Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | February 14, 2018

Day 2: Painting a Mural of Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly

Monday, February 12, 2018

It was quite a job taking the sheet of MDO board off my easel by myself, but I managed. I dragged it down to the opposite end of my painting room and over the next hour managed to get it up on the shelf I’ve created (see photo below) and secured to the wall. I raised it a bit above the shelf by attaching a 1″ x 3″ board to the shelf. I did not want to nail or screw through the panel, so I put nails at the top and bent them down to hold it against the wall. At the bottom, I just drove a couple of nails into the 1″ x 3″ board in front of the panel to keep it from slipping.

After a light sanding with a 150 grit sandpaper, the panel was ready for the primer. I decided to mix my own burnt sienna using Kilz-2 primer, red, deep yellow and ultramarine blue. Mixing color is a bit like cooking a stew. You just keep adding this and that until you reach what you want. It took a while.

I then applied this burnt sienna primer to the panel. While the paint was still wet, I flicked a large piece of paper towel (actual 3 pieces) to make the surface uneven. You flick instead of press because you don’t want the paper pattern in the paint. Here is the panel after the primer was on. I am hoping some of this mottled background will show through in the finished painting.

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Front of panel with mottled,  burnt sienna primer

 

The last thing I did today was through the marvel of Photoshop, transform my color reference photo into dimensions to fit my 4′ x 8′ panel and change the color to grayscale. If you do not have Photoshop, you will have to crop your photo to fit the dimensions of your proposed surface and probably just use the “color” photo. I next took my photo into my layout program to draw guidelines. Some people use an Adobe layout program, but I use Quark. If you don’t have a layout program, print your photo, measure and hand-draw lines that fit the dimensions of your mural. Since my surface is 4′ x 8′, I divided my grayscale photo into a 4 x 8 grid.

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Grayscale photo with grid lines

 

In my next session, I will go into detail on how to grid your photo and panel for transferring your drawing to the panel. 

© Mtnwoman Silver 2018

Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | February 12, 2018

Day 1: Painting a mural of Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly

Friday, February 2, 2018

Last August, my husband and I spent 9 days camping and hiking in the Four Corners area–Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico. I have decided to paint Spider Rock and to keep a record of each day’s progress. My last 4′ x 8′ mural took over three months because I could not work on it every day. This one may take even longer.

I thought you might like to see the step-by-step process. There are probably more efficient ways, but I am self taught as far as doing murals, and this is my method. I bought an MDO (medium density overlay) sign board because it is more water resistant than the regular plywood I used before and is not supposed to warp. I bought it already primed but decided to lightly sand it and put another coat of primer on each side and on the edges.

I am painting the back side a medium grey primer and the front side a burnt sienna because I like the warm color coming through my greens. I am using Kilz-2 as a primer and Golden carbon black to make the gray primer.

I started with the board on my big easel but find it is too unstable. I plan to move the board and attach it to my painting wall on the other end of the studio. I will wait until the back side is finished and then move it.

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MDO Board sanded

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MtnWoman Silver priming back of MDO board

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Back is finished

 

© MtnWoman Silver 2018

 

 

 

 

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Last week, I finished reading “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States” and still feel a bit shell-shocked. My husband and I have spent a few weeks reading this book aloud stopping frequently for discussion or comments. It is not an easy read. At times, I was angry, shocked, filled with disbelief of the facts, and saddened to tears.

This is not the history we learned in school. As kids, we grew up thinking George Washington could not tell a lie, that Andrew Jackson was a great heroic figure who saved New Orleans, and that Abraham Lincoln made all people free at last. We celebrate Thanksgiving as a symbol of the friendship between the first colonialists and the “Indians” and honor Columbus for “discovering” this new world for all of us settlers.

The history of my ancestors stretches back on this continent to the late 1600s. So yes, we were definitely the colonialist settlers portrayed in this book. We came to the colony of Virginia seeking land and opportunities we did not have back in England. In studying my genealogy, I found three characteristics of every generation. They were religious (many were ministers), they were most often farmers or did other manual types of work, and they believed in going forth and populating the earth (many had more than a dozen offspring).

My ancestors migrated into every new opening of territory. My particular branch spread out from Virginia to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, down to my father who lived mostly in Mississippi and Louisiana. True to his heritage, my father was a preacher, farmer, migrant worker, car mechanic, truck driver, etc. doing anything he could to support his family. 

My ancestors served in all the wars and as veterans were given land in new areas taken from the Indigenous Peoples. Arriving in Georgia in the early 1800s, they lived on land awarded to them by the government for their soldiering. At that time, the Indigenous Peoples in Georgia were the Creeks and the Cherokees. Most of these two groups were forced to relocate from Georgia to Oklahoma Territory in the late 1830s. I do not know what interactions my ancestors had, if any, with the Indigenous Peoples of Georgia.

While reading this book, I felt often as I did during the feminist movement back in the 1970s. My consciousness was being raised; I was becoming “aware”. This book brings us a new way of perceiving the “history” of the United States, a new way that challenges what we have been taught and accepted as true. It also tells us what today’s Indigenous Peoples are experiencing in their fight to live in this land that once was theirs. Just as disturbing are the observations about how our country is still using some of the same practices that stole this continent to enter and “take over” other countries around the world.

This is a very thought-provoking book.

© MtnWoman Silver 2018

 

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Thiel Munro by MtnWoman Silver 2018

Storytelling, according to Wikipedia, describes the social and cultural activity of sharing stories, sometimes with improvisation, theatrics, or embellishment. Every culture has its own stories or narratives, which are shared as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation or instilling moral values.

The first time I heard Thiel Munro tell a story to a small group I attend, I was spellbound. He was not only the teller; he was each character with different voices and mannerisms. I was lost in the story from the beginning until the last word when I bounded up exclaiming, “You can come back and do this any time!” I have now had the pleasure of seeing him perform several times. I hope you enjoy this insightful interview with him.

Q:  How did you become interested in storytelling?

A:  In 1985 my mother, Vanita Sellmer Moore, took a class in storytelling from Bob Jenkins at San Jose State University in California while working on her Masters in Theater, and we both started performing immediately. We were living in the bay area and were heavily involved with a network of talented tellers. I got lots of opportunities to tell at swapping grounds and some professional work. My first paid job was telling during the morning and afternoon at a bluegrass festival called The Strawberry Bluegrass Festival. I was 9 or 10 years old. 

Q:  When did you first start telling stories? If you remember your first time, how did you feel? How were you received? Was it a positive or negative experience?

A:  My first storytelling performance was opening for my elementary school play with two short stories in the fourth grade. The performance went great; at least I think it did.  I also had a part in the play. My family worked with a theater group called Children’s Theater Workshop.  I was doing enough acting and storytelling that it never seemed like too big a deal.  I had been working with CTW since second grade.

Q:  Formal training, if any. How did your education influence your storytelling?

A:  I have taken dozens of workshops with seasoned professional storytellers on what seems like every aspect of the craft.  Some of the tellers I studied under include Gay Ducey, Jay O’Callahan, Steve Sanfield, Bob Jenkins, David Novak, Dianne Ferlatte, Michael Parent, Jim May, Chuck Larkin, David Holt, Barbara McBride-Smith, and many more. Most of the workshops were 3 or 4 days long and offered lots of chances to be coached by my peers and mentors.  My bachelors in theater gives me more opportunities to tell and a greater appreciation for my craft.

Q:  Do you love reading? Do you keep a journal?

A:  I go hot and cold with both.  Sometimes I am ravenous and consume every play, poem, short story and novel I can get my hands on.  I also kept a thorough journal for about three years but haven’t recently.

Q:  Please tell us your process in choosing a story to tell (What are you looking for?), learning the story? When you tell a story, do you use notes?

A:  It’s sort of like explaining why a particular band is your favorite.  Some stories just have an x-factor that draws me in. I have also learned stories because I was putting together a performance on a particular theme and some by request.  I like to find the strongest images for me and then find a rhythm for the story. I tell it over and over to myself until it just feels like second nature. I then accept that it won’t sound like this the first telling or the second. It takes most stories lots of times in front of an audience before they find a good voice.

Q:  How is storytelling the same or different from acting?

A:  Acting is much more structured. Lots of people are counting on you to do the same thing, or relatively close to that thing you did every night before. As a storyteller, I have a lot more freedom not only in how I perform but in my material. While some stories I tell almost exactly the same every time, I have the freedom to adapt as it is necessary for each particular audience.

Q:  Do you use props when telling the story? Examples.

A:  Sometimes I juggle or play harmonica or percussion.  I find that juggling torches or playing harmonica is a great way to draw in a crowd before the show.  My mom often uses puppets when she tells.  I never have

Q:  Describe a success or failure. How do you judge yourself?

A:  A good friend set up a gig for me at the nursing home she worked at. She and I had a playful friendship. She told me, “Max is the meanest and most cynical person here. I put him in the front row. Have fun!” She smiled. During the performance, someone in the third row vomited. Someone walked out an emergency exit. The kitchen at the back of the room was banging pots and pans. A nice woman in the front row decided to come tell me about every 45 seconds what a great job I was doing and that she would be right back. Then, she would walk in a couple of circles and sit back down. It was a long 45 minutes. After the performance, I asked my friend how Max liked it.  She told me that no one comes to visit him, and that he felt like it was the first time he got to leave the home in years. So, even when it feels to me like I am completely failing, I don’t know what the experience looks like from the audience’s viewpoint. That experience humbled and inspires me.

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Thiel Munro by MtnWoman Silver 2018

Q:  How does where you live influence your storytelling?

A:  I have moved every few years my entire life. It usually takes me a little while to start feeling comfortable and to meet the right people. Eventually, I find chances to tell stories wherever I live.

Q:  How many stories do you keep in your repertoire? Do you have to practice all of them all the time?

A:  I have around 15 that I can tell pretty easily or with a little time recalling them. I have a lot more that are sort of lingering around. I find that I realize just how many stories I know when I am requested to tell them. I worked at a school for a couple of years, and I can confidently say I told at least 75 stories during lunch and recess.

Q:  How do story telling opportunities come your way? Are they paid or not?

A:  Word of mouth. I find that each time I perform, someone comes to me with another opportunity. Most of my performances are paid, but I have cut my rates pretty drastically for shelters, rehabs, places with tight budgets. I hate selling myself, but it is a necessary part of being an artist and respecting the craft you have nurtured. I need an agent.

Q:  As an artist myself, I know that creative people with a passion often need to supplement their creative income with a more regular job. Can you tell us how you have supported yourself at times?

A.  I have worked mostly as a waiter and a barista (coffee shop expresso maker) but have also been a substitute teacher and a paraprofessional in schools. I have managed a telemarketing call center and a pizza place, been a traveling salesman, and was once a character actor who walked around as Fred Flintstone at Kings Island.

Q:  Do you use your name or a stage name when you perform?

A:  My name is weird enough.

Q:  Any advice you would share with someone interested in becoming a storyteller?

A:  Go to some storytelling festivals and see what type of telling excites you. You could tell in sign language, with instruments, from your heritage, as performance art. You could tell just like you were in your living room or on a front porch, etc.  The options are completely up to you. Also, seek out local guilds. Local guilds provide lots of opportunities to tell. Trust me, they want to hear from you.

Q:  How can people connect with you?

A:  thielmunro@gmail.com 

Thank you, Thiel. I hope all of you who are interested in storytelling or becoming a storyteller will check out some of the well-known storytellers Thiel has studied with. Many are still conducting workshops. Also, I would love to hear from you about how listening to or telling stories has changed your life.

Here is a link for storytelling tips: http://storytelling.org.nz/?page_id=267

 

© MtnWoman Silver 2018

 

 


Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | January 15, 2018

Choosing the Best Eggplant: Boy or Girl?

This is info, on picking the best tasting eggplant, written by one of my favorite bloggers although she hasn’t been around for awhile. I’m hoping she will start back blogging because she is a fine writer.

My Wintersong

Do you know how to choose the best eggplant? Over the years as much as I’ve enjoyed eggplant, I have to admit sometimes the ones I bought and cooked tasted bitter. I tried different ways to take the bitter out, like salting down the slices very heavily and leaving them to sweat on towels for awhile, then washing the salt off, patting the slices dry like my Italian boss told me to do years ago, but the intermittent bitter eggplant was always a problem. Now maybe a lot of you are a lot smarter than I in these things, but until recently I never knew how to choose consistently good, not bitter, eggplants. Not so anymore.

When we were in Seattle at the famous Pike Street Market I happened to see a woman from one of the colorful veggie stalls in the middle of the sidewalk talking about eggplants. I…

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Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | January 8, 2018

How Did Silver Become MtnWoman? (Encore).

In 2009, I wrote a blog about my name. I have met so many new people in the last 8 years, I decided to repost this blog. I became Silver (legally) in 1989 and publically, MtnWoman, in 2009. Have any of you ever changed your name? I would like to hear of your experiences because of your name change.

Here is a link to the original post: https://mtnwomansilver.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/how-did-silver-become-mountainwoman/

 

Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | January 6, 2018

Art is So Alive in the Paseo Arts District

This has been a wonderful two days, art wise. Yesterday, I saw Oklahoma artist, Denise Duong, in a segment of Gallery America on OETA. Her whimsical figures always intrigue me, and when I heard her say she had recently opened a gallery in the Paseo Arts District, I had to go to the First Friday Art Walk to check it out.

Her Little D Gallery is located at 3003A Paseo Drive. Exhibited there are not only large and small mixed-media works but also drawings of multiple figures (the ones I love) on wide, horizontal strips of paper about a foot high. Every figure is fascinating.

The crowd at Little D Gallery was so dense, I couldn’t get near to Denise and decided I would return on another day, hopefully to talk with her and study her artworks. Here is an image I got off Google to show an example of her drawings.

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Of course, my husband and I browsed other galleries also, and of course, certain artworks really impressed me. Three artists at JRB Gallery made my list of favorites. Marilyn Artus was showing three of her fiber flags (I will need to return to study them more); there were three of Diana J. Smith’s outstanding dolls; and I loved the American Indian figurative paintings of Mike Larson. Down at Studio One, the landscapes of Gilbert Thompkins never fail to give me joy. At In Your Eye Gallery, I learned that photographer, Caroline Cohenour, is now painting. The new works are well worth a visit.

That’s it for now.

Copyright 2017 MtnWoman Silver

 

Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | January 1, 2018

Christmas 2017–Bah! Humbug!

Christmas seemed odder this year or maybe, it was just me. My pattern is for the two or three weeks after Thanksgiving, I start voicing that I would like to skip Christmas this year or that I wish I could just go to sleep and wake up on January 2.

Around December 12, my husband began putting out signs of coming Christmas. He even went to Wal-Mart and bought some laser thing-a-ma-jig that projects hundreds of sparkling lights dancing across the front of the house and garages. Really pretty! He did the usual wrapping of lights around a sculptured, metal tree in the yard. He hung large striped bows on each side of the garage doors.

Finishing up the exterior, he turned next to the inside of the house. First, he put electrical candles in the front and side windows. When he was ready to do his task of assembling the 20-year old, 6-foot tall, artificial tree, I said, “I don’t want to put up the tree this year. Why don’t you get a little one and set it on the coffee table.”

Well, that didn’t sit well with him. His expression spoke volumes as he said, “You know you feel like this every year. When I get the tree together and you decorate it, you’ll start feeling Christmassy. I promise.”

“No,” I answered. “I don’t want you to put it together. I don’t want to decorate it this year.” He left it at that and disappeared.

The next day, I was piddling around tying large, red bows to the tops of three table lamps when in he comes lugging a big, two-branched root from my studio yard. I recognized it immediately. A few years ago, a man named Robert had given it to me as a decoration in my garden.

“Well,” I exclaimed. “That looks interesting!” I got up to examine it.

The root was covered with loose bark, and I did not wish it to drop debris onto the carpet. It definitely had possibilities, tho. We brushed off some of the bark, and I found two bricks and a half of a cinder block which I set up in the corner of the living room where the tree is normally placed. My husband brought in a short, wooden, decorative ladder to lean against the wall to help stabilize the root. By then, I was in the swing of things. He sat down and watched as I began decorating the “tree”.

First came two stands of lights wrapping the root from top to bottom. I hung a few of my dozens of ornaments and secured a small angel to the top. I wrapped the bricks and cinder block with a tree skirt and placed some decorative objects around it–a sleigh filled with greenery, a white, ceramic cat, and a lighted package. Voila! In less than an hour, Christmas had appeared in the corner of the room and the coldness encircling my heart began to thawtree 2017

Over the next weeks, I could write the Christmas newsletter, send out the cards and gifts, receive gifts from distant loved ones, sing with the choir for a nursing home, attend the candlelight, Christmas Eve service, enjoy phone calls with my sons and family, and share all these Christmas traditions and blessings with my wonderful husband who embodies the Christmas spirit year round.

 

Copyright 2017 by MtnWoman Silver

Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | December 31, 2017

Transitioning From “Artist” to a Human Being

I began this blog in 2009 to promote myself as a visual artist. I limited my postings to my paintings and quilts and news of exhibits and gallery goings-on. In 2015, due to some curves sent my way by LIFE, I absented myself from the galleries. I lost interest in my current creative efforts. In April, 2015, I traveled to St. Louis to see my niece who had advanced leukemia. There was little I could do for her. By years end, death took my niece, my beloved father-in-law, and a dear friend.

With that many deaths, I began to examine my own life–where I was, and where I was going. What would I leave behind when I died? Was what I had been striving for all my adult life worth the effort? From 2009-2015, I had worked with two galleries, had both group and one-person exhibits, won some awards, sold some work, been featured for a segment on a news show, and had write-ups in several magazines.

I seem to be slowly doing all the right things to gain me recognition. Yet, with each accolade, I wanted it less and less. Everyone I met always inquired, “What are you working on these days?” “Where are you showing?” “When is your next exhibit?” I was always introduced to people as an artist, no mention about any other aspect of my life. I was a one-note person. The more recognition I received for art, the less I liked being the focus of people for that reason.

All of 2015, the only art I was doing was ink drawings in a 3″ x 5″ sketch book; I really considered I was doing nothing. In 2016, I began creating paintings of some of these drawings, choosing to do them in black and white and grey. (Maybe the deaths had something to do with eliminating color.) So, when people asked, I could now say I was working on a black and white series. In 2016, I finished 10 paintings ranging in sizes from 18″ square to 24″ x 36″. I hit a wall with 10 more paintings planned. No painting in 2017. Silver's-Studio-3-July-2107-w

Not only was I questioning whether my well had run dry artistically, I was struggling with “meaning of life” issues. I’m still in the middle of those questions and will deal with some in future  blogs. I know I have created some wonderful and worthwhile art, but is that all I will be remembered for?  What kind of friend am I? What kind of mother, sister, wife am I? What kind of citizen am I? ‘

I hope you will stay tuned and give me feedback on future posts.

Copyright 2017 by MtnWoman Silver.

Posted by: MtnWoman Silver | November 20, 2014

Art in a Series

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Self-Portrait: A Joyful Noise

In 1982, I painted in pastel on paper (18″ x 24″) a work I called “Self-Portrait: A Joyful Noise”. It was inspired by an idea I had about the source of creativity. It begins in the center and blossoms out into a gorgeous stylized flower. Every color in the flower is also in the center circle. The rays represent how the creation spreads out to infinity touching everything. It sold almost immediately leaving me with just a photographic record of it. Creating this painting seemed easy although it took three days to complete; color choices and placement just flowed, everything working harmoniously. It was pure magic.

In 1988, I decided to paint another pastel using the first as inspiration. This one was 32″ square but still using the idea portrayed in the first. I had a lot of trouble creating the second painting. Sometimes a color I chose would clash with one next to it creating a disharmonious grouping.  Other areas of colors were just lovely together. I worked on this painting for six months. Somewhere in the middle of painting it, I began thinking of it as if it were a church congregation. In church, you may be sitting with other members with whom you disagree on many things. You may not get along at all, but all of you are still part of the congregation. At other times, you are with people you totally agree with; you have perfect harmony. When the painting was finished, I offered it to Baton Rouge Unitarian Church, and it was accepted for their permanent art collection.

The Congregation

 

In November of 2013, I again took up this theme. I played around with a filter in Photoshop and created a swirling image. This one was just as difficult to do as the last one but for different reasons. Both of the previous paintings were done in pastel on paper. This one I chose to create with acrylic and inks on gallery-wrapped canvas. The size is 36″ square.

At first, I tried to use the same colors as the second painting, but finally abandoned that idea. As a result, this painting is very different from the previous two. For the past two years I have been painting vivid acrylic abstracts on which I drew with ink after the paintings were dry. Mostly, I use black India ink. For this painting, I added some silver and copper inks around the edges of the painted areas. I paint to classical music and Native American flute music, so that influenced the title of this painting. I finished this painting one year after starting it.

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Unfolding Melody

I feel that all three paintings are dealing with the source of creativity.

 

© MtnWoman Silver 2014

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