Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dye Vats Taking Shape

I am learning much about oil painting. Layer upon layer. It reminds me about my walk with Jesus. It is so multi-faceted and layered with grace upon grace. When we look at each other's story using sound bites or a couple of sentences, we don"t hit truth. There are times of removing something that will not enhance the story. I am learning about oils, but more importantly, I am learning about my relationship with Jesus.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Dye Vats - Adding Color

I have begun adding color to the dye vats, and I wasn't able to photograph it in good light....but you get a bit of an idea. 

Today, I was running around doing errands, ordering a long canvas to paint a Moroccan window upon, and I was enjoying a new bookstore/coffee/donut shop I stumbled upon. Before I knew it, I was reading Mary Oliver poetry, sipping coffee or lovingly touching all the art books and art supplies the store was stocked with to overflowing. Artists love touching art supplies and dreaming about large studio space.

The dye vats continue.....I hope to spend more time on them tomorrow.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Moving day was today. I have had to say farewell to the chickens and dogs and the wonderful owners of the pets.

What dear friends I am blessed with!

Of course, I am slow in taking a photo today, so in the evening light, my latest painting looks alive with fire. It is not nearly as brilliant as this jpeg suggests, and I hope to add colors for the dye vats tomorrow. I also hope to take a daylight photo. I have all the under-painting completed, so let the colors begin to fly!

I have moved back to my lovely Lake House retreat with amazingly kind friends, and I am looking forward to finishing up the series of Moroccan paintings before my next assignment.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Dye Vats of Fes - Day 2

I woke up to snow again this morning. I've been house sitting a lovely home with two really nice dogs, 4 hens and a rooster(sounds almost Islamic.) I spend my day opening and closing the door for the dogs, playing with them, feeding them and reassuring them their family will be home soon. I share a little popcorn with them, and then I wonder if that's the wrong thing to feed dogs, especially someone else's cute, well-loved dogs. The dogs lie down for naps, and I feel encouraged to do the same.

The chickens have had the same care, except I don't play with them. The chickens seem more foreign to me, but I am trying to work through that. They flutter and cackle in ways strange to me and all my limited pet experience. Last night, the rooster landed on the edge of the fence around the hen house; I gave him a good pep talk about how he needed to get back with his hens and responsibilities. No go. I got a small branch of a fir tree that was ladened with snow and swooshed him back into his gaggle of girls. He flew backwards and so did I.

I then watch the news about Libya and see the odd pictures of their leader. Does he have anyone to give him hints about clothing options? I hear he has forty armed virgins guarding him at all times. I wonder if this is all gossip and hype. With forty of them, he should look better, and act better. Maybe forty is actually harmful.

The commercials remind me I need to exercise, or at the very least, buy some exercise equipment for two installment payments of $39.99 each. I decide I should quit napping and reading, and I pour myself a second cup of Nicaraguan coffee. Just two days ago, I was living a lot closer to the earth, so to speak. As Donald Miller puts it, post-Nicaragua, I am living on top of my creature comforts, on top of the earth.

I read a good article online with an interview of Bono. (OK, I went back to reading.) I am encouraged, by him, in my love for Jesus, and remember afresh His love for me and all mankind. Bono shares his faith without coming off as preachy, and he contrasts Karma with grace. Karma - you get what you dish out. Grace - you get what you don't deserve: you get love and forgiveness from a savior named Jesus.

I read an article about a woman who went to Morocco for 2 months and painted 17 paintings. She lived in the desert and other places. Her work is abstract and creative. Really nice colors. I go back to work on my dye vats of Fes, and I wonder if I should be an abstract painter. My drawing of the men looks so real, but are they telling the viewer how dangerous those vats really are to the health of the men? I'll lay in some color today and see how it goes.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Moroccan Art Continues - Dye Vats Oil Painting

I have returned from a fantastic trip to dear people, new friends in Nicaragua. I will share with friends about that trip at some point, probably more privately. I would like to continue with completing two more paintings from my experiences in Morocco in the next few days. Then, I will close out this blog. Here is a start on an oil I hope to do this week - the dye vats of Fes. I will need to fiddle with the vats sizes/perspective as I am combining several images and memories into one painting. I like the three guys, however. I want to highlight that men were working in the dye vats and it is a nasty place to work. And, I woke up enough to realize I had spelled dye incorrectly!

It is certainly interesting to watch what is happening currently in North Africa. There is much political unrest. The reasons are multi-faceted, but certainly the aspect of a large, poor, unemployed population in that region must be one variable in the unrest. I am thankful for the opportunity I had to live there during a period of relative calm. The people there, the bakery boys, the beggars, the children and my former neighbors are very special people to me.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Heading to Nicaragua

I'm away from my Moroccan art world for two weeks. I am heading to Nicaragua to make art with children and share the love of Jesus. See you all upon my return. Adios Amigos:-)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mail Must Get Through!

A lovely, kind friend from the Seattle area sent me an art/care package to Morocco. (I am not there anymore, but, no matter, the adventure continues.) The package of treasures was snagged at the Casablanca post office for weeks. The postmaster wanted me to give them $100 for the box. And my passport. The short story is that the box of art supplies were eventually sent back to my friend in Seattle. It arrived 3 days ago. That is 4 and 1/2 months after she sent it. (Later, I found out my friend had even sent $100 dollars for me to get the package out of the post office!)

So, at this point, I have, an amazing friend, and the box of supplies for my next trip that is just around the corner. I thought you might like to see the box, as all boxes I received were all opened and re-taped in Morocco. So, here are some photos of the box and its wonderful contents. The supplies and power bars will be used with children in another location, but I marvel today that the mail must get through, and God does not waste anything!

Post Script: My friend here at the lake house noted that one baggie of Sharpies had only 3 Sharpies in it. The baggie was also slit! Well, we concluded that, most likely, a few black Sharpies are now being used at the Casablanca post office or its environs. I guess they had to take a cut for their labors. :-) I decided to pray for anyone in Morocco who has one of those Sharpies. To be continued.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Moroccan Pre-Schooler

My friend, Judy, sent me a quote that made me smile as I was getting up from my " you are an artist and can go take a nap if you want to" reverie. Here is the quote, along with a more finished painting of my little pre-schooler, artist in Morocco.  "Some Christians try to go to heaven alone, in solitude. But believers are not compared to bears or lions or other animals that wander alone. Those who belong to Christ are sheep in this respect, that they love to get together. Sheep go in flocks, and so do God's people."–C H Spurgeon. I am very, very thankful , for all my fellow travelers, fellow sheep,  here and spread out all over the world. Friends from Morocco sent me a photo today. In it, one of them was holding a freshly framed piece of my artwork. Just about to be hung up.  They wanted to bless and encourage me from over there. Yep, fellow sheep all over the place.

Lights and Darks - Argon Oil Widow

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


"Chiaroscuro" (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊər/Italian: [kjarosˈkuːro] "light-dark") in art is characterized by strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition. It is also a technical term used by artists and art historians for using contrasts of light to achieve a sense of volume in modeling three-dimensional objects such as the human body.

I am adding some chiaroscuro today in some of my nearly completed paintings from my life in Morocco. Now, it is time to catch a nice walk around the lake area before the sun slips away for another night.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Moroccan Spices

Today's watercolor of the spice mounds.
I have been looking at photos of the mounds of spices that I often saw sold, in bulk, mountain-like, at the medinas and grocery stores. My friend, Marge, says they are good pictures for collage ideas. (If only I could collage as beautifully as she does.) I'll think today about a more abstract painting or collage idea and post what I come up with later on today.

This is from Jill's photos.
I have a slower-paced day, I hope, since my headache lingers.  Today is another meeting day at  church for the Nicaragua trip as well. I am praying God will direct us as we prepare to go to the school and churches down there. Can't wait to see the sunshine and colors!

Spices in Labelle Vie in Casablanca

Spices we saw in Fes.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Rest Continued

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Friday, February 4, 2011


I feel I have been going too fast in life, barreling through the last six weeks towards God knows what. Some people might think I should have secured a job a few weeks ago. A friend today gave me permission to rest and slow down. Just rest. Morocco was quite the experience, so take some time to recover from it. I feel my boat of life has slowed even since our conversation.

I decided to pull out a watercolor I started last year to paint about how I am feeling. I sense I will be going out again, so the area of water is open. I have lots of passion for art and Jesus, so the boat is red. I know God will guide me, thus an illusion to the three crosses. However, the boat is resting in the grass and in quieter waters. So, I rest. (The painting is not quite finished...I took a break.)

I am going to try to have some fun now....hmmmm...... off to the church Luau!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The never-ending Medina

The medinas I wandered through in Morocco seemed never-ending, especially the one in Fes. (It supposedly has 17 miles of stalls and alleyways.) However, I am thinking about my way-too-enormous-for-a-watercolor painting of the medina in Casablanca. Have I bitten off more paint than I can brush?

Template-making for background for little boy.
Also, I have been swept up into sales and marketing for the Nicaragua trip, so my focus has been hither and yon, post offices, bulk bubble-wrap filled envelope purchasing, and re-ordering of prints at Chromaworks in Seattle. I think tomorrow looks like a solid painting day....except for the Moroccan meal I hope to bless my hosts with for supper. 

I am not known for Moroccan cuisine, but hopefully I won't kill the couscous with too much cumin. I found fresh mint in the Pike's Place Market today, as well as gunpowder green tea. Now, I only need three huge, rectangular prism shaped sugar "cubes" to brew my pot of Moroccan tea.  It will be three cups of tea around here tomorrow! I think I'll even pull out the mugs from Fes. I've been driving around with them in  the back seat. (Clink, clank, clunk.)

Here is what I painted in the lower half of the medina painting.

Remembering The Atlas Mountains

Now I remember. Just for fun, we took pictures of camels as we traveled up to the higher regions of the Atlas Mountains. It was fun to find this photograph, lost from my recent memory. The warmth of the sun came to mind first. Then, the remembrance of the many flies on the camel. That's why I am backing away a bit. 

It really wasn't long ago, but life gets busy here in the USA, and time, so full of activities, seems to fly by. Hopefully, I'll do some painting and sketching as I create today and remember interesting, beautiful and unusual Morocco. Wouldn't that sunshine be nice right about now?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Medina Continues

It was another day of an unemployed person trying to get healthcare and mailing prints of artwork to wonderful, supportive friends. Mailing stuff is slowly becoming a full time job! Now, if I could get healthcare from the post office.... 

I am thankful for all the art I did drag back home from Morocco. How could I know the work would generate interest and funds for a trip to Nicaragua? My life is certainly interesting with all its twists and turns! I was laughing with my host family at dinner tonight that in Morocco I had been living quite close to Timbuktu, south of Morocco. Yep, there really is a Timbuktu!

I also had two amazing Skype calls today. One was from two friends who have remained in Morocco. It brought waves over me of happy memories  to speak with them. I miss sharing life with them. I also had fun Skyping with a life long, dear friend, Alice, who is visiting the USA (children and grandchildren) but serves in South Korea. She looks just as beautiful as ever.  She is a present from God to me. How blessed I am to have lovely friends all over the US and world.

I did work for a bit on the ongoing Medina painting. It is slow going as different ideas and characters evolve in the painting. I have added a cat because cats wandered everywhere in Morocco. They were even in the gas station cafe! I think they were also around in other restaurants and all over the neighborhood. Most looked pitiful. Mine in the painting looks fairly healthy. I didn't have the heart to have most of his hair missing!  And, I don't know why the photos are turning out with such a yellow tone. I guess a daylight photo is in order soon. Stay tuned!