Monday, July 22, 2013

On My Nightstand

Summer is the time when I usually load up on novels and spend as much time outside, reading, as possible.  This summer seems to be unusually busy, but I've been been able to squeeze in time for a couple of great books so far. In both, the main characters are artists, but that's where the similarity ends.

The first book, The Art Forger, by B.A. Shapiro is sort of a mystery based on a real event.  On March 18, 1990 two men dressed as police officers bound and gagged two security guards at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston and stole 13 works of art that today would be worth more than $500 million dollars.  The people responsible for this crime have not yet been caught and the art has never been recovered.  But what if...

Shapiro carves out a possibility for this scenario.  What if a gallery owner and a fine artist work together to pull this off, but one of them has no idea of what they're involved in?  I'm not going to spoil the story for you, but I will tell you that this is a really, really good book!  I didn't want it to end.  I felt as if I was curled up on a couch in the artists' studio and witnessing the whole thing first hand.  It's THAT good!

The next book has been sitting on my shelf for awhile.  It was recommended in one of my art groups at least a year ago.  I grabbed it yesterday and started reading, and reading, and reading!  I can't put it down!

Broken Colors, by Michele Zacheim chronicles the life and career of Sophie Marks, an artist born in England in the 1920's.  It marks her heartbreaking struggle to survive during World War II and the after-effects of a life torn apart by war.  This is no fluffy English romance novel; it's a gritty and emotionally charged account of a fiercely independent and very stubborn woman who survives trauma only through her passion for art.  Zacheim's writing is strong and her voice is unique.  I'm completely absorbed and will probably be up all night reading.  I can't wait to see what happens next!

What are YOU reading?  I'd love to hear!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary, How Does Your Garden Grow?

When we were thinking about purchasing a home last year, our original plan was to buy a piece of land in the country (but near the city limits -- entirely possible here), build a house, grow our own food and raise small farm animals.  Unfortunately financing got tricky and the cost of our dream made it out of our reach.  We "settled" for a small home in a small neighborhood just outside of town.  Undaunted by the scant 1/4 of land that we now reside on, my husband is determined to be as self-sufficient as possible in the suburbs.  In early spring, before the snow was totally gone, he started building garden beds.  He started seeds (heirloom) and placed them in our newly purchased portable greenhouses.  As soon as threat of frost was over, everything was carefully planted.

Now we have a thriving garden.  Squash, zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and a plethora of herbs are all sprouting and thriving.  We are even able to supply some of our neighbors with food.  Bliss.

This man I love is determined to be an organic farmer.  This first crop in our tiny yard has won me over.  I dream of the day we can buy some land, build a home, raise chickens for eggs and goats for milk and cheese.  We want to produce our own electricity and heat (Roch has a friend who is selling us his un-installed woodstove this summer), and live a simple and abundant life.

We will do this one garden at a time.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Goddess Makes Her Debut

After weeks of working on this painting in Flora Bowley's class, The Goddess has emerged.  I had so much fun using Flora's painting techniques, and I have to admit that I'm pretty amazed at how she turned out.  I've never done a painting quite like this before.  She's very bright, very bold, and really makes a statement.  What was really cool was that she actually emerged from the painting.  Flora taught us background techniques but urged us to make the end product our own.  I painted for 4 weeks without having any idea of where this was going, but on the fifth week The Goddess called to me from the colorfully chaotic background.  I had no choice but to bring her out.  Pretty cool stuff.  She now holds a place of honor in my living room.