Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Italy or bust...

They picked up my paintings to ship to Italy yesterday. What an ordeal this has been. Just a little FYI about the Florence Biennale...should you ever get an invitation to is a VERY expensive endeavor and fraught with obstacles (ob-stack-alls) to ship artwork overseas!

Working with the Italians on this has been surprisingly organized in a way that things eventually happen that need to happen. But first you have about three inches of paperwork to fill out ...and you have to transfer large quantities of cash-o-la. Some of that has to do with our security regulations. (Customs is such a pain.) Then there is the 20% VAT (a tax on my $20,000 worth of do the math) because these paintings will be offered for sale, of course.

As for the paperwork...well...unlike the French (who I love) the Italians (who I also love) like to think they speak fluent English. When they write instructions in English however, certain prepositions can get a bit mixed up. Let's just say you might put something "in" the crate when it should be "on" the crate. That single vowel could create a bit of a problem. (Why would you put the address to the receiver "in" the crate?)

The good news is that they promise to take care of everything once the paintings are out of your hands. Well...the paintings are officially out of my hands. Thank God!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Flying into the Fire

One of my closest friends recently gave my husband and I a card that has a fifties couple driving a car, looking terrified, and it says, "If you are going through hell...keep going." I guess it's a quote from Winston Churchill. Funny. But it is also reality for us right now.

A few months ago, my dear husband of over 31 years was diagnosed with an untreatable, incurable, terminal lung disease. It’s called Pulmonary Fibrosis. He was a smoker for years, but it’s apparently not caused from cigarettes. Could be from Agent Orange from when he was in Viet Nam. They are still doing tests.

Of course, I quickly googled the name of our new enemy and was just a little freaked about the information I read. Pulmonary Fibrosis is an auto immune disease that basically turns the lungs into scar tissue. That sucks. People with this disease generally live for 3 to 6 years after diagnosis. So we have some time to prepare. But it was still a shock. Mike’s doctor could only offer us his heartfelt apologies and placed Mike on Prednisone and chemotherapy, which is helping him some. But, as you know, those drugs come with their own set of baggage. We have to watch for infection…colds…pneumonia.

Mike has probably had this disease for a few years. He started showing signs of it in fall of 2004. It really kicked into gear in spring of 2005 after his mother died. We don’t know how long we have, but we know that we are going to treasure the heck out of the time that we have. That’s what we should be doing anyway…each and every one of us. All of our days are numbered, you know. We are all terminal.

My initial thought, after I got over the shock, was that I want to live these days out with Mike in the most beautiful way possible…full of love, hope & faith. What I’m learning is that all I can hope for is to live these days out full of love and honesty. My feelings of hope and faith are not exactly in place some days. They have often been overcome by feelings of fear, dread, anger, frustration…in a word…hell. But I am learning to be grateful for even those days because they bring lessons that can be learned no other way.

Well meaning people offer advice. Less than a handful know what they are talking about. It only adds insult to injury if you listen to those who haven’t a clue. It’s not their fault. They haven’t been through it and are trying their best to deal with their own mortality. Just like me. No…I have to look elsewhere for strength and encouragement. Thankfully, I know exactly where to look.


I’ve been asked how this has affected my time in the studio. Have I lost inspiration? Well, if I hadn’t done so much homework on the subject that would be an issue. But, if you know anything about me, I am all about work begetting work. “Inspiration exists but it has to find us working” said Picasso. In other words: it’s not about feelings. It’s about work.

So, yes, I’m still painting. Only now I have my beloved sitting in the easy chair sawing logs next to the fireplace in my studio. And that’s just fine with me.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Winding Down

This painting is called, "Winding Down" (oil on canvas, 18" x 24"). Most of my paintings, especially the landscapes, are metaphors This is one example. But I have to admit that it is not an appropriate metaphor for where I am at these days. I feel like I am just winding up! I have so much on my plate.

I decided to post this piece is because of the color. Right now, the Pacific NW is alive with color. I am sure it's true for most of the country, but where I live it is in full Indian Summer regalia and it is truly breath taking. We live near a miandering creek called "Latah Creek". I never get tired of painting it. I usually take a lot of liberty with the composition, which makes most of my landscapes imaginary. Latah Creek has been my muse...for most of my life. She looks best in Autumn.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

First Impression

This is the third painting going to the Florence Biennale. It is called, "First Impression", oil on wood panel, 28" x 48". The three paintings are in the crate and all ready to go! I think they are being picked up on Monday. They have a month to get there, so I'm not too concerned. I'm paying (or rather my sponsor is paying) the rediculous 20% VAT on them and using the Italian's shipping agency, so I don't expect any issues. But you never know, do you? I have heard some pretty scary stories. We'll see if I'll be writing my own in a couple of months. (Hopefully not.)

I'm working on small pieces for an open studio sale now, which has been a lot of fun. It's been a while since I've worked small. I'll be posting them soon. I'm so inspired by my daily painter friends listed in my favorite painters' blogs list. If you haven't done so already, you really need to check these people out.