Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Soup for the soul.

And it's good for colds and flu, too.

I'm an artist, not a chef.  But, I do love cooking and find it creative, calming and fulfilling.  It's good for the body and mind especially this week with a cold/flu going through the house.  Nothing soothes a stuffy head better than soup.  This week, I came up with two new ones that I thought I'd share.   The big bonus: both soups are quick and easy using a combination of fresh ingredients, leftovers from other dinners and store bought helpers.
Creamy Alfredo Pesto Chicken Soup
1 jar Trader Joe's Alfredo Sauce
1 box Trader Joe's Organic Chicken Broth
2 cups dry Orecchiette pasta
1 cup chopped cooked carrots
1-2 cups chopped cooked chicken 
1/4 cup homemade pesto sauce
2-3 cloves garlic chopped 
2 Tbsp olive oil
Cook and drain the pasta.  Heat the olive oil in cast iron soup pot and saute garlic 2-3 minutes.  Add Alfredo Sauce, chicken broth, pesto and stir until blended.  Add carrots, chicken, pasta and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve.
Pot Roast Soup 
2-3 cups left over pot roast, carrots and potatoes or beef stew
1 box Trader Joe's beef broth
2-3 cloves garlic chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
Optional additions - barley, corn, peas
Saute garlic in olive oil in soup pot.  Add broth.  Add left over pot roast or stew ingredients.  
Simmer on medium heat for 30 minutes.  Serve.
I was surprised how well both of these soups cleared my stuffed up head.  But best of all, they made me feel warm and cozy.  That's healing for body, mind and soul.

Monday, February 17, 2014

As The Wheel Turns: Over Flow.

Six weeks ago, my studio shelves were overflowing with unfinished work. I was having a hard time getting into the flow.  Finished work needed to be finished.  New work needed to start.  

Starting with endings is never my favorite thing to do, but I know myself.  I know I need to finish to feel a sense of completion before I can start anything new.  Plus, my studio shelves were so full of unfinished work, there was no room for new work.  

I loaded the kiln and prayed because I never know if the work will come out as I hope or if all my hard work will be lost to cracks, bloat or a bad glaze.  I was blessed by the kiln goddess.  Almost everything came out looking good.  I didn't have to smash or trash anything this time.  Only 6 pieces out of over 30 had problems and luckily, most of them were fixable.  Shelves filled on one side and emptied on the other.  

Then, came the excitement of creating new work.  Followed quickly by the pressure of perfection that can overwhelmed me and, of course, stop my flow.  My cure for this is to keep my head down and keep it simple.  Get on the wheel.  Throw one piece of clay.  Put it aside.  Throw another.  Rest and repeat.

Now, I stand here, amazed.  A dozen bowls, a few mugs, 4 new masks overflow the shelves all need underglazing, some need sgraffito work and all have to be bisque fired.  Add to that 3 masks that need final finishing.  A figurative sculpture,  a sculptural vase and bowl need color and glaze.  Add in 2 bowls that didn'nt fit in the last glaze load. 

My shelves are overflowing with unfinished work. Again.  

As I circled around my studio last month, wondering where to end and begin.  Struggling with fear of failure, I hated finishing my old work and worried about beginning the new. I thought I was stuck once again in my creative whirlpool.  

Now, I see it clearly.  The  creative river carried me once again, down and around from ebb to flow.  

Well, to over flowing. But that's ok, my creative river has high banks just for this kind of situation.  Because that's how the abundance of nature and creativity, well, flows.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A disconnected day.

The internet was not connected today.  I don't know why and all attempts to reboot the system failed.  Not a big deal, right?  A year or two ago, I'd agree but now I don't.  I'm frustrated.
If you ask me how much I'm on the internet, I'd say not much.  Maybe once a day. Today, I found out that would be a big lie.  Because I don't consider myself an internet junkie. I'm not online all the time.  As for being a social media maven, I'd say I'm not.  Guess what I found out today? I'm hooked to my wireless network like a patient needing an IV.  
I think I just crossed the line from frustration and inconvenience to fear.
Yup.  After 4 hours with no internet service, no way to check my email, google a question, read the news or listen to pandora, I felt scared.  I felt the same survival fear that happens when the power goes out during a big storm and i'm out of batteries for the flashlights. 
Then, I shook my head in disbelief.  Really! I am totally ok.  My animals didn't notice anything wrong, as I paced between my computer and the *&%%%% internet router.
What did I do?  

​Exactly what I had planned to do.  Take a bath.  Get dressed.  Put in a load of laundry.  Go to my studio.  Check if my bowls are ready for trimming.  They were not ready, so I re-covered them and took out another bag of clay for handbuilding.  Eat lunch.  Start and work on two new masks.  Let the dogs out and in.  Switch laundry loads.  Write this blog.  Feed the dogs and cat.  Make dinner.  Fold the laundry.  Relax for the evening.

​What didn't I do?

​Google moringa to find out what it is...because it was in my new shower gel.  Click to My Yahoo news.  Read the comics online.  Check my email again.  Like a few facebook posts.  Answer email.  Play online solitaire.  Play WordFeud.  Listen to Pandora.  Check the TV guide app to see what's on tonight that I don't want to watch.  Check the Accuweather app to see if it's going to snow.

​Did I really need the internet today?  No. 

​The shower gel worked well and smelled nice without googling it.  I heard the news this morning on the TV and later on the radio.  I didn't miss the comics, solitaire, WordFeud or Facebook.  I checked email this morning.  I put my Ipod in the dock and listened to my playlist.  I can turn on the TV to see what's on and all I have to do to find out if it was snowing is look out my window!

​I was disconnected today from the internet but I was still connected to all the things in my life that really mattered.  So no internet for the day is not the  end of the world,  but I did miss listening to Pandora.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Hold the Bacon and give me a Freud instead.

​The Francis Bacon triptych arrived at my local art museum with much fanfare.   What a big name piece!  See the triptych together for the first time in decades.   See a portrait of a portrait painter, LucianFreud!  The press blitz alone was something to see.

The painting?  Not so much.

I am not a big Francis Bacon fan.  I find his paintings melodramatic in tone with a focus on anger and frustration.  Yes, his screaming popes are intense and riveting especially with the fact that he was Irish Catholic and homosexual.  I understand he is a notable artist of our time.  That doesn't mean I have to love his art.

The work hanging in the museum is "Portrait of Lucian Freud".  I see some gorgeous color, expressive brushstrokes, tightly rendered framing, an unrecognizable figure with twisted limbs and a section of a bedframe.  Each of the three panels repeats the colors and elements from a slightly different angle.  The face is so distorted that without the title, it would be hard for anyone to know it was a portrait of Lucian Freud. 

The real and well known portrait painter here is, Lucian Freud.  I am a huge fan of his work.

The grandson of Sigmund Freud, Lucian is also a well known artist.  His portraits and nudes are wonderful explorations into the depth of colors in skintones and the character of the subject.  His layering of color and and the richness is lovely even if his subjects, usually, are not.  I feel a searching for understanding in his portraits evoking a mixture of sadness and love.  As an art student, I chose to do a pastel rendering of a section of one of his portraits, trying to learn how to layer all those colors into such deep, rich skin tones.

I'd much rather see a portrait by Lucian Freud than Francis Bacon's portrait of him.  If the museum put a Lucian Freud on view, that would be great news and worth the fanfare!