Friday, November 11, 2011

a friday soup

Background & disclaimer: I love making soup. For one thing, you can add just about anything and as long as it cooks awhile and there is proper seasoning, it usually comes out tasting delicious. I love making soups because they allow me to clean out the refrigerator and pantry; they are my go-to meal especially when I am trying to avoid the grocery store.

Fact: I hate grocery shopping. I hate figuring out what I will want to cook and eat 5 days from now; I hate making the shopping list and I hate the trek to, around and from the store. Grocery shopping is the stone I roll every week to 10 days. Actually, the experience is more akin to Prometheus's fate of having his liver eaten out day after day after day ...
So, I make a lot of soup.

My soups are usually well received but when I find myself reaching for the can of navy beans because, well, navy beans are all that's left in the larder, I suspect I may have a problem on my hands.
And getting to the point (you suspected I might wander back to a point) this post feels a bit like one of my soup meals. Tossing in bits of things I've been meaning to share and hoping it will all come together into a tasty offering. But ... there was that navy bean soup incident (with corn ... yup, pretty grizzly even for me) so consider yourself warned.

I realize I haven't shared this yet:

My painting from Pixie Campbell's workshop Back to the Wild at Squam. I cannot believe I haven't been bending your ears about the marvels of molding paste. Look at the texture! I loved the experience of making this piece - it was a very physical event. I slapped the paste down, shoved it around, pressed things into it. When it dried I sanded it, scratched and basically assaulted the surface with any handy sharp object. I mixed paste with the paint and build up new areas. I smudged paint in with my fingers, drew with my non dominant hand and basically experienced a lusty tango with this piece.

I find it fascinating and mildly disquieting that the horse here (drawn with my non dominant hand mind you) is very reminiscent of the many horses I drew when I was a girl. I can't help but think about that version of me enthralled with the essence of horse - power, strength, passion and independence and the person I am now returning once again to claim what I seemed to have abandoned out of fear or uncertainty.

One thing I love about this piece is how I grabbed a section of map off of the table of clippings only to discover it contained the section of the U.S. that included Nebraska and South Dakota. The issue of my identity with my adopted home has been a slippery one for me. Part of my process this Fall has been to embrace all aspects of who I am now: I no longer consider myself a transplanted Easterner - I am a Midwesterner.

I also have been thinking about the changes in my relationship with Cowgirl. As she matures and demands more independence, I have had to renegotiate my role as her mother. What seems to be required is a quality of strength or power coupled with gentleness and compassion. So horse seems evocative of the changes in both our worlds and speaks to what needs to be nurtured: Power with grace.

Cowgirl and I were invited to contribute a piece for a fundraiser benefiting a local art alliance. We had planned on painting penguins but somehow a dragon appeared:

Cowgirl has been making many dragon images over the past couple of weeks which I find fascinating as the coming year will be the year of the Dragon according to Chinese astrology. I've also been sitting with the energy of fire and the South in the Medicine wheel for SouLodge and I love the appropriateness of dragon, fire, creative action and the phrase I penciled in at the bottom: playing with fire.

That's how I'm feeling right now ... in a frisky, muzzle snorting way!

(I am only mildly freaking out about the possibility that no one will bid on our work. I understand many people won't be interested in mommy/daughter artwork and I feel torn between wanting it to sell and having it come back to us. Now I understand why I haven't felt compelled to try to make marketable art - my heart isn't strong enough yet!)

Okay, here's where I go reaching for the navy beans ...

Other developments include a new found passion for ... goats?

I discovered the art of Katherine Dunn and her amazing blog Apifera Farm. Her art work and photographs of her beloved farmyard friends (the inspiration for my drawings) have me bewitched. Okay, so my fantasy life is living on a small acreage with goats, a donkey, a horse, some chickens, barn cats and dogs. There would be space for me to have a real art studio, a tire swing for Cowgirl, and our animal family to inspire us all. And since it is a full fledged fantasy, we would be in Ireland or Scotland and okay, I would allow Ewan McGregor to be there as well.

So I am contemplating a profession as a animal portraitist.

I've also been decorating art journals (the simple brown Moleskine journals) as gifts.

Perhaps a dual profession? (Seriously, I am thinking about a small sideline offering of personalized journals ... looking into the details but do tell me - would you commission one?)

Well, it's back to my informal painting studio for now. No idyllic scenes of sheep or pigs, but there is a pink dragon in the making.

I think it augurs well for the changes being ushering in today ...

Dragon AND snake for Cowgirl. My guides are more bucolic.

(All my contour drawings/watercolors of goats, donkey and sheep were inspired by original photographs by Katherine Dunn as seen on her blog and flickr photostream. My works are not intended for sale but merely for my enjoyment and practice!)


  1. i'm going to write you a proper letter this weekend so i won't drivel on here....

    except i LOVE the farmyard animals!!

    also super-sonically dig the horse painting...of course i do! and i'm quite smitten with molding paste's a marvel, really.

    i would totally commission a Lis-made journal....

  2. What a delicious soup you served up here! I listened to Ricë's podacst with Katherine Dunn and decided I might also need to live on a farm with she has the fabulous pie event, and I'm a weeee tiny little bit obsessed with pie. but since I listen to podcasts in the car I always forget to go back and see the blogs and videos and pictures that get discussed. So after reading about your goat obsession, I clicked through to Katherine's site (awesome) and discovered that she wrote the cool book that I browsed through at the craft store and didn't buy because it wasn't in the budget, and didn't make a note of because I thought I'd remember (HA!) and then got mad at myself when I couldn't add it to my wishlist since I didn't know what it was called or who wrote it. So thanks for that. your horse painting is amazing - I want to see it and touch it and explore all that depth. loved reading your words about the process.

  3. Ah, have thoroughly enjoyed this tasty and nutritious cup o soup! Dragons and goats! Does it get any better than this?:) Love, love, love it all!!

  4. i too love your farmyard animal friends here, lis, (and your dream)! i have had a similar one since college...yet to be realized. wishing you well

  5. can make me soup any day! I love, love that wild and frisky and risky horse. How powerful that it's also an image from your childhood. I find myself wrapping back around in my own life, pulling out dreams from long ago and making them reality now. I wonder if the loves of our childhood never really go away--they just wait...and wait..for the right moment.

  6. Your horse is gorgeous! Makes me want to play with paste! And as a Capricorn I have a thing for goats and totally approve of more goat paintings! :) hahahaha

    And your soups sound fantastic! I might have to do some experiments. I invented something called "Leftover Pizza" a while back that sounds a little like your soups. I get a Boboli pizza shell, cheese, and sauce, and the topping ends up being whatever leftovers are in the fridge :) It makes for some interesting pizzas! I might get up my courage to try a "leftover soup" one of these days :) Fall and winter would be a great time for some experimentation.

    Have a lovely day! I love your new pieces!

  7. I love the horse! I used to draw them when I was a girl too. I was painting today and trying to remember who in the lodge mentioned the moulding paste.... I thought it might have been you and Hooray, it was you!
    Is there any particular kind that you and Pixie like? I was thinking I need to give it a try.

  8. Dear Lis-just what I needed right now-soup for the soul:) I just LOVE your horse...simply stunning. Very powerful and beautifully done...I can see the grace. So...Cowgirl is into painting Dragons right now? She may be a bit young right now...but have you introduced her to Amy Tan? I just finished reading her memoirs ("the Opposite of Fate") and it is fascinating.
    Oh!!...I hope your fantasy (especially the Ewan McGregor part!!) comes true:)
    P.S. I hope Tara doesn't get any sassier than she is now...I can't handle it. I'm no spring chicken you know!!xxx