Tuesday, November 30, 2010


If there's anyone out there who can tell me what the secret is to arranging photos on these pages, I'd sure appreciate the suggestions. They fight and fight to go where they want to go. I have given up. I will write around them.

I decided, clear back in August when I made all these reservations, that after my first 4 weeks here I would head home to Pasco for my first 1 week long school break. It ended up being a glitch in the schedule the school sent out - actually, only my Monday class was canceled that week, so I actually missed my Drawing and Painting classes. That was okay, though I hated missing my Painting class because we met at the Met and the teacher walked us through some masterpieces. How I would have loved to have been there!
The next 4 weeks were spent with much less worrying about where I was and how to get places (it really is pretty small and compact and with the street numbering - you never are really lost) and much more settling in and enjoying this crazy place.

Then came Thanksgiving week, where I missed my Monday class, Sculpture, to fly for the whole week to Omaha to spend with my parents and 4 of my 6 sisters. It was such a quiet, pleasant visit and we spent a lot of time planning on where we were going to eat dinner the next day and then going to Pam's to eat her dinners. The group has grown substantially as both of Pat's kids, Melissa and Greg, have now moved to Nebraska and Pam's Erica moved there from Chicago as well. Melissa married Matthew and now has a little baby, Steven, and Greg is now engaged to Lindsay and Erica is engaged to Nate. Everyone came to just about every dinner so I had a great opportunity to get to know them and enjoy some large family dinners.

My favorite time is spent later in the evenings just watching TV and visiting with my parents and walking through the backyard to Pat's to sit and chat with her for hours and then spending a whole day with Pam who jumped in and helped me put some walls on this floor plan on the SIMS house. I wish I had had more time with Stacey but she's just starting a business that took a lot of her time and she is far more a 'group' person than me so we visited 'en masse'. Kathy missed Thanksgiving dinner because of a migraine but she came over a lot, though I am so very worried about the fact that she can't see 4" in front of her and yet, she drives a car!
It really was a great, fun way to spend the week and I realized, when I got back, that I was down to just 3 weeks left here. Today, is 2 weeks - and the countdown begins.


I hoped to be able to take tons of photos of Central Park in lots of different seasons (like no one ever did that before?) and here are my 'Fall' ones. I hope I'm here when it snows but it has been so nice and mild so far (just the exact opposite to my snowy home in WA) I really doubt I will get those photos. I do plan to get SPRING shots, however...


So here's the deal. When I first got here, I colored my hair crazy - this skunk stripe on the top of my head, but my hair was still naturally curly.

It is so humid around here (and it rains this light drizzle a lot) that my hair was becoming just one big pile of fuzz. I started looking for a diffuser so I could try to keep the curls and reduce the fuzz but couldn't find one anywhere! I walked into a little hair salon just across the street from my apartment asking for one and ended up in the 'chair' discussing Keratin treatments to make the curls smooth and shiny (imagine - smooth and shiny? 2 words you would NEVER use to describe my hair!). This guy was a smooth talking salesman and after complaining about how much I've already spent on the color and how I wasn't about to spend more on 'smooth and shiny' he assured me that this treatment would literally, "change my life". A seller of dreams. A twister of words.

So I did it (ya, I'm a sucker) and I must admit, it changed my life. My hair is great! I IS smooth and shiny! It IS breaking off (especially where it is so blond) because this treatment is really hard on it but it doesn't frizz up AT ALL! Not even when I'm walking around for hours in this off and on light drizzle - I don't even THINK about it! I am no longer a giant head of fuzz! It is no longer thick and full - it's skinny and my barrettes and clips actually fall out of it instead of fail to clamp through it. It is NOT, however, curly, anymore. What was this guy thinking? You put the product in it then flat iron it until it penetrates so deep, those little hairs wouldn't THINK about curling. So I guess curls go with fuzz and straight goes with shiny. I will continue looking for the shiny curly treatment.

Friday, November 19, 2010


I thought I had a
plan - man, am I a good one for plans! Give me a schedule, give me a rule and I'll follow it to a 'T'! I started out about 1 to pick up my glasses (YEA!!!) and then grab some laundry soap (at the CVS drugstore - weird) drop them off at home and head out, making my way to 8th St. and my Drawing Class by 6:30. I ended up hanging out across the street from the new Ralph Lauren flagship store talking to Erica on the phone. I have determined this is my favorite building in this city and think this man has more taste than even Armani - yep, just decided that. Here are just a couple of the hundreds of photos I have taken of this place.

Then I stopped at the Gap because I have a coupon for 45% off one item on this particular day and I can't pass that up. Again, I'm sitting on an employee step ladder talking to Erica. We are having a great time preparing for her coming here in just another day. We are both a little nervous about her Metro trip from JFK airport to my apartment. It should take an hour and 4 minutes (according to Google Maps) and there are a few train changes and dang, if there might just be a few wrong turns but HANG IN THERE ERICA - just keep walking. Honest, you DO eventually, get there. She gets in at 5:20 in the morning so hopefully, it will not be dark when she sets out on her adventure!

I ended up back at my apartment a little tired from the last couple days of walking for miles and miles - though it is SO SO great. The day before I ended up in Chelsea - way south and on the west side of Manhattan and discovered an area of fun, outside flea markets, old factories gutted and turned into little shops and some fabulous bakeries and tile shops. Instead of heading out today, I took a break and sat at my computer for a while until it was time for class and little dinner before - a piece of pizza from my favorite spot just outside the subway station on the way to school. $1 gets you a hot, fresh piece of cheese pizza and it's the BEST!

The first 45 minutes of Drawing Class is spent on 2 minute poses where you draw fast with an old fashion ink pen and bottle of ink. Then the next 45 minutes is spent looking at the teacher's pile of drawing books while he goes over the drawings one by one sharing some great insights. My apartment is getting filled with incredible art books because of this guy! Then the model strikes one pose for the rest of class and we got about half an hour to draw and make things really dark because Lee Tribe (the teacher) wanted to demonstrate how to 'remove' ink and pen from your drawing. I really liked my drawing but realized it wasn't black enough so I went to town with the paint brush and India ink and pretty much ruined it. Oh well - it's an exercise!
We took a 20 minute break then came back and he showed us how to remove these marks. He is so funny. He is SO messy - he's got water all over his work area, his hands are all black, his drawing is a disaster - it's like a little kid with finger paints! When he erases, he just does it randomly - huge areas. I need to go back to his website to see what the end results look like. So, I went to town on my drawing, removing stuff and putting stuff back in. The model was squirmy, which doesn't help - man, it's important that these guys hold still and stick with the pose! I'm sure they're college students picking up some extra money and they don't realize how hard the job is... She kept moving her legs, so those are weak but I feel like I conveyed some 'volume'. Only TWO more classes to go.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Saturday, went to Oil Painting Class and worked for the third week on the giant 4'x4' painting. We have one more week but the model 'mentioned' to the teacher at the end of class that she might not make it next week! WHAT?! Might as well tell us we're changing rooms! She's a pretty important part of our paintings, to say the least, and we were all planning on 4 weeks on this painting. I forgot to take a photo, will take it at the beginning of class next week and hopefully, we have a model...

Sunday I headed to 23rd Street and Restoration Hardware. They're having a big sale and I'm not sure why I thought I had to go there during a sale - I'm not buying anything - but I guess it tells you the power that word has over me. It was as busy as can be - TONS of people - but it's a beautiful store and it makes a huge difference to actually see these things in person. I had gone through their catalog and marked some items I thought would be great in this SIMS house but when I was there, some things were very different in person. I HAVE to remember this. Too many times I have been just a little disappointed when the actual item got to my house after buying it online. There are too many options out there to not end up with exactly what you want. I found a little book filled with photos of great bathrooms that I bought for $13 across the street and that's great fun plus I bought a box of scented amber, that is really beautiful and smells great - for my Mom for Christmas. I think my Mom would be happier if I found a box in the gutter, cleaned it up and filled it with old plastic containers - she's a tough one...

Monday was SO fun (hey, what day isn't around here?)! I left the apartment at 2 to walk to class and just spend the day going from E. 64th St. to W. 8th St. and my sculpture class at 6:30. That's about 3.4 miles (I googled it) but what fun along the way! I stopped at 'MOOD' - the fabric store the contestants shop at on 'Project Runway' - and bought some GREAT fabric (and a gift for my sewing grandaughter) and Ann Sacks Tile. Ann Sacks started in Portland, so that was a little crazy (I've been to their store there) so I may want to find a NY tile store while I'm on the east coast. Then ended up at sculpture class and made this:

Sculpture is not my favorite thing, though it is fun and a great way to learn volume and depth and dimensions - length from here to here, etc. - but I can tell I am getting a little bored with it. Maybe it's because all we do is heads and even though doing this same head TWICE in a row made it that much quicker and easier to see the form, I'm a little tired of it. I will miss the class next Monday - I'm heading to Omaha for Thanksgiving - so that leaves only 2 classes left. Holy Smoke! Imagine. I'm down to TWO more sculpture classes...

Today, I am going to a gallery to check out the John Currin paintings because my painting teacher asked us to. It is a little rainy and overcast out but I'll just put on my raincoat, hood and boots and take off. Lucky for me I got the 'Keratin' treatment for my hair and it won't frizz all over! I get compliments on my hair every day. Yesterday, just walking down the street, a guy on a bike brushes by and hollers out - 'love your hair!'. Weird. I wonder if he meant me, come to think of it...

Friday, November 12, 2010


Fun, Fun, Fun. Man, I LOVE this stuff - it's almost as good as painting! This teacher is a NUT about drawings and he spends easily 45 minutes of every class bringing in books and showing us great drawings and what is beautiful about them and I get tired standing there, but he's right - it's a great way to learn about what makes a beautiful drawing.

I am struggling with depth, I see, because all of these seem so flat and they need to go BACK in space and come FORWARD in space and they aren't doing that. I think I can do that with the thick or thinness of the line and the darkness of the shadows - the closer things could be darker and more detailed. I am drawing a lot of the stuff around the figure, which I understand is so important but it is not doing anything to give the drawing volume. Hmmm, I will ask Mr. Lee about that next week...

Here are 3 drawings - the first 1 is a 20 minute drawing where they set the timer for 5 minutes and when it goes off, you have to change media.

The second one is done the same way but I chose some heavy stuff first off and that doesn't work, nor does the red conte crayon - I'm too heavy handed with the side of it. I like using the white conte as an 'eraser' and think it helped soften it some.

The third one was a 20 minute drawing with no timer - change as we please - and I grabbed the things I like the best - the ink pen and the washes. I like drawing initially with the ink pen and being really loose about it because all those lines really add to the final product. It's fun to then go in with the washes and bring out the shadows and finish with the heavy black line - though I have to be careful not to take this time to 'outline' the items in the drawing. I LIKE this one - I even signed it and wonder if that means I'll frame it when I get home. Yep. Great memories.

I would like to go back to my outdoor 'Plaza' drawing and bring in some black ink now and leave the background light and airy. We'll see if I can pull that off. Again, the goal is to give it some volume - bring this forward and push things back. Don't forget.

Thursday, November 11, 2010


Here are photos of my latest sculpture. It is interesting to do this - it takes so much thought and concentration (actually more like concentrating on NOT thinking). There is a guy in my class who hardly looks at the model and he is frantically working hard at making a head. He gets all the things right - the neck, the cranium, the eye sockets, the nose, but it doesn't ever look anything like the model. It reminds me that it is the most powerful tendency - to not look but to assume. To know what a nose basically looks like and put it in the middle of something that looks like a face.

This reminds me of our first day in class, our first model was a small black girl with very interesting, ethnic features. At the end of the day when we all lined up our heads - we saw ourselves! Lee, our teacher, told us this is a very natural thing for people to do because it is what we are most familiar with - our own head. How could I make my own head when I'm looking at a small, black woman? The answer is obvious - I wasn't looking at all.

The beauty of
every stinking one of these classes is that this very idea is drilled into us over and over and over again. Sculpt, draw, paint exactly what is there and as Clintel says, 'No lying'. It is truly amazing, and I prove it to myself over and over again when I do that, when I don't second guess, when I emphasize one thing over another, when I leave something out that doesn't make sense to me (what is that thing?) the final product is nice but it doesn't really work. If I forget "things" - table edges, corners of fabric, stupid yellow plastic tulips, and make what is really there, what I really see and leave my 'labeling' brain out of it - it comes together like a jigsaw puzzle and I marvel that dang, this really works! And as the observer, I don't look and label all those "things", making a mental list of 1. yellow tulips, 2. edge of table, etc., but as a composition, it all makes sense and I'm not left standing in front of this thing wondering what's off? I don't care how beautiful the colors or the brush strokes - it has to work. My brain must be able to makes sense of the composition and move smoothly and freely around it without the jolt of running up against something that makes me stop and scratch my head.

Once I have this figured out, I may just do that purposely but I believe it will only work if I understand the basic order of things first. I hope I live that long.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


First of all,


I am having a bit of a hard time narrowing down the gifts! Erica and Carly are coming here to NYC while I'm gone to Omaha for Thanksgiving. I wanted to visit my parents (my mom will be celebrating 4 years after discovering breast cancer) and I thought Thanksgiving time would be perfect. It IS a great idea as all 3 of my classes are canceled that week, however:

1. I miss the Macy's day parade - would I really have gone anyway?
2. It means I won't be home for EIGHT weeks, straight.
3. And now...

After I made all the travel arrangements, I realized that I will have an empty apartment in NYC for a full week so I mentioned it to Erica, who loves NYC almost as much as her mom (yea, I'll fight you for it!) and she mentioned it to Carly, who spent a year here at NYU (gee whiz Carly, that's almost 13 years ago!). The 2 of them decided to scrounge together their pennies for the flight and take advantage of a free place to stay. That also means:

3.a. I will have 2 daughters here and I'm GONE! Somehow, hmmm, this just does not feel right. Here I am, all by myself, and 2 of my daughters are coming to visit and I LEAVE. I can't NOT go to Omaha. All the more reason to buy this giant SIMS house in Kennewick and bring us all together under one roof, forever.

So I am busy buying birthday gift cards for things to do while they're here. It is so hard to narrow it down and I'm sure they would just say, ah, heck - why narrow it down - because what is NYC all about? Excess.

Speaking of which, I had a facial yesterday - ah, ya. It was fabulous and not so expensive actually, except the darn girl was so good, sweet, kind, encouraging - that I ended up buying 3 new facial products that cost more than the facial did! And a sweater to boot. WHO sells sweaters in a SPA? "NO MORE CLOTHES", remember?

The worst part of the day came when I realized my glasses somehow dropped out of my purse, which is at times, over-flowing with scarves, gloves and all the warm stuff I take off when I walk into places and start sweating. I had my glasses because I didn't want to wear my contacts to the facial. Why did I take them off? Why didn't I stick them safely in their case when I did? I am sad that they are crushed on the street somewhere and I am left with an older pair (I DID think to bring a backup) that have little scratches RIGHT where my pupils are. Dang. $400 and a couple weeks before that problem gets fixed.

Oh wait, there IS this little pair in a store at Grand Central Station that I tried on weeks ago that have a panther pattern on them...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sunday - Daylight Savings Time

I need this. I am having a hard time going to sleep earlier than 1 or 2 and I sleep until 9. Now I will go to sleep at 12 and get up at 8 - better. I did 5 loads of wash during my extra hour today - though it sloughed over into the next 2 hours. I was REALLY hungry around 2 so I went to Jackson Hole, just down the road, and ordered the Goat cheese and portabello mushroom omlette that Flynn had when he was here and highly recommended. I ordered mine with the optional broccoli. It needed another egg because it was pretty much a plate of marinated mushroom with a little melted cheese and lots of broccoli but it was good for me, along with the whole grain toast. I was full and walked home.

I grabbed my drawing supplies. Oh wait. I am now a fan. My new drawing teacher (actually he is the original drawing teacher who had a heart attack a couple weeks before school started so another guy taught the first 4-5 weeks for him) is having us use lots of different media. I have 3 different pen tips and holders, black and sepia ink, conte crayons, small paint brushes, pencils of all hard and softness and charcoal. This is the drawing I made last week from the model:

It's a little different than the pencil drawings from the weeks before. Those classes were excellent and I learned a lot but this new teacher is making me love doing this.

So, I grab all my drawing supplies and head to Central Park. It's 41 degrees outside, so I bundle up, grab a blanket (so I can sit in a better spot than on a bench) and head towards the noise. There's all kinds of yelling and bull horns and as I get closer, I am seeing people in running gear with cellophane sheets wrapped around their shoulders and then, holy smoke - it's the end of the New York City Marathon! The 25th mile is in Central Park and it's late in the afternoon, it's been over 7 hours and there is still a steady stream of people running the last mile towards the Plaza Hotel, Bergdorf Goodman and the new Apple store. What fun.

I haven't been through the whole park, it's got to be 5 miles long, but still, my favorite spot is on the bridge looking over a little pond towards the Plaza Hotel. It's a really popular place to take photos and I had to wait a bit for a couple to leave but I grabbed a corner spot on the bridge, laid out my paper and went to work. I drew it in with pencil first and discovered it's a lot easier than it was 6 weeks ago. Then I picked up the ink pen, dipped it in the sepia and started drawing over the pencil. All the while people are taking photos next to me and they are probably cursing me for taking the best spot and spoiling their photos. I was probably there for an hour and a half and my fingers were freezing as the sun started setting. I'm not done but nothing's going to move before I get back to finish...

I walked north through the park instead of homeward and took a few last photos of the final marathon stragglers and crossed over to 72nd street to head east and home. I stopped in a 'Ralph Lauren' store that looked really beautiful, mostly just to get warm and discovered I had walked into their new flagship store Ole Ralph opened about 2 weeks ago. MAN, it was gorgeous and I felt a little out of place - you can't believe how these people dress around here - but I wandered up all 4 floors, checked out a shearling 'muff' for $2,400 and told them I thought it was too small...

Instead of turning down 2nd and home, I walked to 1st. It appears the further you get from Fifth Avenue the more mace you need. However, there IS a Baskin Robbins on 1st, so I stopped in for some ice cream, grabbed 3 expensive apples at the corner grocery store and got home all in 1 piece. Which is more than I can say for an 'older tenant' here in the apartment building. There were a couple ambulances in front of the building this morning and this evening there was the Medical Examiner. I had a great, great day!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Second Session of 4 - Painting Class

First of all:


Then, this is my painting after today - the second day of working on it. These are FOUR HOUR days! This is a FOUR FOOT square painting - it'll take WEEKS.

Anyway, it's a good painting, if I do say so myself. See? I am learning something! The model even took a picture of it today. I was working away when Clintel (the teacher) comes up and says, 'talk to me' (he's this cool, dread-locked black guy) so I told him I didn't want to paint the mess under the chair. It's ugly and complex and drab and boring. He said that's what painters do - they do the hard thing. So I painted it and he was right. It added a depth and an interest that the painting needed. He said you can't tell little lies - you have to tell the whole truth. No fudging the details. It reminds me - don't paint THINGS (a pot, the chair rail, a basket) paint colors and light and dark and all of this turns INTO things. Ya, it was boring stuff under that chair but it was there and I wanted to tell the truth.

We have 2 more days to paint on this and I hope I can continue to keep the colors pretty simple like they are. I left one photo un-cropped. When I first uploaded them, I didn't remember painting that brown thing on top of the radiator on the left side. The color of the real wall and the color of the wall in my painting are so similar, I didn't realize that was the real thing! I am missing the color in her skin and I will work on her legs and feet next week - I didn't get there today. I am thinking I need to tone down the color on the front edge of the table behind the model because it comes forward too much and it needs to move back.

I'll keep thinking about this painting all week until I just can hardly stand to not get in there and paint on it! I get pooped out by about the third hour and lose my steam. That's when the big strokes, the 'filling it in' comes in. I need to keep up the intensity and the focus all the way through.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SIX more weeks!

I've been here for seven and a half weeks. Long enough to:

1. Know my way home without any problem.
2. Not bat an eye at a 2 mile walk - one way.
3. Get antsy if I'm still home at 3:00 pm and haven't been anywhere.
4. Have my hair colored TWICE.
5. Make it to class in 20 minutes, flat (and arrive relaxed).
6. To feel comfortable enough to finally take some detours and walk a different way.
7. Fill my closet with really great things - tho no heels on any shoes.
8. See better, look better, draw, sculpt and paint better.
9. Appreciate what an incredible place this is.

I only have 6 weeks left and I go home. Hmmmmmm.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Who knows - the fifth/sixth class? I feel I am getting better. I worked on this head for one - 3 hour session and was just beginning to feel that I had a good sense of the ins and outs of her head. I didn't want to stop! Darn if the teacher said we do another head next week and I had to break her down and dump her in the clay bin.

When I'm lost on her eye - I have to LOOK at her eye and make it like that. Build it up where it's full and cut it out when it goes in. Proportion is critical - the distance from her nose to her ear and then from her ear to the back of her head. I started just rubbing the clay around, moving it out of the way, pushing it into new places - actually FEELING her face in my hands. Then time ran out and I walked to the subway, stuck in my earphones like everyone else, and hopped out at my stop and walked to the apartment in the cold. No getting lost now - almost like home.

I miss my bedroom fireplace on nights like that but I prefer my clothes here. Luckily, I can take those home...

Friday at the MoMA - NoMA

I am so clever...

I decided to go to the MoMA on Friday - no class and an empty calendar (actually, that happens rather often here). When I get to 51st St., where the museum is located, there are barricades set up along the sidewalk with MoMA banners on them and a LONG line of people behind them. I ask and find out that Friday from 4-8 they offer free admission when it usually costs $18/person. I am there at 3:30! BUT, I get to go right in because I bought a membership, I check my coat and I rush up to the top floor and begin to make my way down, thinking everyone else will do the opposite.

Sadly, the Matisse exhibit is gone and I am sorely disappointed. I would love to have seen that up close a f
ew more times. I loved the simplicity of his shapes and the complexity of his color. I spent a lot of time taking close, close photos of details in a few Monets, Cezannes and Picassos (you can take photos in this museum!) and brought them home to remember how important each and every inch of the painting is.

I noticed on Saturday, at
my painting class, the last hour or so I was simply spreading paint on the canvas to fill in all the white (we are required to bring 4' square canvases to cover) and so, instead of making every brush stroke and every color a deliberate action - it became a fill in the blank operation. If you notice this detail shot, the leg in Picassos' painting here has just about every color in it - the shadow is not a grayer version of flesh tone - it is purple and blue and green (and red and orange...). They are small strokes of clear, beautiful color - Matisse will scrape off some of these layers to get to a different color below. This is what makes their paintings so fabulous (I think).

I will add a photo of my painting here when I take one next Saturday before I begin, again, slowly and deliberately and, hopefully, beautifully.

Oh, so by 4:30, the place was screaming with people and it was no longer a place of contemplation. Getting my coat OUT of the coat check took another hour, the line was that long. Fridays are not a good day to go to the MoMA UNLESS you want to go for free. And not see anything.