Sunday, May 31, 2009

Picasso and Alice Neel and Art on a Dashboard

Art-full weekend. Saw the Picasso exhibit at Gagosian and Alice Neel (personal favorite) at Zwirner, both in Chelsea. Go go go.

Just a brief thanks to SOOOO many commenters who have responded to the posts this week. Really appreciate all the feedback and have published all under each post.

Went to Utrecht and then to Pearl Paint today for supplies. While at Utrecht (4th Avenue and 11th St.) I saw this at the end of the paper aisle. At first I thought it was a cigarette machine, which totally threw me, didn't think they still even made cigarette machines:

But, of course, when you look at it closely, not only is it NO LONGER a cigarette machine, it is filled with art for sale. This notice was posted above the coin/bill slot:

I fished into my wallet but didn't have a five -- art is not free but it IS cheaper than a pack of cigarettes -- maybe next time. I'll definitely buy a package this week. A few dozen choices:

Finally, on the way back home, I spotted this car on 10th street. Someone has turned the inside of their car into a conceptual art piece. Looked kinda trashy but compelling:

An inspiring day -- did a lot of painting. Lots of story refining -- hee-larious. Car-jacking or rentadread, which comes first? Hmmmm -- stay tuned.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

iphone art

Finally caught up the with trends and got an iphone on Mother's Day, as I mentioned in an earlier story. Big up, to the king - LOVE him, LOVE it, it has simplified my life.

I immediately downloaded some apps to allow me to sketch and paint on the go. It's tough to get used to the very tiny screen but the app does allow you to zoom way in and work on small areas at a time ........

You literally sketch with your finger tip on the screen, choosing colors and opacity as well as brush size, with pop up palettes. These aren't exactly my best works but are done from memory/imagination so, not too shabby as a first start.......

Back to paper and paint next time.

Also, have a nice Renta-dread story in the wings -- have had a few requests for another juicy story, so what could be juicier?

Hail up the king -- loving it.

The Wild Bunch

"Paradise Palm #3", 12"x15.5" ink and watercolor on paper $350

Hmm, the title sounds as if I should have a good story to go along with it.....but not today. Working on a series of close ups of palms/coconuts and will post another shortly.

'Til then, the king and I are off to Brooklyn....the kids are away so mom and dad can finally play.

Enjoy the weekend.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The artist formerly known as PRINTS

Apologies to those who have expressed dismay at the interruption of stories -- more soon come.

The Big News to which I've been alluding has been the introduction of high-quality giclee prints of my original watercolors, collages, and drawings to be offered for sale. I'm presently still working with printers to fine-tune the process of scanning and reproducing my work to fully capture the original color and clarity of each piece but at a more affordable price than the original.

Here's an example of an initial trial -- can you tell which is which? One is a scan of the original ink and watercolor painting and and the other is a scan of the reproduction, printed on heavy-weight watercolor paper.

When I am satisfied that we have achieved the highest quality accurate reproduction, I will be offering a full array of pieces for sale as prints. These ink and watercolor paintings will all be reproduced on a substantial weight, watercolor paper, with an appropriately wide border, each individually signed and dated by me, suitable for framing.

Thank you for your patience and the continued reading by so many hundreds of followers.

Look for another story this week .................

Note: the above painting is a portrait of Alphonso, our dear friend, rasta elder and supreme jewelery craftsman of Negril, who passed away this past winter. I've had many requests for prints of his portrait which will be available shortly. The original, no longer for sale, is on the left, the print is on the right.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The fambly that plays to-geddah, stays to-geddah.

No painting to post today -- the littlest empress in the house had a plan for this holiday and the latest work has been put on hold. Instead, a family outing, bike ride round downtown Manhattan, was the order of the day.

Stopped in Hudson River Park for wine and cheese and root beer and just spend time to chill. Be back tomorrow with more paintings and update on The News to come.........

Happy Memorial Day


Friday, May 22, 2009

Why ya watch mi ?

That line was our calling card. We left it every WHERE.

From the Roundabout to the West End, From Straithbogie to Great Georges Street. From Spanish Town to Tivoli Garden.

I'd hear the bwoys whispering, "a who dat wid di dread?" or shout out, "ya queen sweet'n pretty, rasta, bless up!"

Or I'd see the screwface ladies who just kiss teeth, arms folded 'pon their ample chests, scowling. They didn't like giving up one nice prince they hoped would sekkle dung with ona dem. Can't blame them.

"Why ya watch mi?" he'd shout, laughing. "Jess watch yuself, now mon, nah watch MI." And he'd step on the gas............

Seriously --- WATCH THIS SPACE. Some news coming.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Loving on Miss Una

Sweet, sweet Miss Una, my mother-in-law. Quiet as a church mouse and with a shy smile that warms up a room.

Until you make her angry.

I'm thankful to have always been on the her good side. She can kiss-teeth like nobody's business, swing a furious switch at a wayward yard dog and let out a low bellow that will rattle the windows when she sees one pickney misbehave. For such a tiny woman, she can make a big noise.

But she's always turned those soulful eyes on me with love and kindness. As her first daughter-in-law, and the bearer of her first grandchildren, sweet Miss Una has always had a soft spot for me, and me for her. She never asks for a thing to be brought down to the yard 'fram farrin' unless I prod her -- what do you need, Una? What can we bring you?

She'll shrug and smile, never asking for anything bigger than a breadbox. An iron fi press 'im clothes, perhaps, or one nice new church hat. She telephoned me last night and wished me a belated Happy Mother's Day. Our daughters had sent hand-made cards and a small package down as a gift for her on a day that few in her yard remember to commemorate. She'd forgotten all about it herself.

"What do you need, Una? What can we bring you when we come?"

She was silent for a moment and then said, "Mi wan one white dress fi go a weddings and one black dress fi go a funerals." That made me smile. Some folks in yard present a wish list of luxury items when they hear we are coming down. But not Miss Una. A simple outfit for beginnings and endings is all she needs, a more-than-practical wardrobe request.

And because she asks for so little, while needing so much, we have begun to build her a small block house in the yard. It's time to provide her with more comfort in her senior years. Finding the funds has been tough and even driven some to less-than-savory methods to make it happen (naughty, naughty bwoy!). But we'll find a way. Musst!

Life has been hard on sweet Miss Una. It has hardly ever been sweet.

Too many children when she was barely older than a child herself. And never a decent man around to share the heavy load. It has made her tough without making her hard.

Over the years, Miss Una has always had good advice when her times were rough, "jess laff it ahf, Miss Vic, mi jess laff it ahf". Whether it was having to bail one bad bwoy son outta jail or settling a simple family feud over missing cutlery and dishes, Miss Una might scowl at first but then she would indeed laff it ahf, jess laff it ahf.

Thanks for the love and the laffs, Miss Una.................

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Half Way Tree

Working on a large oil portrait, 24"x30", of the man of the house, the king of our castle. But I'm only half way. I had hoped to, but don't imagine I will, have it completed by Father's Day. I would like to return the love after having such a beautiful day this past Sunday and present this portrait as a gift.

The above images are some close ups of my favorite sections. The work as a whole has not fallen into place just yet. Here are the "before" images of the same sections:

The before pics, above, were charcoal sketches, plus washes of oil paint added. I've been building and changing colors ever since. I've been enjoying the journey but look forward to the outcome -- it's a labor of love, seen?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Putting Up A Resistance - A Mother's Day story

The decision to become first-time parents together was the easy part. Which, in retrospect, seems hilariously short sighted. I lived in NYC and he lived in Sav La Mar. It's probably a good thing we didn't think about the details too carefully since it might have derailed our little family before it even came to be.

I'd been watching him tend gently to the little ones in the family yard, always patient and with a warm smile. At first, I wondered if some of these pickney were his; it seemed logical, given his age and what appeared to be a common practice in that rural community. There were a whole heapah babies and Baby Mudda's but not a whole heapah wives and husbands with intact families. Not a lot of family planning going on.

He snorted at my question. "NO. Mi no haff no pickney. Mi coulda have one whole ARMY a pickney by now, but mi no wan' dem fi grow up like a mi: fadda-less and in the ghetto." That gave me goosebumps. He grew up never knowing his father, with barely enough food to feed him and the 6 siblings who arrived after. I had underestimated him. He was not the happy-go-lucky yardie, just out for a good-time party and cruising the back roads in a fast unit. He carried a heavy heart.

And it seems he had been watching me more closely than I realized. After multiple trips, including our intense, hair-raising accident early on, he began to gently ask me my intentions. "When yuh tink yuh wan' give me one yewt, Veektoddyah?" When did I want to have his baby? He'd said it with a gentle laugh and a smile but a sideways glance. Couldn't put too much of his heart out on the table if I was going to stomp on it real quick.

Timing, as they say, is everything. And it was the right time for us. Before too long, I was pregnant and we were both over-the-moon at the thought of it. The story of my husband's journey up to America is one I'll leave for another day, but suffice it to say that it was arduous and stressful. We both wanted him to be here before our baby arrived and he made it with just about 4 weeks to spare.

I should have known we were headed for trouble when we attended our first Lamaze class together. I'd been to several alone already, the odd single pregnant woman in a class of parental pairs. I was delighted to finally have him at my side. He, on the other hand, found it all ridiculous. The stop-watches, the odd breathing, the idea of being my "coach" were all more-than-foreign to him.

"All dis fuss over one likkle baby?", he asked, shaking his head.

Altho he'd been born in a hospital, his 6 siblings had all been born at home. And home was a two-room board house without indoor plumbing nor electricity. His granny had been the midwife and brought the other babies into the world with only a kerosene lantern to see and an outdoor wood fire to boil water. The facilities of Beth Israel Medical Center in lower Manhattan struck him as overkill. Altho' I had hoped to take advantage of the Midwifery Clinic at B.I., my insurance carrier had other ideas, so we were in the hands of my young, no-nonsense and very hot female OB/GYN. Dr. Fischer was sassy and brusque, but with a quick smile and a reassuring confidence.

And when The Day arrived, I gently poked my husband. "I think it's time," I whispered. He cracked open one eye and then closed it back again.

"Mi no wanna be in dat room," he whispered back.

"Oh, YES, you ARE going to be in that room," I smiled back at him.

"Seriously, veektoddyah, mi no really wan fi be in dat room."

To be frank, I wasn't looking forward to the experience in That Room either, but I had no choice. And neither did he. It was not up for discussion and I made that clear. I did not jump through a thousand bureaucratic hoops, hire an immigration attorney, pay outrageous Embassy fees and even called in a favor with a college friend working in the Clinton White House -- all just to make certain he got here in time for The Day, in order to go to the Labor and Delivery room alone. While he sat in some posh waiting area with his inlaws.

No. He was going to be in That Room. End of discussion.

I will spare you, gentle reader, all the details of that day. Labor and delivery room stories are usually only very interesting to those present. But our unique pairing did give us a few twists to the usual birth-day accounting.

When I was finally wheeled into our room, which was really less clinical than we'd imagined, more like a small cozy private hospital room with a few additional high-tech devices plus a comfy rocking chair, my husband headed straight for the far corner. He hunkered down, trying to be invisible. He wore huge dark aviator sunglasses and had quickly wrapped up his dreads in a red-gold-and green striped winter scarf. It was November, after all.

When Dr. Fischer strode in the room, took one look at him and his attempt to melt into the wallpaper, she knew right away that he was going to be a less-than-dependable assistant in the day's endeavor. Noting his dark glasses she snorted, "What, is it a little too BRIGHT in here for you, dads?" and then turned to me, raising her eyebrows. I sighed, "He really doesn't want to be here, he gets a little queasy at the thought of it all." So Dr. Fischer kept him busy with anything that could take HIS mind off of the queasy details. As if she and I didn't have enough to do.

But he made it, god bless him, without keeling over. He held my hand, rubbed my back, quickly agreed to leave the room whenever asked in order to get me a cup of ice chips (he loved that mission), and made repeated visits to the waiting area to keep the two sets of grandparents apprised of my progress. When he was obligated to remain in That Room, he held his station up by my pillow, sunglasses intact, probably gazing at the ceiling tiles most of the time. He did not want to see any head crowning, thank you, and no, he had no interest in cutting any kind of cord, thank you VERY much, not today.

But when that beautiful baby girl was placed on my chest, her eyes wide and blinking at us both for the first time, those sunglasses whipped right off and he knelt down to get a very close look. If you are a parent, then you know the feeling of that moment. As the attending nurse took her from me and prepared to whisk her off to the nursery for a bathe and the perfunctory weighing and measuring and so forth, my husband leaned down to me and whispered, "Mi gwan go follow her. Mi haffi mek sure she don't get SWITCHED."

If I hadn't been so wiped out, I think I would have burst out laughing. I just gave him a quizzical you-can't-be-serious look. "Ummm, what?", I said.

"Mi granny tell me to follow 'im, to nevah let mi eyes offa mi new baby. She seh in American hospitals, deh baby dem ALWAYS get SWITCHED. And true, our baby so nice and pretty, someone will want fi tek she, so me gwan stay by her side and mek sure it no happen."

And he did. He never left her side until she was brought back to me in my own room.

The small phalanx of nurses in that maternity ward, the bulk of whom were West Indian, found his protective and watchful eye over his new daughter quite endearing. Each one who came to the room packed my bag full of extra baby blankets, diapers and such, more than the standard issue of rations. In fact, it seemed that each nurse on that floor made an extra visit to our room to hand us "just a few extra supplies" to take home, having a soft spot for this new faddah from bakka yard.

"To hear 'im talk, yuh tink HIM give birth to dat lickle girl him SELF," one Jamaican nurse told me, when she was settling me and our daughter into my room for the night. "All he can talk 'bout is when he gwan tek him new baby bakka yard and show her to evry-baddy and show her all 'roun Jamaica and rae rae rae." She kissed her teeth but then smiled. "You an yuh dawta haff one good baby faddah, yuh know."

So it didn't matter that he resisted watching every second of her arrival, and that of her baby sister two years later, -- once those babies were here, his watchful, loving eyes have never left them. Although I love the flowers, cards and made-to-order breakfast on Mother's Day, those watchful, loving eyes are the greatest gift.

Then again, that i-phone you gave me today, honey? That's a really close second.......

Monday, May 04, 2009

You say verandah, I say porch

You say rain-ah fall, I say it's raining.

You say she bawl eye-watah, I say she's crying.

You say pin-weeng, I say penguin.

You say prop kahrn, I say popcorn.

You say flim, I say film.

You say pickney, I say kids.

You say neegle and noogle, I say needle and noodle.

You say electric city, I say electricity.

You say you had a vision last night, I say I had a dream.

You say ya wanta bile egg? I say, yes I'd like two boiled eggs, please.

You say mi soon come, I say 2 hours or 2 days?

You say mi luvya yuh know, I say yes, I know.

You say verandah and I say porch. No matter what you call it, the view from here is still beautiful..................