrylic paint wet and  is especially useful in rendering skin tones.

Rough pumice gel which creates a textured surface.

Beach sand mixed in with clear varnish for a beautiful overlay of color and a softer texture

Gak which imparts a shine to the work.

Transference which gives an iridescent glow useful for the nacre (pearlescent interiors of seashells.}

Oil stick which gives you s a gentle translucent color over existing layers of acrylic paint.

Modeling paste for affixing various broken shells, pearls, crab jaws, shark bones  and other bling to the canvas.  In my painting (above) the boy beachcomber's nose is painted but the girl's is a glued-on shell.

And my favorite - glitter.

Indeed, I was pushed past my painting comfort zone–almost to the point of no return. It was so much fun! But in the end, I love the result. So did Natty and the other painters, who compared my compositional use of shells to Georgia O'Keefe's use of flowers.

Paint on,
Depingo




Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Body and Soul



 
I RECENTLY PAINTED my best friend, Kenneth Feldman, who I call Feldy. At the first session: I sit him down in a possible pose, studying intently every feature of his face, body and posture. I take into account all of this physiognomy and store the information in my brain. But now I must mix it with the intangible "patina" of Feldy, such as his personality, wit, intelligence, background–indeed, his soul. If a painter attempts to portray a person by considering only the body without taking into account the soul, she is no different than a house painter.

While we are deciding on the right pose, Feldy mugs. He pulls his lapel, which sports a boutonniere, up to his nose and smells the flower. I love this pose and and tell him that this is the way I want to paint him. Curiously, Feldy says "Please don't paint me that way. I'll look too fey." I am not sure what he means, but choose another pose. Even though he is a delightfully lighthearted and amusing model , I choose to show his more serious side.

In my mind I have blended his "patina" with his physiognomy, so I feel I am ready to block in the paint on my canvas. This involves exploring the shapes of his face and body and constructing them with paint, running my brushes up, around and over the various facial forms to "flesh out" the paint rough. I round out the cheekbones and forehead, I build up the volume for his nose and lips, and I darken around his eye sockets so they will appear sunken–on a lower plane than the rest of his face.

I continue the block-out of all of Feldy - his neck, shoulders, torso, pelvis, legs, right down to his feet. All these anatomical parts are merely shapes. But through my exploration and manipulation of them I know that I will reveal Feldy's soul. His essence, not just his form, will be reflected in his portrait.

Feldy patiently subjects his body and being to my artist's gaze. The work on the paint rough progresses smoothly and quickly. For me, the purpose of a rough is simply to get the paint onto the canvas. At this point I do not concern myself with any likeness these embryonic paint splashes might have to my model. However, in this instance I am struck by the remarkable resemblance between the painting and Feldy.

After that first day, I could not work on the painting for ten months. Sadly, almost immediately after, Feldy was diagnosed with late-stage melanoma. I did try to help his body though, trying to restore or at least maintain what was left of his health, by escorting him to and from doctors, keeping him company while he was being treated, transporting him to and visiting with him in hospitals, bringing him meals, newspapers and clothing.

On one occasion, I even bathed him when a nurse was not available. I was struck by the similarity between running a warm washcloth over his physical face and running a brush over his painted face. Toward the end, Feldy had to be moved to a hospice. While he was there, I realized that I had been so concerned with his body that I had forgotten the importance of his soul. Sadly, I then had to watch his soul drain out of his body bit by bit until it was gone.

A rabbi told me that I shouldn't feel so sad about death. It is not the end. Our bodies are just temporary homes for our souls. Therefore, we should view our bodies as just short-term rentals. He assured me that the spirit of Feldy lived on.

Soon after the funeral I got back to finishing the painting. Although I usually use multiple layers of paint when finishing a painting, Feldy's required very little finish because the rough was so "right." While working on it, I remembered that Feldy didn't want me to use the pose with him smelling his boutonniere because it made him look too "fey." I finally looked the word up in a dictionary and learned that the first definition given is: "chiefly Scottish: fated to die, doomed; marked by a foreboding of death or calamity."

Still, the spirit of Feldy lives on.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Life and Times of Loose Ends

 
Loose Ends attacking Attorneyman, 2 x 3  inches,  pen and ink, digital color, 1992
Loose Ends for New York Law Journal, 5 x 4 inches, pen and ink, digital color, 1994

Loose Ends,  40 x 36 inches, acrylic paint on linen, 2013

I HAVE CHARACTERS IN MY COTERIE
of figments of my imagination that keep re-appearing  in my work. You can see an example of one such figment and his evolution in the above three works.  This character, Looose Ends, was created for and first appeared in Attorneyman, a weekly comic strip I illustrated and wrote for Skadden News and Notes in the early 1990's.  He was a supervillain who created loose ends everywhere he went.

Subsequently, the New York Law Journal gave me an assignment to illustrate an article regarding a  problem law firms were having at the time–Alcohol in the Workplace. The art director gave me my politically correct marching orders, which were that I was not to have any liquor bottles, alcoholic beverage glasses or slumped bodies in my drawing. I thought to myself,  "Why don't you just tie my hands behind my back?" However, I accepted the challenge and got to work.

Loose Ends was my man for the job. He passed all of NYLJ's requirements for the drawing. A lawyer trying to write a brief under the influence would certainly create many loose ends; the waving streamers visually suggest the whirling of a mind inebriated.  To drive the point home, I drew a wilting, curled pencil.

Loose Ends went on to be an advertisement for Quo Vadis, a NYC paper company. The caption was, "If only I'd used a Quo Vadis planner, I wouldn't have so many Loose Ends!"  This ad was noticed by the French blog J ai Rendezvous Avec Ma Vie, which featured  Loose Ends and more of my art in a post.  I don't know exactly what they wrote because I don't read French, but Loose Ends looks the same in French as he does in English.

Today, Loose Ends is all grown up. He is larger and more colorful as a painting, and currently making the rounds at NYC galleries. He still has the streamers but today two birds are tangled in them and flying off with them. Eccentrically dressed, he sports a dragon fly as his tie. His ancient eyes have fallen out of his head into a nest he carries around on his lap for just such emergencies. Indeed, today he shines with the densely layered patina of a highly traveled, well worn old drawing who has had a good life.

I  still care for him, in a nostalgic sort of way, but  Loose Ends is a thing of the past. I don't have any currently, and I hope you don't either.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Ear Count

Nightwings, acrylic on linen, 40 x 36 inches

Sketchbook, precursor to Nightwings, 4 x 3 inches

Vincent van Gogh wound up with only one ear.

Even Picasso had bad days when he produced works that were below his usual standard.  It didn't seem to bother him though,  so he ended his career with both ears intact.  If someone offered you a "bad" Picasso, would you turn it down because it wasn't a "good" one? It's still a "Picasso." He knew that.

The fact is that I came close  to being a one-eared artist myself during many fitful painting sessions   but stopped just short, so I still have two.  Mercifully, my artist's snits manifested themselves by my cutting up the "substandard" drawings or paintings that I was working on, rather than amputating  my ear. However, throwing out one's artwork is almost as bad as dispensing with one's ear.

Don't do either-especially throw out your work, even if you are dissatisfied with it. It is important to see the progression of your work, both technically and  hermeneutically. Not only will you learn from your mistakes, but you will be able to develop a stronger point of view. Also, there is a chance that you will be famous one day, and then everybody will want your "bad" paintings.

Another reason is that you can draw on your "sketchy" beginnings and use your seminal ideas to develop richer, more complex work.  For example, the drawing and painting above were produced years apart. The drawing is a sketch from my journal, made 19 years ago. When viewing it last year, it sparked the idea for a painting in my current series of paintings, Wings. The painting (done 19 years after its precursor ) draws heavily on the sketch, including model, background and mood. I added more color, layering, a dog and a bat. 

The most interesting aspect of the young man's pose is the expressive configuration and placement of his hands, which is why I wanted to sketch him in the first place.  I thought it was visually beautiful. Conceptually, though, his hands look dangerous because I think he might  have been giving a gang hand signal.

 I hope it wasn't the signal for, "Let's cut off the artist's ear."


Monday, January 27, 2014

DNA

Babe and Mac McLaughlin

I WAS WALKING ALONG the beach at Ocean Place with Harrison collecting seashells the other day when out of the blue, he asked, "Your mother's dead, right?"   I replied, "It's sad, but true.  Yes, she's gone to heaven and I miss her very much." He continued along these lines," And your father's dead too, right?," to which I replied that he was in heaven with my mother and I had wonderful memories of both of them.  We walked a little farther, collecting shells in silence.

He then asked, "They were my great grandmother and grandfather, right?"  I told him that was correct.
"Well," he said, "They are not really dead, you know."  When I asked him how he figured that,  he replied, "Because we're alive and we have their DNA."

What a beautiful notion!

We got some beautiful shells  that day too.

Paint on,
Depingo

Thursday, January 9, 2014

She's Leaving Home


 IN MY CURRENT BODY OF WORK, I have focused on the concept of “wings,” as reflected in insects, birds and even human beings. I combine elements of reality and fantasy in what I hope are ways that shed a new light on the interrelationships between humans and the natural world around us. Sometimes the division is clear; on other occasions the two worlds melt into one.  The image above , She's Leaving Home, is the first painting of the series, and the image below is a detail from that painting depicting the village and girl's family in the lower right hand corner.



I rendered the village loosely, but with its own illumination so it would be noticeable.  It is so tiny that it emphasizes how high up in the sky the girl has been carried by the lunar moth.  It reminds me of the villages in Chagall's works.

Paint on,

Depingo 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wings



 

ICARUS HAD THE RIGHT IDEA about aspiring to fly, but took the wrong approach. This mythical figure thought humans could take flight by constructing artificial wings from feathers and wax. He didn’t realize that the real way to fly is through art, and specifically painting.

I am just starting to fly myself and am absolutely thrilled that my painting Wings (40 x 36) has been accepted into Self: An International Juried Exhibit of Women’s Self-Portraiture displayed in Slippery Rock University’s Martha Gault Art Gallery for February 2014. It is one of 3 images that will be on the show's poster and postcard.

I will be aiming for even higher altitudes and other destinations in 2014 and hope that my latest group of paintings, Wings, will carry me there.

Paint on,

Depingo 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Got a Bone in my Leg



Bone Jour,

I'M SITTING IN MY PORCH drinking coffee out of a bone china coffee cup and thinking about bones. And, yes, bone china is actually made from bones. This moderately creepy component of china has inspired me to post some thoughts on bones. But wait a minute, I have to get a sweater first, because I'm chilled to the bone from the cool, early morning air. I know a lot about bones. I became familiar with them at an early age. My father was an orthopedic surgeon–yeah, an old sawbones.

Make no bones about it, bones have done a lot for me. In addition to their more prosaic raisons d' etre of supporting my body, allowing me to walk upright and protecting my brain (moderately successfully), while I was growing up my bones helped me in any number of ways:

As any not-so proper doctor's daughter would have done, I viewed a lot of scandalous, X-rated photos when snooping around in my father's medical library.

Because my father was the team's doctor, I often sat in a box seat right behind the New York Giants' dugout. In addition to watching players break their bones at close range, I got to talk to Willie Mays, Hank Sauer and Bobby Thomson. They waved to us when returning to the dugout and sent us home with autographed balls and gloves.


My wishes would be granted if, while breaking the wishbone at dinner with my brother, Tommy, I got the long end.
Bones also have their downside. I have a bone to pick over what we had to do as kids if we wanted our mothers to be safe from fractures. Remember hopping around avoiding cracks on the sidewalk so you wouldn't "Step on a crack, break your mother's back"? Nice! And the equally nice retort reminding us that bones break, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me."

Despite the breakage factor, boney though I was, I led an enchanted life.

For instance, when I went to visit my father at the hospital, I thought he was some kind of ghostly deity. He wore a long white coat which billowed out and fluttered behind him when he walked and sparkled when it caught the light. He was generally followed by a group of ghostlets in shorter white coats who stuck very close while listening attentively to his every humerus (pun intended) word. Soon the ghost and ghostlets became one–an amorphous, shifting form propelled down the hospital corridors above a flurry of locomotion created by the 16 or so shiny, loafer-clad feet beneath it.

I knew when I was going to get the brushoff. It was when we arrived at my father's office in the hospital. The brass nameplate next to the door read "Head Ghost." Actually it read "Harrison McLaughlin, M.D.," but I couldn't yet read then. Too busy floating around the hospital to enter, my father would stick his head in the office and say "Mrs. Graham, would you mind Suzie while the boys (those were the short-coated, adhered ghostlets) and I go take care of another one of these critters?" The "critters" apparently were the patients who were either waiting to get their bones sawed or those who had already had their bones sawed and were recuperating in various, slings, braces, and plaster casts, while hung from the ceiling in traction. I felt terribly sorry for all those critters because once they were seen by my father and his boys, they never walked again–they "ambulated."

I loved hanging out in the Head Ghost's office. A complete human skeleton hung from what looked like a meat hook in the ceiling. At first I thought it spooky, but then I made friends with it and danced with those merry, dangling bones in our private, ether-scented ballroom to the rhythmic clickety-clack of Mrs. Graham's typewriter. There was also a skull on the desk with whom I had many in depth conversations about, well, bones and other important matters (such as what had happened to the skull's teeth and what's it like to be dead) crucial to a 4-year old, while waiting for my ghost––I mean my father–to return.


When visiting my grandfather, Papa Bisgood, bones came up frequently. I would constantly invite Papa to come out and do things with me. Once in a while he would, but usually he said that he could not. When I asked him why, he never gave any reason other than "I've got a bone in my leg." Year's later I recounted Papa's excuse to my husband, and to this day he declines invitations with "I'd love to, but I've got a bone in my leg." It works; people just don't question such a regret.

My next encounter with bones occurred when I had an art-related accident (that's another post) and severed several of the tendons in my neck and shoulders. My doctor sent me to a radiologist for an X-ray of my head and torso. I entered the radiologist's office after the x-rays were taken, and noticed that literally hundreds of other x-rays were hanging on the office walls–sort of like art. Until then, I had always thought that skeletons were generic and would look pretty much alike. However, I was stunned and a little bit frightened to see that mine looked exactly like me. I could pick "me" out instantaneously–perhaps because my bones are petite and my face doesn't have much integument. I stared at the dark, empty eye sockets in that roentgenogram and my eyes itched to be cradled in them. Those bones claimed me. The skull, clavicle, sternum and all 24 ribs, some sort of grim, ersatz chorus, sang to me, "Yes, we are thee ! This is what you'll be sooner than you think."
For a while, I took solace in the fact that my bones will be around for a long time after the rest of me goes organic and returns to the earth. But they will not last forever. When I die, I will not have to say goodbye to them right away. Depending on soil conditions, it may take hundreds of years before they disintegrate and become one with the universe. But when they do, it's...

Bone voyage!

Paint on,
Depingo


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Arrogant Little Piece of Linen



I IS GOOD to be back in my favorite studio at Foxglove.  It seems so welcoming. When I walk in, the painting I left unfinished last December screams at me, "Finish me, Finish me!" to which I reply, "You arrogant little piece of linen!"

Granted, my ersatz winter studio was not ideal. It consisted of  a pretzel-like me flopped down on a chaise on our balcony over the Atlantic, balancing my laptop between my pelvis and flexed thighs and supporting my Wacom on the underside of my raised left forearm. In this contorted position I could draw and paint with my right hand, all the while battling high winds off the Atlantic.

Perhaps it was not the most ergonomically sound method of working, but it worked long enough for me to get sixteen paintings done in the four months I was a snowbird. I also composed sixteen poems in that same twisted, gravity-defying manner.  Could it be that this very work style is why I currently have splints and Ace bandages on both my wrists to keep them from painting or doing anything else that requires finger or wrist movement?

Back to the screaming painting.  I couldn't just let it sit there unfinished, so I decided to do the finish work on it with a palette knife. I usually don't use this tool, nor do I really know how. It seemed to me, however, that this would require less exacting finger movement than brushes.

Hello! You can't keep the painter in a painter down. Even wrist splints can 't hold me back. Mr. Depingo even sat on me to stop me. (Those of you who are personally acquainted with Mr. D will understand the severity of this.) Nope, it didn't work! I squirmed out. I'm pretty sure a little palette knife work never hurt anyone.

 Just the same, please don't mention this to my doctor.


Friday, April 5, 2013

Yeoman


I HAVE A SUITOR

Yes, I, Depingo - a suitor.  You can see him in the center of the above picture, which I shot off our balcony the first time I saw him.  By the way, you don't need to mention this to my husband, Mr. Depingo.

My suitor (I so prefer that term to "stalker") is incredibly handsome and well groomed, with perfect posture. He always wears his uniform. I have identified it as the uniform that the Beefeaters wear save two minor differences.  The breeches and fuzzy high hat are both white, rather than scarlett and black, respectively. That Queen has such a sense of style! She had the exact same uniform made up for my guard but with the white hat and breeches. This, of course,  is the Florida version of the Beefeaters' uniform.

He definitely has been sent from the Queen and is one of the Yeomen Warders of Her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress, the Tower of London.  His London counterparts' duties are, theoretically, to look after prisoners in the Tower and to safeguard the Crown Jewels.

I have no prisoners here at Ocean Place Palace, except for, say, Mr. Depingo. But I have bought lots of jewelry during my stay. The Queen is an avid reader of my blog (hear, hear!) and this is how I think it went down.  I bought so much jewelry on my stay here that Her Royal Highness got worried and sent one of her guys over to guard said jewels for me. She has always been an extremely kind and generous fan.

My guard, Yeoman, as I call him, stations himself, stiff as a board  under my balcony day and night.   I call, "Good morning, Yeoman" to him from my balcony, as did Juliet to Romeo. Indeed, I surreptitiously blow kisses to him during cocktail hours. Mr. Depingo, puzzled, wonders, "What on earth is Depingo up to  now?" as my kisses float off into the sea-scented air. And at night I call down, "Sweet dreams,  my Yeoman."  Just as  strict  as any Beefeater, at the Palace, he never responds in any way - just stands there  erect and immobile, not so much as a hint of a smile or the blinking of an eye.

Today is my last day here at my sand castle.  Mr. Depingo is packing our things while I am thinking that I cannot bear to leave Yeoman. He is a part of me now and has really gotten under my skin. I have decided to throw caution to the wind. I will go down on the beach and thank Yeoman for being there for me. Perhaps I'll kiss him goodbye and see what ensues. I am so excited to actually meet him.

Post script

I am shocked and dismayed. Alas,  the psychology of perception! It has played a cruel trick on me.  There is no Yeoman–never was at all. I have fallen in love with a lifesaver stand. You can see for yourself below. Imagine my disappointment.












Saturday, March 16, 2013

Boys Will Be Buoys



 OFT HAPPENS on the summer solstice
On the Isle of Moor,  just off Atlantis
 To cure the boys of colds and bronchitis
 Keeping them well so they can apprentice.

Captain Quack brews the boys blowfish tea
Prescribing sometimes as many as three
 Then sets sail with the lads, "Hard alee!"
(Just sayin,' seems suspicious to me.)

For blowfish puffs up inside your knee
You get laryngitis and top heavy
After the boys get their voices back
  Quack fixes them another snack.

He tells their mothers, "They're sick indeed"
They plead, "Return them!" Says he, "No need
Take head, my treatment is gratis
If you declare me loco parentis."

He knots anchors around the boy's necks
Blimey! Parents look like shipwrecks
As he tosses their children into the drink
All watch as down to the bottom they sink.

First rise the bubbles with a gushing noise
After that, the now buoyant boys
Ships tether to legs which look more like toys
No troubles, no poise, Quack's off to St. Croix's.

  Post Script

Boy ahoy! Boy ahoy!
Hope this tale won't kill your joy
Don't drink blowfish––it'll make you screwy
And if you're a boy, you'll turn into a buoy.




Friday, March 8, 2013

Poached Soul


SHE COLLECTED
The prettiest shells at the shore
Thought, "The sea won't miss those I adore
I need many more to sell in my store"
Poseidon roared, "Stop! I implore!"

'Twas written in nautical lore.

She used to make trinkets and rings galore
Sold  them recklessly; she wasn't poor
Got locked in a shell–spit up on the shore
For another collector to pick up off the floor.

'Twas written in nautical lore.

Laughing, she sticks her head out the conch
Upon her paunch she hides her tranche
Skin's the color of poached soul–or a blanch
For eternity she's lost her panache.

Probably end up as somebody's cache.



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How The Mollusk Got Its Stripes



A HAUGHTY HIGH-HATTED ROYAL named La La
Rode on the beach calling, "Ta ta, ta ta"
Her prosaic pale-yellow mollusk carriage
'Twas a vehicle which I have to disparage.

Though powered  by zebra
Of stripes that would please ya
This lack-luster shell did not ring my bell
A visual fact that made La La unwell.

She stopped at El Mar
Where the azure spread far
To water her zebras
Dried out from their seizures.

A flock of magpies fond of her hat
Nested in there and that was that
One of them pecked at La La's cranium
Out came her brainium, hue of geranium.

It flowed down her arm right onto the mollusk
The stream was robust; she lamented, "Tsk, tusk"
Startled, the zebras reared up and down
 Imprinting stripes on the shell all around.

Now the ride of the Queen of Zebras
Outshines that of the Queen of Sheba's
La La's mind is now vacant; but I've no gripes–
Small price to pay for the mollusk's stripes.





Sunday, February 24, 2013

Liquid Feet


AMPHIDRITE rules the sea
Her consort, Poseidon, thinks it's he
Encircling the sea with her blue liquid feet
She flows onto her seahorse to see who she'll meet.

I, on the shore, straddled a dolphin
Crashed through the breakers for frolic and laughin'
I giggled and grinned 'til off fell my feet
My ankles and calves to make it complete.

Where are my limbs? I can't stand anymore!
 Amphitrite answered– with thunderous roar
" I saw you enter my cobalt door
I've never even seen a girl before.

Just seals and dolphins–such a bore
The more I see you, the more I adore
I am the personification of the sea
And you're the splashing image of me."

She called me Rhode; poured me a treat
Cool foamy water replaced my feet
Now I float with my new found mother
And swim with my dolphin, for he is my brother.





Thursday, February 21, 2013

Lady of the Sea

 
LAH-DE-DAH, lah-de-dee
Lady on a yawl slid into the sea
Fell from grace
Off the bow did she.
Called for help not once but three.

Bobbed fore and aft
 Like a piece of debris
 Clung to a shell
Hopelessly.

Towed pell mell
 During this embrace
Wore seaweed lace
Drank algae tea.
       
Who could it be
On this ominous race
Might be you; hope not me
Lah-de-dah, shell-shocked she
Our lady...
Lady of the sea.


Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Socialite



ALONE
And introverted Hermit the Crab
Pondered his life on the beach––found it drab
One day as his pincers skittered along
He spied a beauty in shimmering thong.

Whined Hermit,"Permit me to blab my gab"
Misguidedly added, "Your claws look fab"
Frightened, the girl quickly shied away
He got angry and stammered, " st-st-st-stay!

Sure I'm a crab with pincers that stab
But inside my shell, it's as big as a cab"
She shrieked, "Get away!" gave a hell of a yell
With that he stuffed her under his  shell.

He crab-walked further on down the beach
Grabbing up all the girls within reach
Now he's ebullient, no longer up tight
Indeed, he's a veritable socialite.


+

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Turtle Tat



FOR THE LACK
Of a turtle on his back
Bri stopped in at the Tattoo Shack
The tatteur misunderstood
Didn't think that he could.

He was just a  hack
And lacked the knack
For painting a turtle on a back
And since he wore a thick wool hood
Couldn't hear as well as he should.

Without the least amount of  flack
He gave Bri a thunderous whack
Put all but his face in the back of the Mack
 And truly believed what he did was swell
As he glued Bri's face to a turtle shell.

The turtle dove deep into the blue
With only Bri's face as his crew
Who knew? Maybe a few
That the man who wanted a turtle tat
Would become one just like that!


Friday, February 1, 2013

Mc Laughs



If you hold it to your ear, you can hear the subway.







Thursday, January 31, 2013

McLaughs



Jeeze! We forgot the kids!





Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Darwinian Repurposing


DARWIN repurposed the horseshoe crab
Far better than Post-its, tray or tab
He classified the crab as Nelson
And stacked his research on Nelson's telson
A desk accessory may seem a bit drab
But it's far better than being a crab.

Then he designed a canine shredder
Pieces of paper never seemed deader
The wind took this occasion to play
Before blowing the confetti away.
Tired after his doubleheader,
Darwin took the dog home and fed her.

If you must work August through July
Do grab a crab so you won't have to cry
Through Darwinian brilliance it's not out of reach
to set up your office and work at the beach.
Darwinian repurposing -- don't be shy
Next on your list, repurpose your guy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Aragonite For Breakfast


  
OYSTERS on the half shell
Delicious! - slide or chew
Not so easy though
When the eyes look up at you.

And just before my bite
It screamed, "Arrhggg, Aragonite*!
Aragonite!" with all its might
Fingers raised, staring in fright.

"Choke, choke," I heard it croak
Poke, poke, I poked the bloke
Cough, cough, it spit up a pearl
I  didn't eat but gave it a twirl

To get the pearl of course! I am a girl
With no remorse. "To the sea with ye!"–hurl!
I hung the pearl from my necklace
And then went on with my breakfast.



PS  *Aragonite is the mineral normally found in pearls.
 It is more powerful than kryptonite.

 
PPS  Only really good sports will model for me anymore.

Paint on,

Depingo