Saturday, January 16, 2016

Living in a Motor Coach

I'm still working on my autobiographical coloring book.  Drawing this little scene reawakened several memories for me.  First off was the oversized zip up snowsuit, mittens (probably with a piece of yarn connecting them through the arms of the snowsuit), and thin rubber boots that folded inward and were fastened with what looked like a big rubber band and a button.  Those boots did not keep my feet warm.  When I walked, the shiny fabric of the snowsuit made a sound like ZWOOP, ZWOOP, ZWOOP.

The other memory was of the trailer we lived in until my younger sister was born.  I have only vague memories of the trailer, and just a handful of photos.  I asked my aunt, my mother's older sister, if the trailer had a bathroom, but she did not remember.  I was too  young to need any plumbing, so I do not recall.  I do remember that when my grandparents build a new house, and we moved into the farm house, they installed indoor plumbing, and the wooden outhouse became a relic of the past.  I believe my parents moved into the trailer right after they were married in 1948. I came along at the end of 1950.

I did an internet search to see if I could find out more about the first place we lived.  I think lots of people lived in trailers after World War II; they weren't just for hauling behind your automobile.  I think I scored with the Atlas Mobile Home Directory site.  Our trailer had a nice streamlined shape, with a curved top, two doors with porthole windows.  This could be it:

I know the interior had what looked like wood paneling, linoleum floors, and lots of built in shelving and drawers.  It was compact at 28 feet in length, and probably about 8 feet in width.  At any rate, it was too small once my sister was born, and we moved into the drafty old stucco farmhouse that was my home until I went away to college.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Autobiography - One Coloring Page at a Time

I've been coloring, but I've also been drawing the past few days.  Actually I had the idea for an autobiographical coloring book while I was coloring something entirely different - maybe a page about Zorro.  It occurred to me that a parent and child might sit down to color together, and if the picture had to do with somebody in the family, a conversation might start about who that person is, what place the picture depicts, what pets (or toys, friends) the person had when they were a child.

So, this is me, with one over several pet crows my father kept for a time.  He loved animals, and we not only had the usual farm animals, cows, cats, dogs, but also occasional wild pets like crows and raccoons, and once foxes. All of the wild pets were freed once they reached maturity and preferred a mate to us and our attention. 

This drawing is of me, my father, and his collie mix farm dog, Shep.  I have pictures f Dad with this dog when he was in high school, so Shep was older than I was.  He was a sweet old softie, and when he died, perhaps the first living thing I remember dying, we wrapped him in a sheet and buried him under an apple tree in the orchard. 

So, this isn't painting or anything I'd take to the gallery, but it's entertaining for me.  I've also been doing a few for friends, trying to see if I can make anything interesting out of other people's photos. 

The jury is still out.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Anybody who has wandered through a craft store or a book store, cannot fail to notice all the adult coloring books currently on the market. Apparently there something for everyone,  geometric designs,  flowers, birds and butterflies, textile patterns, tribal designs, cats, you name it.  I was surprised and pleased to win a cat based coloring book at our family white elephant exchange - though I'd hardly call this adult coloring book a white elephant.  At any rate, I have hundreds of good colored pencils that I use infrequently, and they are perfect for coloring intricate designs.  They don't smell as nice a crayolas, but they look beautiful.

I know I colored as a child, lots of cartoon characters, farm animals, probably television characters like Zorro.  I don't know why I was surprised recently when I was looking online for a Janesville Daily Gazette from January, 1916, a hundred years ago, and found a drawing for youngsters to color:

At first I was surprised to find the detailed directions for coloring under the drawing, saying that the walls are gray, the dog black, Betty's dress pink, and so on, but later I realized that many of the contemporary coloring books I have flipped through have colored samples to copy.  I'm not sure why I think this is not only unnecessary, but down right wrong.  I can understand people not being willing or able to draw designs, but surely they can pick their own colors?

Anyway, it occurred to me that I could make some simple drawing of my life, an autobiographical coloring book.  Maybe I'd even make some copies for my small nieces to color - being certain to include lots of family members, and details from the farm.  I think this could be fun for me, if not for the nieces.  Later I could include some simple line drawings from Whitewater, where Dad had a shop and I went to college, some from Janesville where I have lived since I started teaching in the early 1970s. I don't know - maybe it'll end up being a slog and I'll give up.  But then again, maybe not.

I've considered designing other coloring books too.  How about tourist highlights of Door County?  Historic spots in Janesville or Rock County?  I have a feeling by the time I got either of these done the coloring craze will have passed.

Anyway, I tried a sample page for my autobiographical coloring book of my mother and father holding me looking worried - or maybe just nearsighted.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

First Post of 2016

When I first started this blog, back when I first retired, I tried to post every day - and I put up everything. I had photos of sunrises, recipes, pictures of food, poetry, family history.  And back then, people read each other's blogs, commented, and made friends over the ether.  But over the years I've narrowed my focus here to pretty much just art. 

I'm not sure that's such a good thing.

Of course the nature of internet posting has changed since I left teaching.  Social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and so on have superseded personal blogs, most of which seem to be filled with advertising that freezes up the screen of my aging computer.  Pretty much nobody makes comments any more, and probably pretty much nobody visits personal blogs any more.

This might be OK.  With few visitors and fewer comments, I can post about whatever interest grabs my brain today. 

So, first off, I have only one resolution for 2016, the same one I had in 2015 and 2014, which is to find a reason to celebrate something each and every month, and to share a bottle of champagne with my dear husband.  This has been a fine resolution, and has led to some very enjoyable times. 

On the topic of art, I have mostly been doing informal sketches in my many sketchbook/journals.  I keep thinking that at some point I might offer an informal group to teens in town on this topic, but I never seem to be at a place where I think I have my act enough together to do it.

I did sit down last night to paint an 8x10 inch acrylic for Julia Kay's Portrait Party, an online group in which I occasionally participate.  This is Valerie, whom I have never actually met, but whose dramatically lit photo called out to me.  I had the feeling I wanted to try some portraits using very bright colors, and in a stylized way.  My first try (not posted) was only marginally successful, but I rather like this one.