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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Fairy Tales for Grown Ups

by Rain Trueax

Recently during a good conversation about many things, a friend told me she was unwilling ever to read my paranormals. She has been supportive of my romances, but a world with demons and monsters was a bridge too far. My mind is much on these books since I finished the rough draft of my seventh in a series called Mystic Shadows.

I didn't ask her specifically about what she feared from them because that's her business. If she's uncomfortable with something, then that's enough reason. I can think of possible reasons she might have concerns, which led to this blog.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

by Diane, Overcoming painter's block recipe - benefits and shortcommings

Starting July 31st my past four Wednesday blogs were about the development of two similar paintings.

I declare them finished this week.  At least for the foreseeable future!  Their titles might be  MY DREAM #1 and #2. The  recipe for these combined three entities - our garden, a painting surface already covered with textured paint.  Henri Rousseau's painting, THE DREAM was an interesting start because I enjoyed the lush forest.

The first painting has more of Rousseau's symbolism that led me to see changes in meanings of symbolism between 1910 and today. Also needed a larger surface. In the second painting.  DREAM #2  became more personal with symbolism from  life closer to my home garden.

One of  the personal symbols was my husband Don's and my sculpture of Nessie.  I wanted to commemorate my wild garden that we both created but will be replaced by easier to maintain plants in a drier climate.

 Another entity in my formula is the surface. DREAM #2 was painted on top of an incomplete abstract became the surface. I borrowed much of the original abstract for the overall coloring of the painting.

 This week I attempted to resolve MY DREAM.


Mine symbolizes mystery and female renewed, creative flow.

Rousseau's has female symbolism of renewal, peace plus esoteric mystery.

Some of the subjects are shared and  may have different symbolism.
Mermaid by our front door

 Summation of the benefits and critic of my experimental recipe to banish painter's block

This new adventure followed a dry spell when the sightings of foxes abruptly terminated my last series of immediate reactions to what I was seeing of them.  Hopefully the foxes went closer to the river where their pray wouldn't be warned by the snapping of dry grass. As we saw fewer and fewer fox we worried that the mountain lion sighted in our neighborhood took them.

Writing was a positive part of my process keeping me thinking, photographing, and researching origins and symbolism of plants and animals. Writing about the experience, I want to add in retrospect, was as important as the three entities in the formula to overcome painter's block. A fifth entity is a strategy of determining when the painting is finished.

 If  the summer had not dried up the garden plants,  if the yellow jackets did not pester me, if I wasn't about to pack for travel, I would have been tempted to add some birds, and define the pears and peaches, or add surreal Koi fish flying about.  Adding more was becoming work instead of fun. So my final hours of painting was devoted to looking at the abstract composition of color values, compositional contrast to bring some flowers and the snake to more dominance. I made the background darker and more purple to help to make the moon more noticeable.

I am happy with the painting.  Thank you Rain for making me a co-author here.
Stay tuned. In October I foresee another need for a painter's block formula. Painter's block often occurs after life's interruptions.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

the heart and the catalyst

by Rain Trueax

Another interesting dream that I am still mulling over with two symbols that seemed possible to have meaning.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

by Diane: It's a bird? Two monkeys? No, a pair of three toed sloths?

Rousseau's mysterious painting is a license for me to be mysterious. 

What animals are above the nude in Rousseau's THE DREAM?
For two weeks into finding inspiration from THE DREAM,
I still assumed, without looking closely, the light orange with a gray streak was one exotic bird.
After reading that there are two monkeys, I examined the painting more closely.
One howler monkey is just left of the snake charmer, maybe.
Above the nude, in my opinion, are  ambiguous profiles. Two smiley faced sloths?

Being open to mystery, symbols of female strength, and the lushness of a jungle are three take aways from Rousseau's THE DREAM. 

I am making a fresh start midway in completing my painting. Out of sight is Rousseau's painting.  My painting is about making my own choices.  I want to celebrate my wild garden before allowing my husband to take the garden in his preferred direction - planned order. With the drier summers I agree with him that we need to plant according to the new normal.  Besides trimming away at my jungle is not sustainable.

The three entities from my recipe to overcome painter's block are again each of equal importance. They are an unfinished canvas with thick rectangular strokes of oil paint, our flowers and  Henri Rousseau's THE DREAM.  In process I am distracted from my attention to painting foliage, flowers and fruit.  People and animals are more in my comfort zone and I find it laborious working on plants. The thick impasto makes it difficult to paint leaves and flowers. I do not scrape the thick paint away very often because I want to paint in my style - not Rousseau's.
My husband's and my flower garden was worth celebrating.  I loved seeing biennials reseed themselves and pop up in quirky places. Our  Snapdragon seeds germinated between rocks or in a crack in a rock. New relationships of color and shape were gifts to discover rather than control. For two years the rock was a planter for Snapdragons; This year Cosmos  took hold in the rock. Our garden was like escaping into a dream where plants had personalities.  A Geranium originating from Northern Africa dyed as the Cosmos originating from Mexico fell over it.  Many Cosmos sprouts from years past popped up around the failing Geranium.

 Doing research I found that some of our flowers are from Africa like the Gladiolas. The glads grow many small bulblets that are impossible to remove once they get started. So many small starts sprout each year along with second year bulbs creating a dense patch of  vertical spiked leaves like they grow on the foothills below Mount Kilimanjaro.  The Amaryllis Belladonna Lily  with several other common names as Naked Ladies originated from South Africa. Symbolically the lily was named after Amaryllis, a love struck nymph in Greek mythology. Or as another source goes into detail Amaryllis was a Shepherdess in the Greek "Amrysso" in Virgil's pastoral "Elogus".
A portrait of a  nineteenth century British-American actress born in Jersey Island, Lillie Langtry was painted by Frank Miles. She had an Amaryllis Belladonna in her hair. Miles called the painting Jersey Lily. Because of her fame, the lily is often called Jersey Lily.

In my painting I decided to replace the first nude with a mermaid. We have a mermaid sheet metal sculpture by our front door for years. Amazing that I never cared about what she symbolized. Not any more! I looked up her symbolic meaning. According to a tattoos web site, Bydie, "Mermaids can signify this particular sweet freedom of life, helping us pay tribute to our primordial home.  By singing her song, the mermaid beckons us to return to the calm ( and at times turbulent) water, and seems to promise our protection if we follow."  Another reference found on the Internet is from Carl Yung's theory. He says that  mermaids are associated with spiritual messengers of transformation.  Messengers for things associated with the spiritual element of water; Emotion and inspiration. People often associate them as something that touches them deep in their souls. For my painting I would like an aquatic symbol of creative transformation away from painter's block.

My painting is about painter's block and the wish to return to a flowing art process. So the water in the painting symbolizes to me my painting flow. There are many other less meaningful for me symbolic meanings for waterfalls, streams, and oceans and so on. I like water in the Biblical context of  regeneration and renewal.

Geraniums also surround the mermaid. They break up her body making her less dominate  while the Geraniums are more immediately recognized. Geraniums usually symbolize happiness, positive emotions, friendship or wishes for good health.

This week I am continuing to be selective with how I present the symbolic significance of images in the rest of the painting. Perhaps i will pull out the mermaid to make her more significant.

 I have a strong desire to keep to my original recipe of making my painting process more personally rewarding spawning new ideas and greater engagement in the painting process.  I am continuing to connect with both our flower garden, and the heavy palette knife  textures from an unfinished abstract. If Rousseau was a catalyst for Picasso and the Surrealism, I can tap into Rousseau's naive style as well.

By this weekend the paint will be dry enough so the last efforts in pushing and pulling images will be doable on this thick impasto painting.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

dreams and Uranus

by Rain Trueax

central Arizona photo

Astrologers say the planet Uranus went retrograde (whatever that means), and from between the 11th and 12th   of August until January 2020 it will be a time of intensity (like the world needs more of that...) and a time to look for omens and synchronicities. 

So dreams fit under that category, right? The night of the 12th, I had two dreams that were kind of linked and kind of not. That I remembered both when I woke up is a little unusual for me. I generally just hold onto one, the last one. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

by Diane; Henri Rousseau's THE DREAM painting and my textured surface ecliped inspiration from my garden

The 12' square canvas board last week made me feel tight. I did not possess the skill to render a miniature of Rousseau-like foliage. So this week I worked on a larger  24" x 36" stretched canvas but thankfully the palette knife textured surface forbid the fine detail of Rousseau's jungle painting.

Before cataract surgery the painting appeared more gray than lavender.
The grays made it more cohesive. Now I considered it unfinished
so I turned it upside down and started painting another version of  "The Dream". 

 I am comfortable keeping to my impressionistic style of the landscape when using Rousseau's work as a reference. Not tediously painting every leaf led me to consider his story content.


Le reve exotiqu or Le Songe, 1910
From my perspective in 2019, almost 120 years after Rousseau's painting was completed, the rainbow skirt had me wondering what was the relationship between the African snake charmer and the nude. Unintentionally my nude kept wanting to be flirtaceous - eying the snake charmer. The nude's head was on top of a bright red splotch from the old abstract.  The bright splash of color gave the impression of flowers in her hair like Frieda Kahlo, a sexually free experimenter. I kept trying unsuccessfully to make the charmer masculine. Furthermore the orange tree with ripe fruit reminded me of Miriam's orange.  Maybe with all the wild animals and foliage my painting wants to be a lesbian Paradise paralleling Adam and Eve. Or maybe Yadwigha is an enticing  mermaid.  I started researching Rousseau's painting on line.
Henri Rousseau wrote a poem to  explain his painting. Another explanation he gave was that the nude was on a couch in Paris dreaming she is in an African jungle.  Below is the translation from  French in Wikipedia.

The  Dream
Yadwigha is a beautiful dream
Having fallen gently to sleep
Heard the sounds of a musette
Played by a well intended snake charmer.
As the moon reflected
On the rivers or flowers), the verdant trees,
The wild snakes lend an ear
To the joyous tunes of the instrument.

Yadwigha was Henri Rousseau's Polish mistress from his youth.
Symbolically the  curve of  Yadwigha's thigh and leg parallel
 the similar curve repeated in the snake. Symbolically meaning
that Yadwigha was the other snake in his picture
both soothed and made docile with joyful music.


My painting is a day dream.- not a night dream like Rousseau's.  

 In Rousseau's painting the snake charmer was African with dark skin in the shadows of night while the nude was in the light. In 2019, I don't want to put dark skinned people in the shadows compared to the lighter skinned people because in my times diminishing the value of a person by putting them in the shadows is a hateful practice. Furthermore my painting is symbolically about celebration and light. In Rousseau's times the rainbow skirt was symbolic of peace. Since 1978 in San Francisco, Gilbert Baker made the first LGBTQ rainbow flag.

 I fell into a fascinating twist suggestive of another kind of Adam and Eve story. This detour amused me in the development of a painting celebrating my love of the wildness of my flower garden.  My painting took another turn back to  the inspiration from our flower garden. I removed the nude.  The lions remained because there are mountain lion sightings in our neighborhood. The The deer were very nervous this week so the running lavender colored deer remained.

My ending painting block idea worked.  Taking three unrelated inspirations and bringing them together makes me excited to see what happens next week!


Saturday, August 10, 2019


by Rain Trueax

For writers there is the constant consideration of -- write for the market or write from their own heart. Unless it's a hobby, making money at writing has to be a consideration. Sometimes a writer gets lucky and what the market already wants is what they enjoy writing-- definitely fortuitous. A writer might write to their own heart and hit a zeitgeist-- a time when the winds change, and they ride the first wave.  

This is on my mind today because I finished the rough draft for the last book for a series that hasn't found a market. These books are twice as long as some of the best selling books, where novellas are so popular. I could have written two or maybe three books in the same time. So why write longer books? Why not look at what is selling and try to create my own version of it? Why when I see that my historicals sell better, set a series in contemporary times?

There are reasons for all of that. Of course, one is the hope that this story from my heart will find readers who will love it as much as I have loved writing it.  It's kind of a weird thing how I put off writing more than a couple of chapters for over a year from when I had brought out the fourth in that series. I believe this was the right time for writing it. It's a better story than it would have been  if I'd jumped right in after the fourth. I learned things about the characters that I might've missed back then.

However, a delay like this is another of those no-no's if someone wants to sell books-- regular production is important to keep a market waiting for the next one. A year off and who but me cares that I am writing it now. That wasn't a question lol.

Wednesday, August 07, 2019

by Diane: Simple recipe for painter's block

The roll of fox paintings was interrupted by my husband's gall bladder surgery. On Saturday the day after surgery he did well. We enjoyed a brief visit from daughter Melinda, Mark and Madisen being available in case we needed anything. We sure appreciate their love. As the days passed he could not sit around and constantly he was on the go giving me time to paint.
The fox is not visiting the dry field however.
Furthermore many of my observations were about violent encounters of wildlife.
Doing more violent paintings has no inspiration for me after the mass shootings last weekend.


Working in the flower garden before my husband's surgery was an obvious starting point for new paintings.

 One catalyst for creating something new is making connections between unrelated things. Making a visual connection between absurdities.
 I found a used surface - a partially finished abstract watercolor started in Ruth Armitage's workshop on Approaching the Abstract.
 I set up in my front yard where I could be inspired by our flowers. Even if my husband has a different aesthetic for the flower garden cleaning up my preference for a jungle garden, I could at least paint a jungle like Henri Rousseau's "The Dream".
Only "The Dream" is 6' 8 1/2" x 9' 9 1/2".  The forms in the large painting compressed to my small 12" square surface became a challenge more difficult than my ability to render.  I first painted the nude in the water departing from Rousseau's.  The abstract pipe cleaner marks like water in a stream became more dominate in the painting than "The Dream" and my flower garden. I decided to play with  the nude in the stream.

The lily at center took away from the flow of the stream. With some paint thinner on a rag I easily removed the lily. Removal was easy because of how well
 I had covered the watercolor with acrylic medium.
The theme for this painting will be continued
 on a medium sized 22''x28" canvas with another abstract already on the surface.
Maybe I will come back and paint more bubbles inspired by the circles in the original abstract. The bubbles are blown form the golden flute. Also will judge if this painting is racist because the dark skinned flutter is in a darker part of the painting.

Saturday, August 03, 2019

serendipity and a sculpture

by Rain Trueax

Now and again, I talk about serendipity and how I welcome such times. Well, everybody welcomes such times since it means an occurrence or series of events that play out in a beneficial way. Kind of a lucky chance. Serendipitous times are nothing I can predict, nor will I have done anything to make them happen. Often they are little things.