Acrylic Paints

While drawing illustrations, also am learning to use acrylics. Like anything new, to become familiar with a skill, some study and practice time has to be squeezed in. (Youtube is a plethora of sources of information on this subject as well.)

While it would be nice to go to a paint class, (if one fits in my scheduled – count me there), the publishing deadline can’t keep waiting. I have to play/practice on my own. Luckily my daughter is an artist and has worked in acrylics before. She is “coaching” me, through terminology and techniques.

Finding the right technique to go with the desired visual look with my beginner skill for the final illustrations is difficult. Maybe frustrating is a better word. Struggling between inexperience and determination is sheer will that will achieve the outcome. Excited to finally be on track.

Perspective of an image, the angle of viewing, can be just as critical as the visual imagery itself. Are you looking up, or down? What is in focus, is there anything out of focus? And if so, how much out of focus? The chosen colors and hues can convey much, initiating a bit of emotional response.

Nuances that writers work with and try out, have their own visual counterparts. This brings another layer to my work. What can be shown visually, leaves more space on the page for the written words to add another layer (or vice-versa).

My appreciation for visual artists has grown and become more complex. Now, looking at visual art, my thought process at each viewing encompasses the time it might have taken to produce, wondering how many times and perspectives might the artist have gone through to get to here. What was the inspiration for this piece?

On more than one occasion, my mind has wandered to consider whether or not drawing and painting will continue to be a part of my creative outlet once these projects are complete. The honest answer is, I don’t know.

Alliances

While my daughter was gone on vacation, Daisy Mae and me spent all our time together. Ok, so, it was Daisy Mae who spent all her time with me.

Normally, when my agenda has me out and about, Daisy has the companionship of her guardian. My presence is merely is as a substitute companion when her guardian is at work. My place on the order of Daisy’s importance is third.

During the absence of her guardian, my presence was priority. My absence during this week left me with the assignment of being slept on. Luckily, it was generally Daisy Mae on my feet, though most nights she placed herself between me and the edge of the bed.

If Daisy could have attached herself to my hip during the dreaded “Vacation Disappearance of The Guardian,” it would have happened. Now that the vacation is over, and her number two has returned, my demotion is obvious.

When the guardian left for work, Daisy Mae was found laying in the entry in front of the door the guardian had left by. Yeah, I am feeling the love.

Routes, Maps, Paths, or How I Got Here

There are many career paths with predetermined points along the way. Then there are some that don’t. The arts definitely have both kinds of paths.

The creative path tends to meander considerably, at least for me. Admittedly, coming off of nursing studies, with a straight forward check list and predetermined professional certification has been an adjustment. Writing was a distinct mental shift.

Learning to relax, get off the procedural focus and into the flow and ebbs of creativity, mostly it has been adjusting to the ebb has been tough. Going back to college helped some in learning how to best use those creative down times. Sometimes it has felt like being lost without a map, until a community of fellow writers shared their experiences, making me feel normal.

Many writers often uttered the cheer “WRITE!” Learning to write when there wasn’t inspiration was the biggest hurdle to clear. Just write. You can’t learn to edit yourself without something written. You can’t critique your own work, or have anyone else do it if you don’t have stories to work with. That’s the truth!

The quality really doesn’t matter. Anything practiced improves, same holds with writing. So it takes sitting and writing. Handwritten, typed, keyed on a computer, doesn’t matter, the production method, on the initial draft. Even if it is told out of order, misspelled, and grammatically incorrect.

Discovering a process that works for me to create the work has had its ups and downs. Looking back, my own efforts to push myself muddled the works. Now that the process is more or less lined out and some structure, some writing and illustrating are falling into place. It may very well mutate before long, doesn’t matter as long as it exists in some form.

The last three years have been an educational experience. Professionally and personally this has been subtle, “ah-ha!” moment. It seems to be a common experience writers all go through pursuing our dreams, learning about ourselves, as well as the skills that we need to fulfill them.

Once dreams begin to be fulfilled, what comes next is to dream BIGGER!

Wild Tangent

 

As you read this, I am starting my first day without my companion dog and running partner. Yes, it is a tough day.

Not that many people would want to read a dog’s obituary every day— but wait, some people do read obituaries every day about people. So why not an obituary about a dog?

But no, this isn’t exactly that, well, maybe it is. I am not quite sure because I have a heavy heart and many realizations about my relationship and unexpected dependence on this particular dog.

This furry mutt child kept watch by my feet for hours in the kitchen as an unpaid under appreciated cleaner and quite honestly a willingly gullible taste tester. She was wonderful for my ego. I couldn’t, by her standards, make anything inedible. She assured me of my culinary skills with a lick of her lips and every wag of her tail.

If I had trouble sleeping and moved throughout the house, she would follow me everywhere and congenially found napping spots close by. There will be a lot of things I will miss about her. Except, I didn’t get the chance to hold up my end of the relationship.

I put her down yesterday, in her prime, because she had an unexplained and unstoppable action of getting ahold of other animals between her jaws. She didn’t let go until forced to by choking her out; not pleasant for any of us. No command response, no loud noise, spraying with water, nothing opened her jaws short of this. Not just with me, but with my husband, daughter and son. In the last months of 2016, these episodes began to escalate, despite additional activity and training.

We had removed smaller animals, cats, and dog from the home, not knowing or understanding this behavior problem or its cause. In the last week she had less and less desire to play fetch and her bounce rhythm was off for catching mid air. After my second or third throw she began taking the ball and going to lay down in her corner of the yard. That corner is where we will put her remains.

The vet and I went round and round with possibilities, not taking any action on any of them because none of them had an end result of a different outcome. Not a single one came without an unknown factor of collateral loss and unrecognizable pain on her part.

This last time a human got nipped in the process. The last three times she had a hold of a dog her same size, pound for pound. The victim dog, she had known since each were a pup. The very last time they were near each other; the other peacefully sleeping, when suddenly she sprang and grabbed ahold of the sleeping dog beside her.

Was her eyesight deteriorating? Was it a brain tumor? Could she have been suffering a pain that was unbearable? We don’t know. After trying to keep her active and providing a safe environment for her, I still failed.

I couldn’t help this good dog. We, the vet and I briefly discussed other options. Options like other owners more suited to her needs and the reality of what could they do that I hadn’t.

Keep her in a cage all the time? I had an outdoor kennel run and a fenced in yard, I just didn’t see that as a human option. How cruel to take away freedom of movement and contact that she loved, sought and enjoyed. At first those bad moments happened once or twice a year. They could be explained away by a sudden noise or action.

Still, none of this explains what she means to me or the closeness that we shared. She let me read my stories to her. Its hard enough to get other humans to listen or read, but to have a dog that would pay attention? Lift up her head and lick my hand or face upon completion. Or maybe, that was relief that I had shut up!

Never mind, it was about having a beating heart there. Another living being happy to be hanging out all the time with me. Keeping me company in the kitchen, in the office, at the foot of the bed watching tv or reading; she was there. I talked, she listened.

I am not the only one blaming myself, or me for how her life ended too soon. I still hear the words of those who were closer than most telling me that we had done all we could. That she had a longer life than she would have otherwise. That I will never know the struggle or pain that she no longer has to live with because we have no way of knowing. I will be blamed, even though I did my best. My best, by some, will never be good enough.

Really, the only being that needs to know how much she meant to me, and how much I loved her, is her. She knew. She licked my face when I told her I loved her and I was so very sorry. She laid her head on my leg, she was sent to sleep in my lap. She passed away under the fall of my tears.