Friday, July 31, 2009

too many choices

I've been researching cameras in preparation for selecting a new one. The more I read the more confused I become. At Danny's suggestion I posted a question on Facebook asking advice from my friends about two brands I am considering. I received varied opinions, some off the cuff and others with solid facts. The trouble is, I can't find the exact cameras I'm looking for locally. Shopping has changed. We no longer have one or two camera stores that carry the small selection that used to be available. Now we have mega choices and mega stores that can't even stock every brand, let alone all the models.

This plethora of choices extends to almost every area of our lives in the 21st century. We don't go to the butcher and ask for the whole chicken to be cut up into pieces. We go to the supermarket and buy just thighs or wings or breasts. We can buy organic chicken or chicken "enhanced" with 12% solution of something or other, or factory pressed, ground or preseasoned slices. And that is just the chicken.

The decisions that we have to make every day may not seem earth shattering, but we have become so attuned to making the BEST choices for our health, happiness and pocketbook that it would be easy to go stark raving mad just trying to come to the correct conclusion.

The challenge would be, how do we decide which pill to take for the problem?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


In the early years of my existence I believed that "life happens." I was like a leaf, wafting from a tree, blown into a small stream, then caught on the rocks. After a heavy rain, I would be dislodged from my position and be pushed to another place, drifting along with the current until I came to another stopping point. I was moved only by the outside force of fate.

Gradually, I began to wake up to the idea of choices. I still followed convention, being buffeted by my desire to please others, but eventually I opened a door in my mind that offered a new view of life. There was no brass plate anouncing what I would find, but once through, I understood there was no turning back. I found art and fell in love with life.

Through education, experimentation and travel, I have found tools to help me navigate my path, but I realize that the experiences I had as a mere leaf in a stream helped create and strengthen my desire for change. Was that fate too?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Over the course of the last twenty years of painting, I have learned to let color and form help me explore my inner thoughts. And since traveling to Italy for the first time in 1996, I have followed an Italian muse, at times with expressionistic renderings of real places, as I return time and again to the country I love. But more and more I have progressed towards the evocative framework of abstract art, searching for a means to convey my appreciation for life.

My recent journey to the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill has helped me to see painting in a different way. "Working The Surface," taught by Bonney Goldstein, a painter I have admired for some time, was a revelation. Five days of experimental play with new techniques and new materials stunned my senses and sent me home changed to my core. Now when I go to my studio I hear her voice in my head, "don't overthink." My self applied pressure is abating and I am remembering the joy I felt in class, coming to terms with the idea of having no ideas. It is all about the paint. The way the colors juxtapose, the way the line and value and composition happen and happen again as I layer and add and subtract with my instincts, not with my mind.

Maybe it's my age, or maybe I was just ready for a change, but I've been such an introspective painter for so long, it may just be time to go for the meaningless and see what happens!

Monday, July 20, 2009

sore loser

I never would have guessed that I'm a sore loser, but that side of me is raising its ugly head. I was recently rejected from a juried art exhibition, but that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about my garden.

Back in March I carefully planted my Italian vegetable and herb seeds into peat pots filled with seed starter. I checked them for moisture every day, carefully watching for tiny green shoots breaking the surface of the soil. When the babies erupted I placed the pots in my sunny dining room windows, turning them cautiously every day to allow for strong, straight growth. Eventually the plants grew second leaves and I had to force myself to trim out all but the strongest growth in each little hard for me, but a good lesson I can apply in my painting studio. Keep only what is best for the plant or painting and eliminate the weak parts.

Soon my little nurslings grew into transplants. They went into big ceramic vessels, my reconstituted straw bale garden from last year, and the "in-the-ground" garden across the street in our neighbor's back lot. For a while, everything flourished, including the bean and squash seeds planted directly in the ground. Rain was plentiful, the sun shined and all was right in my world.

The sun shone relentlessly. No rain. The clay soil baked and cracked and the stalwart plants stood their ground, but began to breathe shallowly. Despite carrying water across the street, it was never enough to stop the downward spiral for that garden. Stressed by the weather, my plants are losing their battle to survive and I am really mad. I hate to lose what I grew from seed, nurtured into strong plants and tended with such expectations. Mad at the sun!

But like my rejection from that art exhibition, the death of my garden will not end my continued hope for next year. I rant and rave against what I can't control, but it's time to move on. Back to the studio, and oh, I can't wait until my new seed catalogs come.

Friday, July 10, 2009


Having recently returned from a trip to Massachusetts where I attended a weeklong art workshop in Truro, I've been "processing" my entire experience. The teacher of the workshop, Bonney Goldstein, was enthusiastic about sharing a wealth of information on materials and techniques, and I know my own work will benefit from her instruction. She was, however, heedful about having us watch her work, not wanting us to attempt the recreation of her paintings. This caution was a gift that ensured we identified how we could incorporate her knowledge and directions into our own vernacular language.

On this same journey, I had the opportunity to visit relatives, some of whom I had not seen in years... aunts and an uncle in their 90's, cousins who are my age, and my only sister. Seeing family brings back many memories, and being a reflective person, I began thinking about growing from the child I was into the "mature" woman I am today. My nature, nurtured by a family with specific traits, helped make me who I am. Yet, like my recent class experience, I understand that I've taken the materials and techniques of being a part of the extended Munro/Vaughn family and made my life my own. I can't be anyone else but Carol Beth Munro Icard, colored and shaped by experience, using my own voice, my art.