Friday, November 30, 2012

Cupcake and Party Hat 13/30

Cupcake and Party Hat, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Witherspoon didn't like to go to family parties, but he felt obligated to attend his niece's christening. She was pretty cute, and at 7 inches long, hers was the biggest egg ever incubated in O'ville. The newspaper was covering it. His sister deserved a party, after all she sat on the nest all day for six weeks. And their Mama Hen kept reminding him that his arrogant brother-in-law warmed the nest all night, so Witherspoon ought to give him some credit. Witherspoon reserved judgment for the moment on Roger, and he kept this thought to himself, too: it would be a cold day on the veldt before HE sat on a nest!
Sure enough, obnoxious Aunt Poppy sprang out from behind every bush to take "candid" photos with her phone. Everyone tolerated her because she made the best cupcakes, but then she spent all night posting her mug shots on Facebook. By Monday morning, Witherspoon's friends had found his dorky photo, and it went viral at Byrd High. Someone even found a way to print a Wanted Poster of him in the library: Would you vote for this guy for Prom King?

Yes, Witherspoon viewed family as a very mixed bag of blessings--on the one hand, cake, and on the other, social death.

** ** ** ** ** ** **
Don't forget that Witherspoon, Millie and seventeen of their friends are still available for purchase in the McGuire-Woods Gallery in Building 16 at The Workhouse in Lorton, VA. I happen to know they take credit cards over the phone! I have other work in the Vulcan Gallery on the first floor of the same building. If you live in the area and haven't visited the vast art complex there, do it. Get involved there. Classes, date nights, art openings, a gift shop, all kinds of fee events, plus reasonably priced ticketed ones, like plays and comedy shows are all available to make life more fun (and shopping a whole other experience!) It is also a great space for parties and events. Check it out, you'll be amazed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Coffee Break 12/30

Coffee Break, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Millie floated down from her favorite tree, holding a freshly brewed cup of coffee between her wing tips. She didn't have to go far--just being out of the office for a few minutes morning and afternoon broke up the day, along with lunch of course, when she usually flew to a nearby spot for a few grubs over mixed greens.

But, her favorite part of the day (and the reason she put in her eight hours of tweeting and singing for her supper and being early to get the worm) was when she returned to her other life. The night time one she hadn't told anyone about--secretly, she painted.

As she sat over her coffee, the images flew through her mind like geese at fall migration. She could hardly keep up with them. They came in groups, sometimes fully drawn as if she'd already applied the last brush stroke. Sometimes just a flicker of an idea popped in and then melted away, sunset behind mountains. Millie never worried that those ideas were lost forever because she didn't have paper and pencil with her, or her sketchbook. She knew they were hiding down there in the dark of her workaday world. She would see them again in her tiny studio when the smell of the paints and brilliance of the mixed colors shone light into those dusty corners and incubated inventions moved out of the shadows and onto her canvas.

Leaves rustled and twigs lightly snapped as the office slowly came back to life over Millie's head. She sipped the last of her coffee and bid a temporary farewell to the pictures in her head. Smiling and refreshed, she squared her shoulders and flitted back onto her perch. After clearing her throat, she opened her beak and began singing again. The sparrows, jays and cardinals stopped to stare at her. Millie warbled a complex aria unlike any they'd heard from her before.
The mockingbirds wondered what was in her coffee.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Catching a Fish Spoiled John's Whole Day 11/30

Catching a Fish Spoiled John's Whole Day
collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver
 John used the traditional fishing methods for birds of his ilk during his weekly feeding fishing expeditions. But on the weekends, he liked to take rod and reel and colorful flies he tied himself to sit on a rock in the river and cast and cast. It was a little like meditation. His wing flashed back and forth in a rhythmic, flicking motion which served to sooth his ruffled feathers and eased his worried mind. Yes, John was a worrier. Once he stopped worrying that the kids would get eaten by big fish or fresh water gars or turtles, then the big expenses would start. They all wanted the latest l-pads and fancy b-uggs. They weren't happy just to eat dragonflies and waterbugs and wear regular webs like he did when he was a boy. Today's -lings! If he didn't love them so much, it wouldn't be a big deal. But he hated to see them wearing used outfits from Featherwell's Two Times New. Mabel said he was too soft-hearted, and he supposed that was true.

But when he was fishing, Mabel's softly chiding voice faded away, and he forgot that all week long he was nibbled to death by ducks. He only saw the sparkling water and felt the warm sun on his shoulders. Unfortunately, and it was a big downside, sometimes he actually caught a fish. It ruined the rhythm, zapped the Zen and otherwise, spoiled his whole day.

Sometimes, like today, he quick pulled in his line when a fish jumped or struck at the water. Often, they felt like talking, so he listened and advised on the best places to go for sushi, that sort of thing. 
It was a two-edged sword, this making friends in the work place.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Busy 'Line 10/30

Busy 'Line, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Caroline couldn't remember when she'd stopped being Caroline and become 'Line. She hated having such a lazy name, just as if your mouth didn't wake up until you got to the end of it. What about a cute nickname like Caro or Carrie? She really wished everyone would just call her Caroline. Why not? Why did her parents name her Caroline if they weren't going to call her that?
But, she had discovered over the years that it was difficult to change your name. She had tried when she was little--a couple of times. Once, she asked everyone in her family to call her Liza, figuring if they called her Liza, then everyone else in town would follow suit. But her mother and father, brother and sister just laughed. Then, she thought she'd liked to be called by something beautiful like Opal or Pearl or Ruby, but no one went along with that, either.

Now, she dreamed about the day she turned eighteen. On that day, she was going to the courthouse to change her name, officially. And if she had to refer to herself by her own name for the rest of her life, she was going to make everybody call her by it!

As she clipped the laundry to the 'line, she pondered the problem, My new name has to be perfect because it will be mine forever, so who will I become? She had to think hard and fast; she only had two more years to get it right.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Bliss 9/30

Bliss, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

For some reason, when I was painting this one, I remembered visits when we were small to Mississippi. We used to go to Percy Quinn state park and other places to swim and camp with our cousins, my mother's brothers' kids. We were stair-stepped in age and always had a blast together. The time I remember in particular, we went swimming at a place called Cool Springs, I think. I was too small to jump off of the rope swing over the water, but I sure wanted to. The sheer joy in the whoops and hollers as the swingers let go still echo in my mind. I'm not sure I'd have the courage to do that today, but I like to think I would!

That's why Bliss. For summer, for cool, sweet spring water to sink into, for unbridled, simple joys of hot summer days. Bliss.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Birdman 8/30 and 4th Blogiversary

Birdman, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Theodore was Birdman; Birdman was Theodore. There was no separating the two. Now he hangs upside down from this tree, and it must be said, grace and attentiveness during flight is not in his skill set.

Enthusiasm, yes. Zooming wildly about rescuing chicks fallen from the cradling nest, yes. A heart as big as all outdoors when protecting the weak and the undefended, absolutely yes. Which, if you think about it, are all very fine qualities. And if, several times each week, Theodore wrapped himself around a tree limb and had to be rescued, well, it went along with being Theodore.

Looming tree limbs are a normal part of life when you fly. It takes lots of courage to yell for help when you're beak down, cape over your head, skinny legs hanging on for dear life. You are never more vulnerable than then. But that is what friends are for: to support your removal from that tree, straighten your cape, brush off the leaves and twigs which have gotten stuck in your feathers and say encouraging things so you can fly fearlessly again. 
Go, Theodore, go!

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

In other news, I cannot believe that I just blew by my fourth anniversary of starting this blog. I looked back at my first post about making tiny paintings on slate that had been removed from the roof of my church. Since then, I have painted enough slate in large and small pieces to roof a small building. I still find stacks of it in my garage and in my basement studio, and I took the last of the pins I made from it to Lorton this month for the gift shop there. So, there's a thread from past to present!
A creative life is essentially a solitary one. Most artists I know encounter deep pits of self-doubt and discouragement along with the heights of achieving something you never thought possible. If you stick it out, this roller coaster ride, the learning is incredible and such blessings emerge when you stop and look around. A blog is a historical document of your creative life, and sometimes even the personal one. It is proof that you stuck it out. It reminds you where you have been and how far you have come and that you CAN keep going because look what you have done so far. 

So, blog on, blogging friends. Thank you for coming with me. Thank you for taking me along on your journeys.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bettina on a High Wire 7/30

Bettina on a High Wire, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Ooo, her tights were sagging around her knees and ankles. "I hope no one can tell from the audience," Bettina thought, disgusted. Her best pair were in the wash, and she'd had to borrow these from the Soaring Smiths' youngest daughter. Shondra Smith was round where Bettina was lean and straight where Bettina was round, and truth be known, should have gotten rid of this pair already since it had a ladder that ran right up Bettina's back end. At least it had made it easier to accommodate Bettina's spectacular tail feathers.
Not only was Bettina the tiniest tight rope walker at the circus, but she was also the owner. Tonight she almost missed her performance, making sure all her employees greeted the guests properly and then double checking their math when the ticket booth closed for the night. 
Truvy the Bearded Turkey, who had been at the circus as long as Bettina, fussed at her friend nearly every night, "It's time for you to give up that high wire act. Pardon me for saying so, and you know I only have your best interests at heart, but you are getting long in the beak for that kind of work."

In her heart, Bettina knew Truvy spoke the truth. But Truvy never ventured out on the high wire, much less danced lightly along it way up in the air, feeling the spring of it under her weight, getting that regular infusion of adrenaline as she perspired in the spotlights. No, giving up all of that was not so easy. It had been her dream since chickhood. 
Retirement loomed like a bad case of avian flu in her future, but tonight, she was on. Tonight, she took a deep breath, forgot about her baggy stockings, ignored Truvy's admonitions and gave herself to the act. She twirled and balanced, spun and jumped, tiptoed and back flipped, and the audience cheered. Ah, there was the music of her life. And Bettina knew, she'd be back on the high wire again tomorrow night, heart light in baggy tights.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Bert on a High Wire 6/30

Bert on a High Wire, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Has this ever happened to you? You get out in the middle of something and then make the fatal mistake of looking down. That's exactly what happened to Bert.
He was doing fine, stepping to the music, enjoying the gasps as he danced on the wire. But there were more gasps and whispers than usual. He got curious. Not that he didn't think he deserved all the excited attention, but something just didn't feel right.
Maybe Alphonse who sold the peanuts and popcorn had fallen down the stairs again. Alphonse was one of his best friends, so he thought he'd better look and see. He stopped and peered over the ends of his toes. OMG! He'd done it again! He'd gone to buy the latest Jennifer Cruisie novel before the show, and he'd forgotten to change his shoes when got back. He was going to hear from the ringmaster for this.
At least they matched this time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Belinda on a High Wire 5/30

Belinda on a High Wire, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Today, Belinda is thankful for good insurance.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Don't forget, tomorrow night from 5-7, 30 x 30 opens at The Workhouse. There will be artists there all day demonstrating in their various media. It will be the place to go for a local, cozy Black Friday shopping experience and entertainment. Click on the link to read all about it. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beach Babe, 4/30

Beach Babe, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

"Oh, no, not another one," you say to yourself while you sit on your tricycle, or balance marooned on a scooter with sand-clotted wheels, or worse, stand flat-footed holding a lame beach ball. There she goes, riding elegantly by, another of those gorgeous creatures, the beach babe on bicycle. 
They barely sweat as they pedal lazily up and down the crowded shore, breeze blowing through feathers which never frizz in the humidity. The sun shines a little brighter on them and gulls and boys trip over themselves to buy her ice creams and lollipops to curry favor. Perhaps she will descend from her mobile throne and allow one to ride in her stead, and they may feel what it is like to be so blessed. But for now it is enough just being close to the queen of sand and surf, the goddess of the two-wheeler,  an empress in golden suit and orange tights.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Balloon 3/30

Balloon, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver

This is the first of five in a subtitled series (under the main series, What Birds Do When People Aren't Watching) "Ingredients for an Ostrich Birthday Party." I'll bet you never even thought about ostriches having birthdays. Shame on you! If you are ever invited to one, and invitations are as rare as hen's teeth--by all means, go. But be sure to take a present, and wear your best party hat.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Argh, Matey! 2/30

Argh!, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6, Elizabeth W. Seaver

Avast! Here is me second painting of thirty, which now joins Archibald and 28 "Mateys" on the wall in the McGuire Woods Gallery in W-16 at The Workhouse at Lorton, VA. Please go by and see them. Don't be afraid. All walkings of the plank have been suspended for the duration of the show.
But here is something to ponder...What would you do if you came back to your pile of clean laundry to find a filthy pirate in possession of it? Would you run away screaming? Would you don an eyepatch and fight along side him? Or would you engage the scurvy swab in a duel for your dresses, a swordfight for your socks, an ferocious undertaking for your underwear, or give him a pounding for your pants? Are you a man, woman or mouse? Leave your responses below in the comments section. 
(Truly, I won't judge you because yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum -- I'm already into the eggnog!  See you tomorrow with painting number 3.)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Birds Do When People Aren't Watching

 Archibald on a High Wire, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
by Elizabeth W. Seaver

What Birds Do When People Aren't Watching is the theme of my 30 x 30 installation in W-16 at The Workhouse in Lorton, VA. I and twelve others have accepted the challenge of painting 30 paintings in 30 days on 6 x 6 Masonite panels. I chose to do mine in collage with acrylic, leaving some of the paper under painting showing on each one. They sell for $95 each. I go to hang my work tomorrow.

The show opens on the Friday after Thanksgiving, November 23rd. I will be demonstrating 4:30-6, during the opening scheduled for 5-7 in McGuire-Woods gallery upstairs in the main building, W-16. (Note: I belong to the Workhouse Associates Gallery which shows monthly in the downstairs gallery in that same building, so there is even more of my work to see!)

In addition to the show opening, The Workhouse is hosting a big blowout November 26 all across the campus 9-7. You will find wonderful artworks in all media, and each building will have activities, food and fun for the whole family. Anyone in the NoVA area, please stop by.

I plan to blog for the next 30 days, publishing one of these new pieces each day for as long as they (or I) last! They will come to you in alphabetical order.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dancing Turnips

Turnips, acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24
Elizabeth W. Seaver

Maybe Disco Turnips is a better name...anyway, more in my purely vegetarian series. They join Rabbit's Delight II and Dahling You Look Radishing! No telling what might pop up from under ground next.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *
I am showing up at National Institutes of Health in Bethesda as part of a program which puts arts in health care facilities. My husband and I delivered ten paintings up there early this morning, and they will remain through the first week of January, 2013.

Lillian Fitzgerald and her sister, Gretchen, are responsible for the shows at NIH and for buying art to place in area hospitals in Virginia. They purchased a work of mine for Charlottesville's new Martha Jefferson Hospital in January, 2011. Gretchen and Lillian decided to place it in a pediatric area, which was the perfect setting.