Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Back to the Airport

The next morning it was back to the airport.
Above, finally on the tarmac after several hours, a lot of red tape and pesos, and now waiting in line to board Cubana Airlines. Below, a photo of me with Miguel and his lovely wife. He looked severe, but he was the sweetest man, and as curious about me as I was about him and his wonderful hat. He also sported a neatly trimmed moustache that I liked a lot. He was a total package that I would liked to have had the opportunity to paint. I did draw him in the airport,
which was the real the ice breaker.
After that, we were friends.

Here's a shot of Cuba from the air. I loved the look of the fields,
and the color of the earth.
After landing, going through immigration and customs and money change, we walked out of the airport. An American man named Charlie and a driver were loading Charlie's luggage into the van he'd hired to take him to his casa in the Vedado area of Habana. We didn't know Charlie, but we quickly wound up in his van taxi and shared the fee. It was agreed that Charlie would get dropped off first and the 45 minute drive was spent getting Charlie's history with Cuba. He was spending three days in Habana, and by the end of the ride, we had agreed to meet him the next day to work out the details of a catching a ride in his rental car to the far side of the island. We dropped him, and headed for Habana Vieja, the oldest part of the city. It was raining, and we had no fixed destination since we had
no advance reservation. 

Above is the street outside Nelson's Casa Particular. This casa was highly recommended in Lonely Planet with the only negative listed as small windows in the rooms. After much discussion and checking three or four other places in the dark, it was finally decided to take a room at this casa. The room was available for only this one night, so in the AM we would have to move to another casa. No big deal, I was tired and grateful for a nice place to hang my hat for the night.

But I found the best thing about this casa
in the bathroom. A Sorolla shower curtain!

It had been a long day, we'd had nothing to eat since breakfast,
the rain was bucketing down,
and I was in Cuba.

Monday, December 13, 2010



I'd never been to Mexico before, and never thought I'd set foot on Mexican soil without my traveling companion, but she'd been detained from the very start. As the plane made it's descent towards Cancun, all I could see were acres and acres of trees, jungle. Then all of a sudden, a housing development! It was a far cry from Cancun's expensive resort hotels and beach loving tourists. This view from the plane was the closest thing I got to the real Mexico. It fascinated me in it's simplicity. It was obviously inhabited by people that had very little, and I am sure that on one of these simple dirt courtyards I saw a bed frame with a mattress sitting outside. I was reminded of the palette bed in Orchha, India, that had been carried outside and placed near the source of the community's water pump. Each morning we'd drink our chai up on the roof of our hotel and look down as life's quiet drama unfolded before our very eyes. The first thing that the women did in the morning was to come to the watering hole and fill their pots with the days water. Here, looking down at Mexico, I saw no watering hole, just very straight roads and little hovels.

Once I'd gone through immigration and customs, I spent a long time with the travel agents at the airport. When they were finished with me, I walked outside. I had a five hour wait before the plane bearing my fellow artist would show up. I was a bit angry at her stupidity, but what could I do? There was no way to communicate with her, and we'd not booked a hotel in advance. All I felt I could do was to wait. I decided to sit at Starbucks of all places. I was hot and thirsty, so I ordered an iced green tea slushy thingy. The picture shows how much of this large drink I'd downed before it dawned on me, "STUPID GIRL!" I shouldn't be drinking anything with ice in it! I was kicking myself hard. I wrote it all down in my journal and figured if I was going to get sick, it would most likely happen way before the person I was waiting on would arrive. The good news, I never did get sick, so I suppose that either Cancun is safe to drink the water, or Starbucks used filtered water for their ice. Either way, I'd had more than a few minutes of worry. It just had not been a good day so far. Still, here I was in Mexico, with Spanish spoken all around me, and funny money in my pocket.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Travel frustrations

Tuesday, November 2, were arose at 4:00 AM, had some tea and went off to the Columbus Airport. I had a backpack and one suitcase carrying all my painting equipment, and some clothes, and six rolls of Viva papertowels. My traveling companion, Nora, was carrying a small packlike purse, a childsized wheeling suitcase and two larger suitcases, one larger than the other. She couldn´t get them into the airport all at one go, so I am not sure how she planned on traveling with them.

The nice people at the airport desk helped check us in, and the airport was relativel quiet at that time of morning. My suitcase was 1.5 pounds overweight, but I wasn´t charged, but was warned I´d need to correct that for the return flight. I wheeled  the case to the xray guy, told him I was an artist and in my case were tubes of artists oil colors in plastic boxes, and a tripod. He smiled, nodded and took the case.

Once Nora made her two trips to get her luggage to this xray guys, we headed off to security and coffee! Security was uneventful. Nora was through before me. Her shoes were back on, and as I was tying my last shoe, she said, "√ém just going to go around the corner to Starbucks and order the coffee. What do you want?" Just as I was finishing lacing my shoe I heard her name called over the intercom. I saw her reappear and as she passed me she stammered a bit nervously, "I'll, I'll be back." Her voice sounded like she was trying to reassure me, but had the nervous tone of uncertainty.

I went to get coffee and then to the gate. Within five minutes boarding procedure began. Once the priority passengers and those with kids got on board they called the first rows, and they also called my name saying they had a message for me, please come forward. The message was that Nora had been delayed and they would send her on a later flight that would arrive in Cancun around 3:00 PM. Sounded reasonable, but I was irritated that she tried to take solvent on a plane. She'd told me that she would take it in a rum bottle wrapped in bubble wrap. She´s learned that trick from Nelson Shanks, no less, who´d once carried it in a vodka bottle. Of course I had no idea if that was the problem, but it´s what I suspected.

I mentioned before that I don´t really know this woman that I'm traveling with, and as the day wore on, I began to realize I´d broken my own rule about not traveling with someone I didn't know well.

My plane reached Houston without a hitch. I made a call to Martin from a payphone with a credit card. I was very sorry I´d not brough my cell phone now, and since. Payphone's are definitely becoming one of the dinosaurs of communication.

After the call, I went to the Service Desk for Continental to try and find out what flight they had put Nora on. The woman behind the desk seemed friendly at first, but I quickly found out that she would be no help to me. First off, she was irritated that I couldn´t hear her voice. She was not going to speak up and the airport noise prevented me from hearing her. She sat with her hand out as I asked explained the situation to her, and asked if she could tell me what flight they had put Nora on, followed by saying, "Please tell me what it is that you want from me so I can hand it to you.¨" She wanted my ticket and passport, which I promptly handed to her. She checked me in for my international flight to Cancun, but she said she could give me no information on another passenger. I thanked her and left the desk.

I walked to the gate, bought a bottle of water and took a seat to record all of this, and more, in my journal. And I did a lot of thinking. I thought if I don´t connect with her, I will be on my own in Mexico, what will I do there. This was Plan B thinking, but I felt it was necessary since I didn´t know the cause of her delay, or what she might have in those cases. Maybe I´d not see her again.

Eventually I decided to get something to eat, since my flight was coming up and they don´t feed you on the plane. I also found a bookstore and bought a guidebook to Cancun and the Yucatan. I read a lot of it, starting with Cancun itself since we had no hotel booked. Then a bell went off in my head and I thought to go back to the Service Desk and ask again for the planes that were coming into Cancun from Houston. Of course I had no idea that she was flying through Houston any longer.

The desk was much more animated now. The woman who gave me no help was still there, but there were three new gals coming in to start work. The one sitting next to the unhelpful woman motioned me forward with a smile. She spoke up so I had no trouble hearing her. I said, "Do you want to see my ticket and passport?" She said no. I started to explain the problem. She asked my name, and for Nora´s name.

She was a fountain of information. "She has been rebooked. Oooooooooooooh! She is flying first class! Her flight number is ____, it leaves Houston at _____ and arrives in Cancun at 5:05." That was four hours after mine. "Is she really flying first class? I`ll kill her." This nice woman shook her head yes, looked at me with a smile and said, "We award bad behavior." We exchanged more smiles, I thanked her, and as I turned to walk away I wanted to say something to the unhelpful woman, but I didn´t. Certainly she´d heard the entire thing, and I had to wonder what she was thinking.

I went back to the gate and read the guide book, and wrote in the journal thinking that my journal would be full before I was finished with day one. The flight to Cancun was ontime and without incidence. I arrived at 12:05 (with the time change). I was surprised at all the forms I had to fill out before arrival in Mexico. The immigration agent took my passport and the form and never said a word, just went about making marks on the papers and making a lot of official noise stamping everyting before returning my passport with the visitor´s card.

I was surprised to see that my luggage would be xrayed again to enter Mexico. I was asked what I was carrying. After I explained I received a smile and an "OK." I was in, but now had to figure where to wait for Nora. To make a long story short, I got as much info as possible, changed some money for Mexican pesos and went to get a drink.

Nora did arrive around 6:00 PM and after checking into a hotel, we got ourselves together and I suggested that we go to El Centro. I asked the taxi driver if he knew a good restaurant in El Centro, he mentioned La Parilla. Three people had mentioned it to me, as well as the guidebook. She we went. They had a wonderful maricachi band, and we did lots of drawing and became the darlings of the restaurant.

We flight again today, and once I hit the "post button", I will be off the matrix for a while.

One final comment on my companion, her husband said she had ADD and I think he is right. I feel like I am traevling with an ADD child who has all the rights and priviledges of an adult, and she does. Whew!

Excuse any mistakes this is a keyborad with keys in places I am not used to finding them.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Thinking of India 2009

My thoughts have been turning to last year's trip to India. We began our trip on September 9th and returned on October 28th, a total of seven weeks. Now, having just planned an upcoming trip to a place that I've never been, whose language I barely speak, and with a traveling companion I hardly know, the "adventure" of traveling to this new place, has me thinking of my old friend, India. This time last year, I was in Varanase with my friend, and fellow artist and India enthusiast, Ray Hassard. By the time Ray and I reached Varanase, my husband, Martin, was back at work in the USA. He'd been on the road with us for four weeks, and we were very sorry to see him go.

Below is a photo I took on our first taxi ride, the night we arrived in Mumbai. Probably the most beloved of all the Indian gods, Ganesha! The 'god of new beginnings' was there to greet us in this plastic incarnation, and we were thrilled to see him.

We marveled at the changes in Mumbai. It seemed to have modernized and cleaned itself up quite a bit in two years time. After installing ourselves in our Mumbai home away from home, the Hotel Harbour View, we headed for the rooftop restaurant of this hotel and its wonderful view.
(See post from November 17, 2009 for more of this restaurant and our breakfasts on that first morning.)

15 hours of flying, an hour in a taxi, another 1/2 hour to check in, gives one a chance to work up a thrist. And an Indian beer before bed is a nice thing. Surprise #2: there was no Kingfisher beer at the restaurant! Budweiser was there, Foster's was there, but no Indian beers. A disappointment for sure, but they did have Tiger beer, and that is what Ray and I drank. Below is my husband, Martin, with the Tiger beers and pouring his Indian soda, Limca.

We were fresh travellers at this point, and loving being back in India. But by the time the next photo was taken 5 weeks had passed, and we were getting tired. After Martin went home, Ray and I flew to Delhi where we stayed with friends and conducted a workshop for the programmers of Adobe Illustrator. After 4 days in Delhi, we boarded a train for Lucknow, and after two days, we boarded another train to Varanase.

It was late when we arrived in this most ancient city. We checked into a guest house. Below you see Ray sitting in the upstairs eating area. This was the second time on this trip that we'd stayed in a guest house, where you stay and can eat with the family. Ray is not looking real happy here, 'cause he was not. He'd been waiting and waiting for his dinner to appear, while behind him was Madame Jacqueline, from France smiling and chatting away. We've never forgotten her, she loved everything here, never stopped smiling, shopped till she dropped at the "in-house clothing store" (all the clothes were made and marketed by the lady of the house, Tripty) and Madame got great service. We, however, did not.

It is difficult to get a beer in Varanase, the holiest of cities for Hindu's. Doesn't mean you can't get one, you just have to know how or where to get it, or know someone that does. This guesthouse was a place that stocked beer for their clients. And the "chilly factor" was great!
"Very, very cold," she says in her best Indian accent.
But it wasn't enough to keep us at this place for a week.

Varanase was a long way from our clean toilet in Mumbai at the Hotel Harbour View.

Below is our ensuite bathroom at the guesthouse in Varanase. The bathroom was apparently enough reason for Ray to announce we were looking for new diggs in the morning. That surprised me a bit, since we'd had an equally interesting bathroom in Pondicherry on our first trip to India in 2005. But we only had to endure it for one night, and we did. We didn't want to endure this bathroom or bed for another six nights.

Here was our bedroom in all it's lime green wonder!
It was a pretty depressing place, especially when faced with staying here for a week. I think one could easily go crazy in this room. I am reminded of Van Gogh's painting of a pool player in a bar. He said he wanted to paint a picture that talked about a place where one could go crazy. I think bedroom was a place like that! Surely Madame J's bedroom wasn't like this.

We skipped breakfast in Tripty's kitchen/clothing racket and took a walk in the direction of the river, to investigate other places to live for the next 6 days and nights. We decided on The Hotel Temple on Ganges in the Assi Ghat region, and it was fabulous! The rooms were clean and cool, the little man at the desk turned out to be quite helpful to us throughout the week, and the menu was extensive and filled with breakfast delights like, chocolate toast, or honey pancakes - with or without fresh fruit. I had lemon pancakes with honey that morning, and so did Ray, but he also had the Royal Toast pictured below.

"What is it?" I asked when it arrived. Ray poked around in it, and it turned out it was toast covered in a sort of mushed up warm bread sauce. I didn't much like the look of it, and I suppose Ray didn't much like the taste of it, since he never ordered it again, but hey, someone had to order Royal Toast, right?

Our new hotel was close to the Ganges River, and the rooftop restaurant offered views of the river, a sunrise blaring at you every morning, and also some nice views of our neighborhood behind us. Somewhere out there was Tripty's place, but we never wanted to see it again. We must have had some good karma in finding this place. Each morning we breakfasted to the sound of flute music coming through the air. We later found out that it came from a nearby vendor who was playing to attact buyers, but it was a welcome sound.
Above, you can see what looks like a sandy short in the distance. This is the other side of the Ganges River. There is literally nothing there for miles, and makes a sharp contrast to the overly crowded city on our side. Below is the view behind the hotel, our neighborhood.
Once you walk out the door of the hotel, you are at the mercy of the city, and all those that are trying to make a living off the tourists. Now, sitting in the quiet of my home, I am thinking about where I was this time last year. Has Varanasi changed? Would I want to be there again? Would I recognize anyone? I can see it very clearly in my mind's eye. But nothing takes me there quicker, and on a much deeper level, than my sense of smell. It doesn't matter where I am, or what I am doing, the smell of sandalwood immediately transports me back to this complex, crowded and holiest of cities in India.
Thank you, India, for all you have given me.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Bluebird Cafe, Nashville, TN

The Bluebird Cafe is famouse around the world as a venue friendly and supportive of songwriters. In this small venue, songwriters come from all over the world to sing their songs, and some of them get discovered, or have their songs recorded by big name artists.
Yesterday was the first time I'd ever heard of the place. I decided that since we were in Nashville, we should visit some honky tonks, and get in touch with the musical side of myself. A woman who lives is Nashville started to give some suggestions on where to go, and the Bluebird Cafe, she said, was "the real deal".
It was great! Small, crowded, and is known for a listening venue. NO SMOKE! Still, it must have been hell in the old days before the no smoking laws.
We hears songwriters from Canada, Sweden, Amersterdam, Texas, Wyoming, California, to name a few. Each songwriter gets on "the list" and when their number comes up, they have the opportunity to perform a song. Then off they went to be replaced by the next in line. It ran very smoothly and we heard some wonderful songs and voices, and only one of them we weren't impressed by. It is a really neat place to hear music, and meet famous people too, so I hear. No cover charge, and I'd go back in a heartbeat!


"The Taste of Fish", 8" x 8", Oil on Stretched Canvas

We just got back to the hotel after the final day of the Peggy Kroll-Roberts 3-day workshop. I can honestly say that I have never painted as much in a workshop! Her demos are very short, and she gets us down to business quickly! Consequently, at the end of the day, you are worn out physically, and mentally.

I just spoke to my husband, Martin. He tells me that the above painting of my cat, Van Gogh, now living with my daughter and granddaughter, has been accepted in the the Viewpoint 2010 Exhibition. This national juried exhibition is sponsored each year by the Cincinnati Art Club. Now Van Gogh will have a chance to worm his way into more hearts! He is a very cool cat!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hello from Nashville, Tennessee!

Not Paris, not Nashville, but a wonderful cafe au lait from
Balzac's Coffee in Stratford, Ontario.

I tried to make this post at 8:00 am this morning, but for some reason, things shut down. My good friend and workshop taking buddy, Edie Dean, and I are installed at the Hampton Inn in Nashville until Friday morning.

I don't much like the coffee at this hotel chain, so I decided to post a photo I took last weekend when Martin and I went on a spur of the moment seven hour drive to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. It just wouldn't be Stratford without a cup from Balzac's.

We had a wonderful time in Stratford despite the fact that the weather wasn't great. We saw two plays: Shakespeare's As You Like It, in a 1920's setting; and, Dangerous Liasions. We also had a very fine Indian meal in the Raja, restaurant. All in all, a short but successful trip.

I might write another short blog entry later this evening, we are wiped out from day 2 of the workshop!

Monday, September 27, 2010

2010 OPA Eastern Regional Exhibition Link

I just received a notice that all the paintings in this outstanding exhibition are now in a YouTube video.

My painting is "The Monk's Alarm Clock", you'll know it by the red monks panning down to the rooster. But the works in the show are wonderful, so take a look if you have the time.

Friday, September 10, 2010

White's Mill Challenge

White's Mill serves as subject for outdoor painting contest
Messenger photo by Sara Brumfield
Posted: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 8:38 am
Debra Joyce Dawson of Pataskala paints White’s Mill in Athens on Saturday afternoon. She is one of the founding members of the Ohio Plein Air Society, which was holding a White’s Mill painting competition.

I took part in The White's Mill Challenge sponsored by Athens Real Estate Company, Athens, OH.

The day started out gorgeous, but with a promis of fall in the air. By the time this photo was taken, it sky had clouded over.
A woman with a video camera came by and shot video of several painters, and I wound up on YouTube.
Above is the photo that appeared in the Athens Messenger paper, and here is the link to the YouTube video of me working on the award winning painting.
There are two fellow painters in this video, and in case you don't recognize me, I'm up first.
Just beware, you too, might wind up on YouTube!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

American Impressionist Society Exhibition - Online

My AIS entry was the painting I posted in June, just before we left for England. If you would like to view the entire exhibition, the link is below.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Flying to England

At 7:30 AM tomorrow, we go to BWI Airport - and sit. Our flight for Detroit doesn't leave until 12:50 PM, but since this was the only ride we could find, we didn't want to turn it down.

Martin and I got off to a late start yesterday, and we had an uneventful but pleasant drive to Maryland. I spent three of the six and a half hours in the car stuffing, licking and stamping envelopes. My exhibition cards covered in all kinds of stamps of various amounts looked quite festive! This task made the time pass quickly and unnoticed.

We are now at my daughter's house. She and my granddaughter, Natalie, are going to England for their first time. This will be my tenth time, maybe. I've sort of lost count. We fly into Heathrow, and make our way to Notting Hill Gate tube station, and then, walk a short distance to our hotel. Check in time isnt' until 1:00 PM!!!

That's unfortunate, since poor Natalie has been sick with a virus, and a high fever for several days. Today the doctor said she should be right as rain (perfect for England) by Thursday. She was pretty chipper for most of the day, started to eat solids again after a few days of just fluids, and she actually went out shopping with Monica and I. But, as viruses and fevers go, as night approached, she started to feel poorly again.

Summer solstice has come and gone, and every one in the house but me is in bed, sleeping. I vowed to stay up until 3:00 AM, so I could sleep on the plane tomorrow evening. I am a night owl by nature, but had some problems with Photoshop Elements and a photo I was preparing for an entry, so here I am, up and writing at 3:20 AM.

Thanks to Martin, my husband, and personal Sherpa, who has the patience of the start-up engineer that he is, I got it worked out. He knows nothing about Elements, or sizing photos, but he sat here and said, "What happens if you try this, or that?" Together we worked our way through some screens, tried a bunch of stuff, and resorted to the tutorials and help menus. I was pretty sure that I knew what was causing my problem, I just didn't know how to fix it. But, thanks to Martin who kept me going, we figured it out. Why does there always have to be a learning curve?

I got my photo entered in the exhibition, paid the $48 entry fee, and now can go off to England with the attitude that at this point, at this time of the morning, "I either get in, or I don't."

I entered my fifth hen house painting: "Hughes' Hen House", 10" x 8", Oil on Canvas.

I hear the pitter-patter of feet upstairs. I think my daughter is awake! I now sit here debating whether to go to bed, or not!? It almost seems pointless.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Traveling with Oil Paints

Above is my brand new, never used, Yarka easel. It's loaded with paint, brushes, spare parts, hand wipes, and even a few sheets of paper toweling, for packing. I took this photo last year, just before going to India.

This was the second Yarka easel I'd purchased. The first one was made when the Soviet Union was still the Soviet Union; and the one pictured above was made after the Soviet Union broke up. The first easel was a real work horse, but 12 years later, I purchased second Yarka as a backup,
and it was actually $5.00 cheaper, but not as sturdy!

You can see that it held quite a lot of painting materials.
If you were on my mailing list for emails from India last year, you will know that I left this easel in India with a fine young woman artist named Uma.

Here are some tips if you are flying with oils.
In the above photo you can see at the upper right, the small canister for turps. You cannot take solvents, or Liquin, etc., on a plane, not even in your checked baggage. If you use your turp can a lot at home, make sure that you take some time cleaning this turp can - Murphy's Oil Soap is great for this. Pu tin the soap, fill with boiling water, and let it sit. If your can is really dirty, you might have to repeat this several times. You will buy the solvents you need after you arrive at your destination.

In the photo, outside the easel, you will also see some plastic containers with lids, like you store food in. The ones I have, have snap on lids and are great for carrying oil paints. The paint tubes do not get crushed, and if they leak, your luggage is safe! Again, these should be packed in your checked baggage
and labeled with signs saying:
 Artist Oil Colors
 Flash Point 440 °F
The flash point is the temperature that something will burst into flame.
The higher the number the better off you are, but 440 °F
is the flash point for artist oil colors.
Don't use the words "oil paints", which could signal to the airline checkers that there is a petroleum based product involved. Artist oil colors are vegetable based oils, and are just fine for flying.

If you are traveling with pastels, on the x-ray machine, the pastel sticks look sort of like bullets, so let the folks know what you are carrying, and don't be surprised if you get a search.

I have had instances where I have been pulled aside and my backpack searched because of my solvent can. They open it, smell it, wince, then swab it, while I am asked questions about what it is. If this happens to you, don't panic. Let the person checking you know that you are an artist. They are usually pretty interested, and once the swab is complete, they give you your stuff back and let you go!
Sometimes they want to look at your sketchbook.

Now, I just take the turp canister out of my backpack, and send it through through the x-ray with my shoes. Much simpler. They can see it, you aren't "hiding it". So maybe no search.

Palette knifes, put them in your easel, put your easel in your checked baggage
tell the x-ray tech that you are an artist and that you have an easel in your baggage.

When you open your luggage at your destination, you might find a paper with a message about carrying hazardous materials. It's all normal.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Painting on l"Ile de Re, France

Fourth of July on the l'Ile de Re, France
8" x 10" - Oil on RayMar Panel
Copyright 2006 DJ Dawson

In 2006, I traveled to France with three wonderful women.
One I had only just met, the other two I'd never met.
Those three had met and formed a friendship
during overseas workshops.

Susie, lives in Columbus.
We are physically 30 miles apart,
but we rarely see each other.
Meg lives in Chicago, and Margie, she lives in Georgia.
If Susie and I never see each other, well, you know that
Meg and Margie and I never see each other.
Still we managed a 2008 reunion, in Georgia - and
added two more women, Janet and Elle, who also met at workshops.
They are all fine artists, who work hard and produce wonderful works.

This photo of me, with blonde hair, was taken with my camera by
a French tourist who possessed some photographic abilities.
I am using my brand new EasyL 12" x 16" easel.
Minutes later a wind blew up and a tiny sticker from the nearby antique shop
flew into my easel. It said, "neuf 65 Euros" - meaning "new 65 Euros".
I stuck the price tag on the the bottom right corner as a keepsake.
It stills lives there as a fond memory of that trip.
The glue is getting worn out,
and the sticker may someday fly away
to enrich someone else's memories.

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Gnome, My Sherpa, My Husband

"Art Matters" - Oil on Panel
Copyright 2006 - DJ Dawson

This was painted outside the Columbus Museum of Art. My husband, an avid reader and sherpa extraordinaire, shows up in my paintings quite a bit. Here he is on a Sunday morning with his paper, reading alongside the Henry Moore sculpture in front of the museum's Broad St. entrance. I wanted to post this for his birthday, May Day, but it's never to late to show him off and to say what a wonderful man he is.

The painting's title refers to the Museum's slogan.
We were given free t-shirts that day which said:

"Art matters, join the conversation."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How to Build a Hen House

"Hughs' Hen House, Grey Day
8" x 6" - Oil on Canvas, Copyright 2010

I did go back to paint the hen house last evening. I arrived at 4:30 PM, and the farmer arrived just after me. The rain had stopped but it was still cloudy. I set up and chatted with Mr. Hughs as he prepared to feed the chickens. He said, "They love bread. You'll see, they will fight over bread." I didn't see any fighting, but they all came running out of the house and gulped it down. Next he threw some grain on the ground. It was such a flurry of action. I decided to take this opportunity to make some small drawings of chickens in various positions.
The hen house drawing above is the study for the previous days painting. I had a blank page on the left side and filled it with more chicken drawings. I did use some of these little drawings in the painting. The rooster, who is considerable larger than any of the chickens, and the chicken standing next to him. Although I don't consider these painting perfect, I think they have a certain charm, and am enjoying the series. I am wondering now if the hen house is lit at night. There is a solar collector there, no pole with a light that I could see, but it would be an interesting painting. Still, I wouldn't want to go alone, I hear there are coyotes "in them thar hills!"

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hen House Redux

"Hughs' Hen House, Afternoon"
8" x 6", Oil on Canvas
Copyright 2010

I was so enamored of that hen house during the weekend workshop that I was eager to get back out there and paint it again. I'd studied it in the afternoon light while helping a student and said to myself, "I am coming back out here to paint it in the afternoon. I arrived at 2:30 PM yesterday, set up and went to work.

When I went to pick up my knife, I realize that my favorite palette knife was lost in my car somewhere in the plethora of stuff from the workshop. I used the newer model J-2, but it didn't feel or respond like my old friend J-2. A struggle ensued, and the above painting is the result.

Comparing the two, there are some things I like best in the morning painting and some I like better in the afternoon one. Today it's raining, but I'd really like to get out there and see what it looks like in the rain; see if the chickens do come out of that hen house. Time will tell. Rain usually comes with wind, and that would mean an umbrella in the wind. Not good.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Crazy For Color Workshop

Yesterday I wrapped up a 2-day workshop entitled "Crazy for Color". Below is my first day demo, a value study done on site at a wonderful abandoned farm in Ohio. All of the buildings are red with green roofs, perfect in my mind for a workshop.

"Grey Day Value Demo" - 8" x 8" - Oil on Gessoboard

After 10 days of great painting weather, Mother Nature turned, and the workshop was delivered in spitting rain, high winds and cold temperatures. That is plein air painting, but someone usually whines. Not this wonderful group, they got down to it and endured!!!

DAY 1:
While I set up my equipment I asked the students to start looking around for something they were interested in painting, and gave them instructions on doing a thumbnail of interesting shapes, using only three values. We had discussed the the importance of having an idea first - a poetic intent. This idea would guide all the consequent decisions they would make in the composing and painting process. While they sketched so did I. Once I had my idea and my value thumbnail I gathered all the students.

The demo started around 9:30 am on Saturday morning with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour. I wore layers of clothes: a silk turtleneck, then a cotton one on top, and a scarf around my neck for extra warmth. On top of that, a hooded sweat shirt purchased after a trip on a tall ship in Michigan (if it's good for sailors, it's warm). Fourth layer, a cotton sweater, and topping it all off was my Dad's old hat, a sort of Alpine style hat with a little feather on the side and a fleece interior. Thick hiking socks and boots kept my feet warm.

I used a Loew-Cornell palette knife size J-2, my favorite knife. I've used it so much that it's pretty sharp on the edges. I've never cut into a canvas, but I have punctured or sliced my fingers by accident. I've owned it since the early 90's, and although I have since purchased others in this size by the same company, my original knife is my favorite. It just feels right in my hand.

My workshop was sponsored by Sunbear Studio, an:d I was not far from finishing my demo when Meredith Marten, owner of the studio, arrived to take some photos and to let my students know that they could come back to the studio for coffee and muffins. WOW! No sooner I was finished, they all took off "to use the toilet". We took a lunch break at that point, an hour early, 11:00 am instead of Noon. I heard that the class had mutinied and were not going back outside. They decided to do their value paintings in the studio from their thumbnails.

I got a chuckle out of this, and went with the flow. It was actually nice to have all the students corralled in one room, they couldn't get away, and I could get to them all easily. I worked with each student to make sure they had a poetic intent, and strengthen their drawings in terms of good shapes and values that would support their idea. By the end of the day, most of the them had completed an interesting value painting from their morning thumbnails. Those that completed the value painting quickly went on to work that same design in a color version.

Below is my demo from day 2.

"Huges' Hen House, Morning, 8" x 6", oil on canvas.

During my demo I talked about mixing the prismatic palette of colors and the benefits of using a limited palette. I had my thumbnail handy discussed it with them. The painting was started with a tone of cad red light thinned with OMS and wiped to a light pink. I laid down a few placement lines with the same color and switched to my palette knife. I painted and talked about what I was doing, and at some point the thought crossed my mind that I was taking too long, so I asked if they wanted me to just paint, or to talk as I painted, which would take a little longer. They said to talk. So I explained everything, every step of the process of my decision making and everything I was physically doing and as much as I could about what colors I was mixing. At times I couldn't tell them what colors I mixed together because I make great use of mixing from pile to pile to create subtle nuances of tones. At the end, I added some hens that had walked out. I said I hadn't had much practice painting chickens from life and one student said they were really just two triangles. She was right!

I think that this painting could benefit from a little more detail in the focal area, but I was more interested in getting the students working and helping them at their easels. It was a great day in the sun, but still chilly in the shade. I did my painting standing with the easel and painting both in the sun, no umbrella.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Permanent Collection RAM

"Making Paper"
24" x 24", Oil on Panel
Copyright 2009
This painting was included in the "Encountering India and Bhutan" exhibition at the Richmond Art Museum. That exhibition closed on April 4th. Today I got a call saying that the Museum has purchased the painting for their permanent collection. A great honor for a painting that I love.
Thank you to the Board of Trustees and the Museum Director.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Dancing with the Stars

Writing from Maryland today, and posting some photos from
the "Art at the Arnold" Painting and Drawing Juried Competition.

Day One of the Competition we painted from live athletes.
 Day Two, Arnold's good friend, Sylvester Stallone showed up.
Here is my friend Carrie Lewis (center) and I
sneaking into a photo with Sly.

Notice my 3-D sunglasses?
I'd recently seen Avitar, and I wore my glasses
to lessen the glare from the blanket of snow on the ground in Ohio.
The glasses fit comfortably over my regular glasses,
and I forgot I had them on.

Above is a photo of me (far right) with the man himself.
The Terminator, The Governor,
signing his autograph in my sketchbook.

And just after getting the autograph,
here he is looking at my painting.
"This reminds me of the movie, They Shoot Horses Don't They?"
he said. I told him it was ballroom dancing,
to The Matrix. Mr. Stallone said,
"Arnold, it looks like you and me dancing."

So here I was, 'dancing with the stars':
Arnold, Sylvester and my winning painting.
Dark glasses, the key to success.
Thanks to my good frineds Edie Dean and Ray Hassard for the photos.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Columbus Museum of Art Permanent Collection

The Columbus Museum of Art was home to one of possibly only two surviving public gardens designed by renowned landscape designer, Russell Page. The garden has been home to several wonderful sculptures, a reflecting pool, and served as a quiet place in the city to have lunch or take in a concert on Sundays in the summer. The garden was also in demand for wedding receptions and parties.

When the museum decided it would finally start on a much needed expansion, it was a sad day for this garden and it's visitors. The expansion would mean the destruction of this garden.

Late 2008, The Garden Club of the Museum asked members of Ohio Plein Air Society to come and paint scenes in the Russell Page Garden. The Club wanted the artists to make a record in paint in different seasons.

September 2009, the works were juried by a panel of 3 jurors, and about 25 paintings were singled out for a week-long exhibition at the museum. The works were moved from the exhibition site to the garden for a Saturday night gala event. One of the works would be purchased by the Garden Club and donated to the Museum's Permanent Collection. My 14" x 11" oil entitled "The Russell Page Garden in Spring" was selected for purchase by a committeee which included the Museum's Director and the Curator of Collections, among others. I received the happy news by way of text message from my friend Edie, while I was in India.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Happy Birthday Ginger Rogers

Continuing on the dance theme, I'm posting a tribute to the ballroom dance queen, Ginger Rogers. TCM began airing movies with Ginger and Fred at midnight. I watched one in the early hours of today and continued watching again at 7am this morning.

While googling for a photo of Ginger, I found a blog you might like if you like old movies: Hollywood Dreamland, Musings on the Golden Age of Hollywood

Art at the Arnold Press

Links to Arnold Press:

Artists compete at weekend's Arnold Classic


Shall We Dance?

The snow has almost melted here in Ohio after 5 days of temps in the 40's and 50's. I drank my morning tea to scenes of blooming snow drops and a robin gathering worms.

Spring! What better time for the tale of a dance?

"Ballroom Dancing to The Matrix"
16" x 20", oil on canvas, copywrite 2010
Top Prize Winner at the Art at the Arnold
. . . to be continued.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Blizzard if 2010

Maryland doesn't often get big snow storms, but I remember several blizzards from my childhood where we'd get three feet of snow all at once go. Our house, 11 miles south of Baltimore City, was on a dead end road, and since we lived on a dead end, it might take days, or up to a week to for that plow to come to us. That left my Dad, Mom and us kids to shovel the long drive by hand. One year we shoveled past the end of our drive and out into the road so that Daddy could drive into the field across the street. With tires on turf, he could finally get the traction he needed to get the car to the plowed streets and get it work. Another year, because of drifting snow, my sister and I were unable to open the front door. But somehow, Daddy got out and worked for hours shoveling trails just wide enough to walk through. I was young around 10 years old, and the side walls of the trails he dug were almost taller than I was. We let the dog out to go to the bathroom and never saw him again. That was Sparky, our Scottie. We never found a trace of him, and so thought someone picked him up. Much later, in the 80's, I remember my boss driving his 4-wheel drive to the top of the road, and me wading through snow up to my hips to reach his vehicle just so I could get to work.

So, it's interesting to be in Maryland now during the Blizzard of 2010. We could get 24" - 36" by the time it's all over. It was certainly beautiful to see around 5:00 PM today. Right now, gale force winds and wet snow are causing white outs and slippery roads. Last I looked, there was about 9" on the road outside my daughter's house, and the snow is to continue falling tomorrow at a rate of 1-3" an hour.

My easel is in the car, and I am under a blanket on the sofa watching reruns of Inspector Morse, and writing to you.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

New Website

"Paan Raja"
10" x 8", Oil on Canvas

I have been in Maryland for over a week now, working on cleaning out my Mom's house and readying it for sale. So what to do with any downtime???

First of all, I crushed my primary hand, my painting hand, in the car door, resulting in a trip to the emergency room. No breaks, thank heavens, but my poor hand that serves me so well, is bruised and still swollen and sore.

I remembered that I promised myself I would work on building a new website. The template one offered by Fine Art Studio Online. There's a learning curve, and things to work out, but I have been working a little for the past two nights, and making progress on that, but not ready to unveil it just yet, especially since I don't have access to all of my photos.

But I did have this photo above of a paan stall in Kumbakonam, India. I loved the colors of this scene, and the sign above that shielded the man from the sun. I tried to copy the Tamil writing at first (I started at the left of the writing), but I quickly ran out of room.

There are lots of paan sellers in India. Paan is sort of a "hand-built chewing tobacco", which starts with a betel leaf. Various things, like tobacco, spices, and gosh knows what else, are placed in the middle of the leaf, and rolled or folded up into a packet. Sometimes you might get a paan at the end of a meal. You pop it into your mouth, and chew away, and like with chewing tobacco, you spit. But the leaves are a gorgeous color green, and are fanned out in piles for sale, and it's always a treat to see the paan seller, even if you don't chew.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

You're Invited

Encountering India & Bhutan

Over six years in the making!
A cast of billions!!
Spanning two oceans and several continents!
You won't want to miss Encountering India & Bhutan!
Opening Sunday, January 24th, 2010 at the Richmond Art Museum.
2:00 - 4:00 PM

Friday, January 15, 2010

Twitter Widget

Well, I don't think I got that widget thing correct. HUM? Maybe someone will clue me in. I am off for bed.

Twitter widget

Twitter widget

Why am I up so late? Watching the earthquake coverage, again. After making a donation, I finally succombed to starting a Twitter Account. Now what do I do with that?