Monthly Archives: March 2017

Life’s Rich Pageant

Posted March 27, 2017 by Kerry McFall

flower bouquet with text about Alzheimers

“Alzheimer’s Flowers”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

My Mom was recently diagnosed with “Alzheimer’s pathology”.  That means her Rich Pageant is heading into a fog bank.  It’s complicated, this haze that comes and goes.  She is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it, falling back on the mythology of her generation, that “I survived the Depression and WWII and I can survive anything” brand of immortality.

As part of recent developments, my sweet sister-in-law and brother sent me this bouquet.  Sketching and painting have become an integral part of my days, an exercise in finding the good and praising it.  So I took this opportunity to include words describing the emotions that wash over us all.  The words are hazy to match the feelings.  The little strips of flowers are like that funky paper tape (Washi?) you see in crafts stores, not there for any particular purpose, not really holding anything together, but kind of like a bandaid that might make a kid feel a little bit better about the latest booboo.

And the pageant still marches on, slowing a little on this curve…


Life Drawing

Posted by Kerry McFall, March 18, 2017

All drawing is really life drawing, right?  Landscapes are geography and biography and every kind of life.  Cityscapes are filled with the architecture that has resulted from someone’s life.  Funny how the nude human body is what most artists think of, though, when someone uses the term “life drawing”.

I’ve been doing some life drawing, or as I prefer to call it figure drawing, at our local Arts Center‘s Open Studio evenings.  It’s daunting, but I’m determined to keep at it.  Human flesh tones seem unforgiving.  Human shapes require accurate representation, at least if you’re going to satisfy the Resident Critic at my house.  There is no formal instruction, just a bit of informal critiquing among a handful of folks.  The models so far have been very cooperative, even fascinating, posing in a not-very-warm basement, bringing their own props, costumes, and sound tracks.  One even brought her very own live turkey!

I’m not very confident about posting nudes online, so I choose the ones that are mostly covered.  I suppose that’s a holdover from my mother’s prudish condemnation of anyone older than 6 months appearing anywhere anytime in their “birthday suit”.  I confess that I still feel just a bit naughty when I’m in a room with naked people.  Or it could just be a creeping suspicion that some mysterious censor somewhere is going to see my drawing of a nude and ban me forever from the Internet.  We’ll see, won’t we?

Sweet Violets

Posted March 15, 2017 by Kerry McFall

painting of dog violets

“Sweet Violets”, mixed media by Kerry McFall, prints available

My Sunday stroll took me to the Covered Bridge Path on the OSU campus.  It was the first mostly-sunny day in an eternity, and the community was out in force, mostly biking and running.  Even with the sun shining, everything was still saturated, and the violets I discovered peeking out of the old oak leaves at the edge of the asphalt were pretty soggy.   The true miracle of violets, however, is that no matter how drippy, they still send up their sweetly scented promise of spring.  Maybe we won’t all be washed away after all!

Every sketch or painting provides lessons to learn.  For this one I was fiddling with contrast, trying to push the values so the sunny bits would really pop out of the dark, wet background.

I started with just watercolors, blocking in some pale grass color and bright purples, then added black ink lines and a lot of green.  After that, I fussed and bothered over every little detail, using a white Signo Uni-ball pigment paint pen, lifting color with a damp brush, adding textured emphasis with the side of a colored pencil… until finally I decided that I needed A) stronger paper, and B) to stop fussing and bothering!

When I convert my jpg photos to gif format for web viewing, PhotoShop always provides a little palette created from the painting in a corner of the preview pane.  Being a quilter, I find these irresistible.  Wouldn’t it be fun to make a tiny quilt for every painting… ?  to hang alongside?  Maybe someday, when life is slower… HA!  Dream on.

The “42 Degrees and Raining” Blues

Posted March 7, 2017 by Kerry McFall

This is almost the worst weather Oregon has to offer.  It’s not just that it’s cold and wet and gray and miserable, the real issue is that it’s been like this for an eternity.  Since February 1st.  Seriously.  Oh, sure, there are a few soggy crocus here and there, but it’s too ugly and windy and wet to even go for a walk to see what’s sprouted lately.

Sketch of Audubon's warbler on suet feeder

“Suet Wars”, mixed media by Kerry McFall

When we returned from San Diego, I dug out the old suet cage and popped in a block of whatever Schmidt’s Garden Center had to offer last time I was there.  It didn’t get much attention for a month or so, but given the non-stop gross weather, it’s been a real hot spot this week!  When this fellow showed up a few days ago (Audubon’s warbler, aka yellow-rumped warbler according to Google), I was thrilled: color outside the dining room window!  Warm, golden – COLOR!  Then, lo and behold, a pair of bluebirds.  More COLOR, cheeky, sleek, and fairly exotic for this intown neighborhood!  Then some sassy juncos started a bit of a turf war with the warblers this morning, and it was hysterical to watch the strutting and bullying and yes, twittering… almost as much fun as watching an SNL skit about Trump… but I digress.

I begin to understand why people enjoy bird watching.  But just when you’ve found something relaxing and blood-pressure-lowering, some flea-bitten random cat slinks through the back yard and you come unglued, yelling and pounding on the window…    Ah, Spring!