Monday, June 28, 2010

Watermelons and Flies

Saturday Night Watermelons, acrylic

(Seat and back were sanded; gesso was applied to area to be painted; at least two coats of acrylic paint were used; then an isolation coat; finally, three coats of archival satin varnish. All products were manufactured by Golden Acrylics.)

The owner of Sacs So Bo Eclectique asked if I would paint a chair for Third Thursdays. Third Thursdays are held in South Boston VA to raise money for arts. First I said "No;" then I said "Okay." How hard could it be? Answer: Very hard for someone like me, who usually paints without a plan.

A child's golden oak chair was delivered; I waited for it to tell me what it wanted to be. It said "I'm already beautiful and would like to be a footstool."

All my paintings have been on canvas or panels--a chair seat calls for a different perspective. I considered a painting of a robin's nest, or birds looking down at a parking lot (deciding which car to bomb), or a cup of spilled coffee. I wanted the beauty of the wood to show so I chose a napkin with cut-work; I don't have one so I made it up. What to put on the napkin--fruit, but fruit is boring. I saw a watermelon at the produce stand--not a seedless one but one with black seeds--like the ones from childhood.

I remembered summer Saturday nights as a child. Friends gathered at our country store--ten to twelve children. We played hide-and-seek, red rover, and jumped rope. A parent would bring out a home-grown watermelon and a large butcher knife. One well-placed whack of the knife cut three-quarters through the watermelon; then it was broken in half. The same method was used for each slice. We stood and ate our slices, bent over to keep drips off our clothes. I'd look up and see an older boy holding his dripping rind. "I'm gonna wash your face!" I'd run screaming and laughing through the yard; he'd catch me and rub the rind all over my face and hair. To bugs, I was the most attractive being in the Universe.

I don't think the bugs looked like these--I spent a lot of time researching flies. I know that they have large eyes and six legs. I could not determine whether their wings go up and down or back and forth. I guess these are Farber flies.

Working conditions were not ideal; I improvised. The chair fit perfectly over my trash can--just the right height.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


The Wilkersons in 1942
(I'm the one with the bald head and bare feet)

Some fathers are strong--they lift.

When Dad was 12, his father was killed in an accident. Dad quit school and worked so his siblings could stay in school. I was born in the back of his country store; then Dad (with Mom's help) built our house--obtaining plumber's and electrician's licenses as needed. He dealt in antiques and owned several farms.

At 40, he went to college. At 46, he graduated from Southeastern Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC and became a full-time Baptist minister--his dream. I think he was a minister long before he earned his degree.

When he was dying, he said "Tell Estelle (my mother) that it's beautiful." I think he might have been in heaven before his last breath.

He taught us that learning never ends; to stand for what we believe; to carry turtles to the other side of the road; and to act silly at least once a day.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Celeste Inspires

1963, Seen but Not Heard

I visit Celeste Bergin's blog often. She paints every day--landscapes, animals, cowboys, people, flowers--all beautiful. Several weeks ago, she posted a self-portrait that she'd covered with pthalo blue. I spent at least 30 minutes moving the cursor hand around her face. What fun. When the hand covered the mouth, I thought "Seen but Not Heard." I found a photo from 1963 and whipped out a portrait (in only eight days--fast for me). 1963 was a time of black eyeliner, high heels, and high hair. For some women, finding one's voice took a while (I would not go back). I always feel old photos are of some acquaintance--not of me. The blue tint and cursor drawing were added in Corel.

This is the painting, which was troublesome--I originally gave myself a longer neck, large pupils (like after a visit to the ophthalmologist), a too-long chin and a too-short upper lip. I judge this as okay and I might just cover it with pthalo blue--acrylic, 14x11. It has no title yet--maybe "Only my Hair was High."

The photo was taken when I was not quite 21 and living in D.C. The photographer had been trained by the Navy in aerial photography, then assigned to submarine duty. We were co-workers; I married him. He was an offset photographer at the Commerce Department, and retired in 1992 as a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce. (Where is my left shoulder?)

I am surprised by the resemblance in this photo to earlier blogs: "Woman in a Rain Bonnet" (April 26) and "A Leftover Chicken" (Feb. 24).

An update on the local ospreys. They are alive and well, and keeping an eye on the ball.