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Saturday, December 29, 2018

approaching a new year

by Rain Trueax

As we approach the new year, it's a time for me to look back as well as forward. In some of my looking back, I picked out a few photos from our year to share. They show one piece of what we experienced. Not easy even then to narrow it down to only two from each month. The music is some I bought a license to use from JewelBeat.

So what 2019 will hold, well, time will tell :) 

Happy New Year

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: New Year creative expectations :Ordering supplies for painting 2019

December 2018 my painting involvement was slowed to just looking at my recent oil paintings and wanting to make changes but my paints were packed away until longer, warmer days after my recovery from cataract surgery. So now recovered I am finding excuses not to paint. Love my progress in remembering my French I spend mornings listening to the lectures and doing the activities in "Rendezvous with French Speaking Cultures" from The Great Courses.
My paintings are crowding into my indoor work space. But not for long! A little more space will open up when I hang about twelve in the south hall of the Corvallis Caring Place in January.
So while dreaming in a catalog my husband jumped to order for me a Christmas gift of  ten Daniel Smith watercolor sticks. Something I will take on the plane to Hawaii soon. I wonder how they will work on surfaces that will be finished with a permanent varnish so they do not need to be protected with glass.
Also shopping for glasses or some combination of glasses and contact lenses that will be perfect for painting..
My cataracts are replaced with lenses correcting for relatively close distances for painting and  the computer. Works perfect for computer but not yet as well for painting indoors and outdoors. I am experimenting with many options. So far big paintings require a contact in one eye for distance. Far distance vision is necessary for the painting to look natural. For close work, also, the vision is a little fuzzy and I actually see better without magnifying glasses from Fred Myers. Apparently I need sharper vision for painting than I do for reading.
 After the holidays, I should be getting the driving glasses I have ordered last Friday. If I go with monovision with one contact lens, I will need reader sunglasses. I've been told that Walmart is a good source for reader sunglasses.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas

by Rain Trueax

Ho ho ho, who wouldn't go?

Silent Night. Holy Night.

Whatever Christmas means to you-- if anything-- it totally dominates the weeks before it. Hanukah slips in, along with the Solstice, but it's mostly aimed at that one time where gifts are exchanged -- sometimes returned the next day-- and all is jolly.

Except it's not that way for those who have lost loved ones, not for those who worry knowing they have extended their credit cards trying to create a memory that will be worth it. I haven't ever done the overspending for Christmas but definitely have known the times of great joy and those of nostalgia and a sadness about what no longer is. 

Because of the long nights (at least in the Northern Hemisphere), it is a season to go within-- when there is time amongst the many holiday events. I've written before about this and only have one thing to add here, where we are on the road in a travel trailer with four cats-- I hope whatever your expectations are for this season, you have warmth and a good feeling as your companion whether with family or alone with Christmas music and maybe holiday themed movies.

For me, the big thing is the Solstice, which this year was just a day before the full moon. It means we're over the hump and the light is coming back-- gradually.

Don't forget the Christmas books on sale-- alongside here. 99¢ until right after Christmas :) 

In Diana's Journey, she is not looking forward to Christmas but Bluff, Utah has a surprise waiting for her. 

Helena wants to bring her family together, which includes her husband's estranged family. Is Christmas, with all its pressures, the right time? Phillip doesn't agree. A Montana Christmas looks at all that the season might mean.

Frederica came to Arizona to find her daughter before Christmas. She finds a lot more. Christmas in this book is in the future with a family willing to welcome all to their loving arms. Frederica's Outlaw

In Rose's Gift, she is widowed and has not imagined a romance might be in store-- how about a stepdaughter and grandson?

Priscilla wants to make special for two people who have never know a warm time where it came to that season. The Marshal's Lady

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Power of Agnes Varda photos and film, "Cinevardaphoto"

Cinevardaphoto is the second film of Agnes Varda reviewed here. The first was "The Gleaners", December 12.  As the words "cine" and "photo" suggests in the title, this Netflix DVD is actually 3 short films about the power of  photography by Agnes Varda.  The first is a documentary about a collector, artist, and curator, Ydessa Hendeles who made a photo art installation called the "Teddy Bear Project" first presented in a Toronto Art Museum and with a second viewing in Berlin. The project was installation included  two stories with a room on each level connected by a winding staircase. From floor to ceiling are photos. People of all ages, doing all kinds of things in all kinds of places but in every picture there is at least one teddy bear.
 Ydessa said her exhibit is not a theme show. The whole show include other rooms as sparse as the two exhibiting photos is crowded. The exhibit challenges the viewer. Ydessa connects on an emotional level with the viewer.
Included in Varda's film are the responses of the people viewing the actual exhibit, "The Teddy Bear Project".  Walking through the entire exhibition, the feelings of the spectator changes for the photos of people with teddy bears. After seeing the almost emptiness, they go back through the rooms of photos with teddy bears that previously gave them warm fuzzy feelings of connectedness. Now most felt the photos made them painfully sad.
But the way the film was presented, I felt uplifted with confirmation that all people are essentially alike including everyone. But I might be projecting my own beliefs into the deliberately understated theme.

The second film, "Ulyssis" documents Agnes Varda's photography after World War II.
The third was a documentary of 1950's Cuban revolution and the Cuban arts. I enjoyed how  a group of still  photos taken in succession were used to create the illusion of a motion picture.

Creativity is taking two or more ideas and combining them to make a new not obvious realizationship. Agnes Varda believes all aspects of making a film should work together to communicate the theme without anything to distract. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018


by Rain Trueax

Recently, I've been thinking about life and writing-- how they go together. Many years ago, I decided people could be divided only two meaningful ways. It wasn't by race or ethnicity but were they caretakers or destroyers? 

It isn't always easy to tell the difference. Some destroyers come across as loving-- maybe loving to one and destructive to another. Care-taking is the same way. It doesn't always mean Kumbaya. We might think someone is a caretaker when they want to give away things or are complimentary. It doesn't always work out to be true caring. 

Where I think it's easiest to use this test is with ourselves.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel; Review of Agnes Varda's film, "The Gleaners and I"

Gleaners are everywhere sifting through harvested fields and looking through dumpsters to name two gleaning sites. But I had not thought about them until I watched a Netflix video. Agnes Varda's "The Gleaners and I".   It was filmed in 2000 when she was 72 years old.  She is well known in France as a pioneer in the New Wave films. She is a feminist and activist. The theme of the "The Gleaners and I" was our society is wasteful of food, manufactured products and without words she communicated that she felt she was a discarded senior.
In Oregon the art of gleaning is an art in the best of health.

Don gleaning firewood from dying trees  about 8 years ago

About 19 years ago Don chopping wood  gleaned 
from neighbor's diseased trees.

Varda believes all roles in making a film should work together. Cinematographer, screenwriter, director, etc. working simultaneously to create a more cohesive film, and all elements of the film should contribute to its message. at first I was puzzled by what appeared to me as disconnected.She combined pictures of her old hands and gray hair with interviews of people from all backgrounds eating and collecting agricultural waste and urban garbage. It was a real stretch for me to associate Verda with societies discards. She intended to say society makes older people discards and that she proves how wrong society is?

 But what was most interesting to me was the creative process of some of the gleaners who were performing or visual artists or lived creatively.
It is fun picking up glass and other micro-trash on our neighborhood roadways and then make an assemblage.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Christmas in fiction

by Rain Trueax

There were years when I had a big footprint where it came to Christmas. It goes back to childhood with Santa coming Christmas Eve, and then Christmas Day with our family, aunts, uncles, grandma, and cousins for big meals and more gifts. When Ranch Boss and I formed our own home, there was always a Christmas tree and more gift giving through all the years of child rearing-- even as they formed their own homes and grandkids came along. 

Regularly, we'd have a big dinner at our home twice-- first one for neighbors and friends with even luminaries to light the driveway, second for family and again some friends, who didn't have family nearby. I loved the preparation, the decorating, the sharing, and setting up three tables for sit-down dinners. 

In decorating, I had Christmas nativities, ornaments that went back to childhood, collectible ornaments (some hand painted), white twinkly lights, and a huge Christmas village. Lots of greens were cut, along with a Christmas tree along with many white candles.

We generally did the Advent calendars and, in Catholic days, attended midnight masses (that is so special). Then out here in the rural community church, we were involved in Christmas programs. It's a busy season when someone is in a community.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Painting color and texture after cataract surgery

Every Spring the first time painting outdoors after becoming accustomed to dimmer lighting of winter, I need to be mindful that the brighter outdoor lighting makes my paint colors appear lighter outdoors. Then looking at them indoors the colors are much too dark. Since the colors appear lighter, I paint too dark. Soon I become accustomed to painting in outdoor lighting.
Having cataracts removed is like painting every Spring. I am adjusting happily.
I feel grateful for seeing a cleaner brighter view of earlier color in my paintings.


I, also, am aware without cataracts I am seeing like the Spring time outdoor painting phenomenon - I am apt to paint darker and dirtier.  Being aware I am sure I will adjust and be better off seeing truer color.  How fun to see how they relate to one another.
After surgery for a right eye focal point at three feet at arms length for best seeing my paintings, a big surprise was seeing clearly the textures of paint I had missed and did not know I was missing.

Detail from a textural painting completed 2016
Still wondering how my left eye focus at six feet will integrate with the right eye focus at three. Second surgery was yesterday. Such a big experiment!

Saturday, December 01, 2018


by Rain Trueax

It's hard to believe that it's already December. This year went by soooo fast. I am not much of a holiday person, though I had years where I was. Now it's mostly get through the season, to the shortest day and start heading toward spring and then summer. 

There is a time in life where I was more traditional but that's not this time. I look with some nostalgia on those days but life is what it is. I do see people where their lives seem to stay a lot the same for religion, community, family. Do we choose whether that happens or is it what it is?