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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Aging and changes in my handwriting

My writing in 1954

My writing in 2019
 A small detail from a book stood out as confirmation of what I thought happened in my own doings.
          One such observation is from the novel, THE WEIGHT OF INK by Rachel Kadish. A British history scholar observes  more rounded hand writing is an indication of youth.
          THE WEIGHT OF INK, by Rachel Kadish is a fictional novel about two educated woman.   One is a 21st century British scholar of Jewish history.  The other is a 17 th century scribe who took on a man's name to write letters to well known philosophers. She had to hide her identity as a women because women were not given a voice in educated conversation. Her personal writing and life touched on a deep level the woman history scholar who was the first to see the documents in 2003. Though she was leading the first examination of the letters,  academic politics made recognition of women very difficult. One reason the handwriting made the documents powerfully real to her was the handwriting. Through the changes in the heaviness of the ink's application, a record is made of  the smooth speed or hesitations of the writer.
          In order to confirm my own youthful rounded hand is actually more rounded than my mature pointy hand, I looked through samples of my own handwriting. I was surprised at not being able to confirm my own suppositions.  The fountain pen  I used in 1954 left a better record than the state of the art Pentel Roch'n Write which is made to make my writing more evenly consistent.
          The conclusion: My handwriting is now more evenly slanted than when I was 11 years old. The letters are closer together but just as rounded.  Not age but the stress of a busy life effected my writing when I was daily chauferring my children in competitive roller skating.  At the same time I sent many letters to aging parents and relatives, while working in an art studio away from home. My handwriting was smaller with more space between lines.
From a letter to my parents May 16, 1984
From copied lecture notes June 1964
At Portland State College I had much more leisure time than 1984

Saturday, January 26, 2019

life issues of the aging

by Rain Trueax

When you reach a certain age, which could vary for any of us, the idea of end of life comes into play. I mean at 75, I obviously have a lot less years ahead than I've lived. What does that make for my choices, how I spend my money, home, pets, livelihood, etc.? How do I arrange for what I leave behind? How do I want to spend those years?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Resolution of PAPERS Collage

When I first began gluing paper to canvas, I was confident that I would think of a purpose for the collage. If some of the pieces of paper were not compatible, I could remove them or paste over them.
            From my father's example I learned we did not have to throw away old worn things and always buy the newest and latest. Every part of this work is recycled except the acrylic medium used for glue. My father's values of saving what others toss became my direction.  Papers are precious and beautiful and should be lovingly preserved.  Even the weak papers I had hand made have character. Of course my theme grows out of other influences than my father like awareness of our growing waste management problems and seeing the work of other artists.
         Maybe photographs of my father with me would be appropriate?  Couldn't find a good one of our 1934 Chevrolet Coup with the trunk lid up and covered with a tent of a Mongolian Wool Horse Blanket sewn together with Ritz died rust and chartreuse colored canvas tarps.  We must have looked like gypsies camped in Yosemite National Park in 1952.  The trunk was a bed for my parents and I slept in the cab.  The picture of a car he drove until 1986 and the coup rigged as a want to be RV would demonstrate the human inventiveness as opposed to wastefulness.
          The loss of the photo was not a problem. Putting a picture of things or people would draw attention away from the beauty of old and weathered papers. I want attention on the beauty of nature's imperfections - the beauty of nature after weathering and aging. The beauty of not throwing away broken things but making them more beautiful by mending them is the value handed down to me from my father.
          I was done. The restoration of the discarded canvas, and the recycled paper made into art paper tells my father's values, I thought for a short while it was enough.
          Then I realized in a small area the linear directions of colorful cut paper was a pivotal directional force within the collage. These papers could say more about the value of preserving papers. Preserving paper preserves nature which was another value passed down to me. To better communicate my values, I found paper made from garden clippings with a little shell and moss covered twig.  I wound around it another cotton cord to signify nature as being as much a part of my father's identity as the cord wound  #8 envelope containing proof of his legal citizenship.
           Two references to my father begged for a third. Being sentimental I have a difficult time throwing away my father's things. One was a Pink Pearl eraser, which was used up until it was as round as a wheel. But nine years after his death, last year it went into the trash. I looked for more envelopes but last year all the ones like the # 8 envelope went into the trash. There was a portfolio. Placed on my large collage, I noticed  his artistry in mending and how well it worked with the repetition of rectangles.
          For awhile the collage was complete giving me the feeling of precious beauty like a well crafted book.
          PAPERS was a journey and the resolution is imperfect. I wish that the acrylic medium did not make papers with a natural shine more characteristic of gross plastic as is the case with father's #8 envelope. Soon I will replace the original envelope with another envelope and natural cotton cord like father used. Father's name is a further distraction and will not be copied.  Let the viewer see the importance of paper and not confuse the story the viewer can make for themselves with a story of  my father. 
          The journey of making this collage was well worth these little disappointments. The little disappointments point me towards learning more in another journey with making a collage.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Aging-- gracefully or not

by Rain Trueax

 Image from Stencil. 
No, it's not me but isn't that a great old face as she looks at a barren and dried up world. All she's experienced is seen through those eyes-- maybe,as she's getting closer to it, also what she sees of the other side.

There are reasons I come back to the topic of aging-- sometimes it's a lifestyle change, but it can simply be looking in the mirror. As people move into old age, some try to hide the numbers. I guess, that's fear of being devalued for being old. This is a cultural thing as it's not that way everywhere or even years back in my own culture.

The word elderly has its own connotations. I remember reading articles where the 'elderly' person in it was 63 or so. When does elderly begin? I would guess by 75, my age, or is it more than a number? I went looking and found varying opinions for elderly. This article on NPR seemed pretty good-- if you want to be politically correct about it. [An Age-Old Problem].

Thursday, January 17, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Stretchy, Floppy failing support for collage

I embrace the freedom of working on the worst made canvas ever.  No fear of spoiling it.

Handmade papers I made and collected are glued down and covered with gloss medium. Lots of gloss medium!

When the paper dries, the papers might be lighter and more puckers will evolve, so I am eager to see what will evolve.

Update January 18 : my reaction to my beginning without a goal.

Last night; an inspiration and meaningful direction came in viewing Donna Watson's book, WABI SABI AND COLLAGE. I found a parallel in a my direction in philosophy plus one particular detail.  Rounded rocks and bundles of old cloth wrapped and tied by a cord. I was reminded of my father's values of keeping envelopes and files and when old mending them. All his important records he wrapped with a cotton cord and tied with a beautiful knot. The envelope in the collage held his naturalization certificate, the Declaration of Intention, Passport with the stamp proving legal entry, Social Security Card, and Draft Card. I love my father so much.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Update on light support for painting big

Painting large is physically and emotionally satisfying. It keeps me moving as I age. Only it is becoming more difficult to carry these heavy canvases especially displaying them publicly when windy Or even carrying them from house to shop in the process of painting they can become sales. Of course commercial light weight ones are too often warped. A well made, light weight, large canvas is hard to make with poor wood that is often crooked. The $7.00 Habitat For Humanity Resale store appeared to be amazing at first.
       The above the light weight support held by triangular pegboard corners and triangular quarter round glued to rough knotty wood turned out to disappoint me.  My great praise of it in my January 2nd post was premature.
        Removing the mildewed canvas left the support weakened. If glue had been part of the construction, it had loosened and the empty frame swayed threatening to come apart.  Never-the-less my husband started to stretch the very thin canvas. Thin canvas should be easier to stretch than canvas for awnings, so I thought.  The frame became more and more wobbly.  So Don nailed the corners midway through the stretching.
        I knew I had a problem when brushing the gesso on a canvas that stretched and stretched. It didn't even contract enough when dry. Removing staples from the worst side and stretching a second time helped slightly. Don added a center brace that helped a little more.
        The puckers could be covered by collage.
         I feel humble in my initial mistaken enthusiasm. I am feeling a bit discouraged about writing presuming to be an authority.


Saturday, January 12, 2019

settling in

by Rain Trueax

To be honest, I don't have much to say. Lots going on politically, but I prefer not writing about that-- bad enough to think about. So, where I am out of words, how about some pictures of life here in Tucson. 

Our first project is figuring out a change in our carport (it's deteriorating) due to weather, some mistakes in building it-- and termites.

We also are seriously looking at getting a fifth-wheel trailer after our experience driving south in December. The big trucks caused the trailer to sway, making the drive less than pleasant. I guess fifth wheels handle that better. 

Supposedly in California trucks should go the same speed as anyone pulling a trailer of any sort. Think they do that? Not so much...

Anyway, while my brain recuperates from the travel and some other things we are trying to work out, these are photos from our home, land here where we are enjoying the quail, javelina and birds as we try to settle in for a few months.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Sharing my paintings at the Corvallis Caring Place

 The Corvallis Caring Place residents and staff have shown so much appreciation that I continue to have the desire to make a good showing.
      To select paintings for the January through June exhibit, I lined up some by my family along with those of  local artists that were gifts, purchases or loans.  Most of these in the picture were selected to replace work that has been hanging in the north wing 1st floor for a year. I am thankful for being allowed me to share my collection that I do not have room to hang at home. Then when I am in the process of  hanging work, residents are eager to show me their art. I am happy these paintings add to life and joy and inspiration to so many.
Whenever I group my work or my collection together for a show, I make discoveries that please me. This time I discovered that I collect work that has a common theme. I favor subjects that are about light or the act of lighting. Rain Trueax's has chiaroscuro lighting from the bonfire.

Other works about light include a Nelson Sandgren print of  a man holding a sparkler on a very long rod. Also a reproduction of Lynn Powers watercolor portrait of  Pharaba gives me warm fuzzy feelings, I think come from the glowing eyes catching soft highlights.

In June when I will be changing these paintings I would like to share someone elses' not for sale collection.  If you have a couple ready to hang pieces that are not for sale and would like to hang them next week let me know because I am also making changes upstairs.
         Another exhibit  at the CCP January and February are 19 paintings  of mine hanging in the ground floor South Hall, an area changed every other month by the Corvallis Art Guild. From time to time I hang art with the Corvallis Art Guild.

Saturday, January 05, 2019


by Rain Trueax

I am a fan of documentaries. There are times when a movie just does not appeal to me. Almost always a good documentary will. On Amazon Prime New Year's Day night, we enjoyed 'When the Moors Ruled in Europe.' 
It's by a British historian looking at the architectural evidence for the Moorish presence in Spain from about 700-1500 AD. It presents a very different look at Muslims of that time and even today with the different ways Islam is seen. Beautifully filmed and quite interesting. This is the blurb for it:
'This program contends that the popular perception of the Muslim occupation of Spain toward the end of the first millennium is largely wrong. The eighth century Muslim invasion of the Iberian Pennisula was largely welcomed by the locals and rejuvenated the area with advanced technology, agriculture and a construction boom. This program describes these innovations. All this changed in the eleventh century when the regional government fragmented. That set the stage for the Christian invasion and the Islamic fundamentalist resistance leading to more of a civil war than a holy war that decimated the region with corruption, destruction and exile.'

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

by Diane Widler Wenzel: Triangle strong painting support discovered while cleaning studio

The certain tolerance that I have for chaos in our home reached a limit when I had to move very large paintings to get into a cabinet for frequently needed supplies ranging from sketch books to picture hanging wire. Worse yet too many painting rags, a large box of acrylic paints on the floor, because every inch of the work bench was covered and piled high. When starting to organize the mess, I didn't expect to discover a better engineered way to make stretcher bars for large paintings from the poor quality of second growth wood now available.
        Organizing my studio space is easier if I can eliminate some of the stuff in it first.
        Looking through my work, I could not bear to select a single picture to retire by making it into a floor covering, tablecloth, or into a practical useful thing. Sifting through my work and retiring a few at a time periodically strengthened the meaningfulness of my personal body of work. After years of sifting, I have come to the point where I feel almost all my remaining works are worthy of keeping.        There were, however, the two large ones leaning against the cabinet. They were from Habitat for Humanity for $7.00 each. I thought they would be good experiments or canvases I could use for play with neighborhood kids. So last summer I  prepared them by painting acrylic colored gesso over the original owner's paintings. A few weeks ago I experimented on one to figure out what combination of glasses or contact lenses would work over my cataract replacements focused for only near vision.  But the other canvas had mildew where it was water damaged. The neighbor kids did not come to paint yet on a damaged canvas. I didn't want to put a lot of effort into painting something that would not be healthy to hang in our home so I felt good about preparing it for the bonfire.  I ripped through the canvas with my utility knife and pried the canvas free. Then the rough knotty pine completely straight was revealed to my amazement

How could the stretcher bars be straight and true made from such rough knotty wood?  My experience was that clear straight grained wood is necessary to make a canvas that would hang flat on the wall. All the warped stretcher bars to my experience had knots.
          The secret was revealed - triangle strength.  The triangular shaped corners kept the corners square and the holes in the pegboard helped to keep the paintings light. For such a big canvas it is amazing that no brace bars were needed. Laminated to the wood is quarter round that has a triangular cross section with one side curved. the triangular shape also prevented the support from interfering with the painting. So strong is the combination of corners and the lamination that there is no need for elaborate brace bars which double the weight of commercial stretcher bars. Another plus to this construction is the relative thickness. I could store two of these to every one of the good commercially built frames this size.

The canvas under the stretcher bars is also usable. The mildewed portion is trimmed away. The rest of the canvas waits for the neighborhood children to come and play with it. The canvas is heavy enough to become an area floor covering or table protector if not wall hanging.