Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane, co-author Rainy Day Thought, where they write about experiences, ideas, nature, creativity, and culture. The latter might appear at times political, but we will try to avoid partisanship to speak to the broader issues that impact a culture. This is just too important a time not to sometimes speak to problems that impact society. As she and I do, readers will find we often disagree and have for over 50 years-- still able to be close friends. You can do that if you can be agreeable that we share more than not despite the difference.

Diane posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments, relating to the topic, are welcome as it turns an article into a discussion, but must be in English, with no profanity, hate-filled comments, or links (unless pre-approved).

Fantasy, the painting by Diane Widler Wenzel, cropped a little to fit the needs of a banner.





Wednesday, January 29, 2020

by Diane: Update #4, Inspirations incubating

Thank you Rain for putting up a detail of my painting, "Fantasy" as the blog header.   It is a female strong 2019 fantasy interpretation of Henri Rousseau's "The Dream".  It is still a painting in process. Missing is a monkey and tropical birds hiding in the tree. This change will not change this header.

Playing more with knots to plan the second in series.




 Sunday I anticipated some days this week would be so challenging that actual hands on involvement, even for a few minutes, would not be possible. When this post is published, my husband and I will hopefully be learning how he can heal after no improvement from the hiatal hernia repair 12 weeks ago.
Bok Choy
I love vegetables and fixing them.  I spend hours cooking for me and my husband, so as I cook I am preparing to paint. I continue to seek forms that speak to me.
Purple Cabbage
Some of the waste is just too precious to eat.
Last year we couldn't get the bok choy to grow. Maybe the heart will grow better than seeds so loved by the purple finch we invite into our yard by feeding them sunflower seeds.  Maybe these beauties will inspire new work.
                              
 
 Maybe the purple cabbage will be part of an assembliage. I have many ideas. Too many ideas are better than none. Maybe I can tie them together soon.

 
                      

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Ever as Before

by Rain Trueax




Looking for a new read that is a kind of magical realism just in time for Imbolc? How about throwing in a threat of the living dead? A particularly determined demon? Natural born witches, gnomes, warlocks, shamans-- this is, after all the 7th in the Mystic Shadows series of books that move beyond what we consider reality to something else. Might that something else be quantum physics? What if there is an alchemist aspect to how evil can be fought and contained? Imbolc is a good time for a story that is a mix of physical reality and romantic fantasy.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

by Diane; Update #3 How my changes in the studio and palettes make painting more relaxing during stressful times

The past three weeks after hanging 34 paintings at the Albany Publc Library, I have worked to make a space conducive to enjoying painting when I have limited small segments of time. I want to also be there for my husband whose hiatal hernia surgery eleven weeks ago has failed to relieve most of his symptoms. Currently there are many tests underway.  He is in good spirits.
          First, I cleared the clutter.  Too many tools! Nice to have them shelved in our shop.
          Second, I have several palette designs for testing. They each have limited colors. My palette keeps the acrylic paint soft without having to twist off caps and prepare the colors every time I paint.
          Third, for the sake of relaxation, I  reduced the necessity of making complex choices in the process of painting.  I choose only one painting tool on the second painting - the back end of a foam bullet found on one of our neighborhood streets.  
           To be worked out  for the next painting: how to find the most expressive handeling of the bullet.
            Fourth, best of all, I did not need to clean brushes. Too often in the past I left brushes with acrylic paint drying and sticking to the hair.
 

Plastic clam shell from the bakery accommodates 3 jars 
left over from Yoplait's Oui yogurt.

Also fitting into the clam shell are fruit cups, small Tupperware,
and of course one pint size paint jar.
The clam shell is easy to close when I need to instantly drop painting.
to be helpful to my husband.

 

  The canvas board of the first painting was too textured
 for crisp stamped marks.
 I saved the painting by increasing the punch of  yellow and red.
I reverted from my goal and returned to my old ways of resolving paintings.
In the second painting, "Three Color Ability of Knots", I achieved a more relaxing painting time.
On the second one
The second, lower right is on
unfinished wood.




Saturday, January 18, 2020

Not part of the plan

by Rain Trueax



Well, that last hero was pretty normal-- if being a billionaire is normal. How about a hero who has some unusual habits-- like shifting into an animal? A rock star who wants out of that life? A man with a love that he left due to his frightening secrets? What if his deceased mother was Navajo and that land is still in his blood? What if he has an enemy out to destroy him? Hey, why not!

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

by Diane: Update #2 - Getting started painting


 
I am going about managing my paints like the Tibetan monk I met in 2002. Like the monk my  tools are made of materials in my easy reach. The monk's paint pots are an assortment of recycled containers. His brushes were handmade with stick handles. I am making a brush cleaner from what I can glean - plastic jar and void credit card.
We are using different paint. Mine is acrylic and cannot be reconstituted after drying like his. So I need to keep the paint moist in a sealed container.


The off white plastic clam shell take out containers 
are from China Delight Restaurant in Corvallis.
Balanced on the partitions are smaller plastic containers
gleaned from our recyclables. Two are the molded plastic
from Reach dental floss
and the larger ones in the middle are from hardware packaging.
The added small containers leave ample space below and above.
Below is space for a water reservoir to keep the humidity high
enough to keep the paint moist when the clam shell is closed. 
The dome shape above is spacious enough for sticks to remain in each color.
The plastic Daniel Smith paint jar was fitted with a paint brush scrapper cut out from a void credit card.
The small canvas board is where I am testing brushes sticks and stamps made of found objects.
 
In preliminary testing of a partially filled palette, I find I have some failures.
My scrapper failed. Thicker paint stuck to the credit card when theoretically I expected all paint to fall into the jar. Just pressure balanced the credit card when pushed to hard fell into the paint below.
Next week I will bend a stiff wire to stand high up in the paint scrapping jar.

                                
My start looks ugly to me so far. Will keep trying.
   

Saturday, January 11, 2020

It's Complicated

By Rain Trueax


What if? Do you know how many ideas for books begin with-- what if. The next thought can be-- ridiculous, but sometimes it's-- why not! 


Why not have a hero who is named after an ancestor who did evil during his lifetime? Why not have that man be the very soul who has lived lives between the evil one in an attempt to get his lives on a healthier course? How much of that outlaw violence would carry over into the one he's now living? Can someone really change their soul through the lives they choose? Since they won't remember those earlier lives, how much do they impact today's choices? What if he has spiritual helpers who have come along for the ride but that he doesn't see or want to hear?

These are the questions raised in Complicated Bargain-- third of the Hemstreet Witch books, now in a series called Mystic  Shadows.

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

by Diane: Update #1: My process in making a new painting goal

Clearing the way for an exciting new direction 

 is one of the best parts of exhibiting my paintings.


Studio before hanging my exhibit


 

Thirty paintings stacked against the wall

waited to be hung at Albany Public Library January 5 - February





Love seeing my work in a large space like the library! The spaciousness of the library gives me a different perspective in which to self-judge my direction!
With a good many of my paintings gone, I have room to clean and organize my work space. 
   For my quest to make a resolution  in addition to house cleaning, I watched the DVD Netflix documentary, "Monk with a Camera."  For me, an admirer of Buddhist philosophy, but with no plan of becoming Buddhist, a movie about a convert stimulated my questioning the psychological health of playing with art as I do.



Inspired by my 2002 painting
of a China /Tibet
 monk's studio, I am removing all
but the most necessary 
tools from my work space
to make a  relaxing,
 soothing, contemplative,
painting place.
 Easy to use while I continue
 as a care giver
the next two months.
 
        
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
"Monk with a Camera" is a 1914 documentary about the spiritual journey of photographer Nicholas Vreeland, the grandson of Vogue magazine editor, Diana Vreeland and Ambassador Frederich Vreeland. Nicholas rejected the life style of privilege that he was born to especially the glitz and expectations of high society.  Seeking the advise of the Dalai Lama, he moved to India where he in earnest studied at the Rato Dratsang Monastery.
      
        He worried that the more he took pictures, the more he would want to take them.  Making art would be intoxicatingly presumptuous of his importance. As a monk, in contrast to being a photographer, his identity was abandoned first by shaving his head of hair. Without hair on his head he felt in a sense naked of identity. He lived a sparse existence with only the most necessary things needed to live. He gave up his immaculate perfectly polished expensive shoes. After years of being a monk when charged with elitism because he was polishing his sandals like he used to polish his shoes showing off his elite superiority.  He explained the difference,"Polished sandals last longer." 
          As a monk if he spent his time taking pictures, he would be thinking as a photographer even without a camera in his hands.  If he was thinking like an artist photographer much of the time, his ego would be gratified so gretly that he would wipe away the humility of being a monk. In becomming a monk ones former identity is abandoned and individualism does not exist. Photography in addition would become an addiction.
      
         In my opinion being immersed in a pictorial art form is transforming  my values. I gradually  become resistant to advertisements. I do not desire most material things. The longer I have marketed my paintings for sale, the less my ego feels stroked by sales and more and more my art is about sharing my experience.

         Maybe I should take from Niki's first Buddhist teacher Kyonal Rato who at age 80 bought a chest full of windup music boxes in the shape of stuffed animals. He enjoyed orchestrating the play of these boxes to make a pretend musical show. And at more than 90 years of age he took child-like pleasure with his toys but kept them segregated from most of his life. His separating play just like the young Tibetan students at the monastery who played a board game on Mondays.  The China Tibetan Monks also were playing "football" (soccer). Buddhist Monks play. And  I feel confirmed in my art journey. Shouldn't I consider painting serious play fulfilling a basic human need to play?
 
       Another Netflix video "ADVANCED STYLE" by Ari Seth Cohen has one parallel philosophy - "Money cannot buy style."  The video exposes the under recognized fashion sense of individuality in seven women in their 60's through 90's. They embrace shopping to build outfits expressing themselves as art. They flourish showing they are better than the advertised merchandise trying to sell the latest fad to all.  They have found the zest of being alive and vibrant in the  same New York City that Nicki rejected.
         The ladies of "ADVANCED STYLE" celebrated the importance of being individuals while Nicholase Vreeland rejected the importance of the individual when he became a monk.
 
       Also pertinent to my considering a different direction for this period of care giving is a Great Courses selection, "THE SHAPE OF NATURE" of lectures by Professor Satyan L. Devados inwhich the most important concept is that form and function is interrelated.  For me as an artist, the design of my studio space is the form in which my art making is the function. 
       In my next update, I plan to share my self critic of my work at the library and hopefully show  progress in rearranging my studio. Maybe even new paintings.

 

 

Saturday, January 04, 2020

Black swans What do you think?

by Rain Trueax



As a writer, I am always fascinated by terms I hadn't known. Such a one came to me this year-- black swan.

Definition: A black swan is an unpredictable event that is beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially severe consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, their severe impact, and the practice of explaining widespread failure to predict them as simple folly in hindsight.

Some take them only to be about major institutions or events that impact a whole culture or even the world. I think they can be seen as also about our individual lives.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

by Diane: New Decade/ New Year's look at my life as an artist

 Before considering my resolutions, this decade, this year, I question my life as a practicing artist. In my current stage of life going on 77 years of age in 2020, I consider my age and the changing of our living location or remaking our home to suit our needs - an expected soon to be reality.  Plus all the conditions of the world around me need to be considered. Putting aside immediate issues for awhile, I consider some hypothetical possibilities far from my reality.
      How would I practice art if I was a Yellow Hat Tibetan Monk? Will such an improbable question stimulate an enlightened goal?

What is missing from the monk's painting paraphernalia?
 No rags? No large container of water to clean brushes?
No container of many brushes?
Only a thermos for his tea and another for water to add to his paint?
Only stir sticks in paint pots to keep paint at the exactly right creamy consistency.
Are the sticks in each color pot tipped with a brush head down in the paint?
Do I remember a few hand made brushes?
 If he uses a different brush for each color, the purity of his colors would be maintained
without contaminating cleaning water or rag. He will not contaminate the environment.
His method insures no waste of precious mineral colors.
Can a brush remain in a gouache type paint without ever being cleaned?
Did he paint with sticks?
Do I see a receptacle for scraping off and collecting excessive paint before applyication?
Knowing his exact working method does not matter.
I have an idea of how I can change my work space process.
 

      I remember my first impression of the artist monk August 13, 2002, at the Drepung Monastery in China, Tibet. Seeing his fascination with my sketches and pen, I handed him a brush pen that I was using. He wanted to try it and I gave it to him for keeps. In my sketch book he drew a self portrait. Later at home I painted Pintolanden ( my poor phonetic spelling of his name). I clearly remember my impression because when I came home, I painted him. His studio was rich in color. I was impressed how cozy he was in stark contrast to the desolate landscape outside. Above all I wanted to work from color pots like his.
The monk's drawing of himself.
 I never explored the meaning of his pose.
Or the meaning of his Buddhist name.
My painting reflects how suited his work space was
to making Thangkas. It should be an ideal space
for meditative, spiritual painting
but I saw this space was impacted
by the world of soda pop and clutter of
plastic bags from recent shopping.
Over his robes he wore a sweater
and under his robes - sweat pants.
He had Western style running shoes.
 On the floor was an open paperback book.
Possibly a corrupting novel?
 
        Historically monks painted meditatively soothed by repeating the same traditional details with minimal need to make independent choices. All their colors were spread out in little pots so they could paint continuously without interruptions to prepare the next color. So impressed, was I that I found a couple of clam shell plastic boxes in which I put  a quarter cup of each acrylic color. I grouped colors that I often mix together. Spritzing them with water whenever they start to dry, these colors remained workable for months. Now I see much more that I can use from the monk's art process.
       On a deeper level, I was impressed in 2002 by the impact of the world on the Tibetan painter, "Pintoladen". He was not isolated from the world.  Tourists like me must be interrupting his work rhythm. He was making thangkas not just for the monastery and local Buddhists but for tourists who may or may not be on a Buddhist spiritual journey. The sale of his work along with other spiritual items made at the monastery supported the monastery in today's world driven by money. Today's world is not perfect.  Neither would returning to a theocracy be better. In by gone ages, the peasants provided for the the ruling monastery.Now it is moneyfrom maybe the Chinese government and tourists.
        At home in 2002  I failed to think of our core similarities and differences until now when I watched a film about a Buddhist convert. Next Wednesday's post will be a review of "A Buddhist with a Camera".

In the next couple of Wednesday posts,
 I will update what kind of art and how I make my work space
comfortable and workable.