I was so happy that one of my collectors for the DC commissions requested a painting of the Wreath of yellow roses John Ross Palmer laid on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. That wreath was so beautiful, and I was happy to immortalize it.
Painting it was definitely the highlight of my day. But I did a lot of other things I’m happy about. After a very long hiatus, I dug out my yoga mat from underneath paintings and other assorted objects in my trunk and went to Yoga for Creatives, a donation-based class at Sabine Street Studios that was designed especially for people like me. I also finally got a haircut. My bangs are no longer in my eyes! Then in the evening I went to a party in a modernly redesigned historic home of quite impressive proportions, filled with quite impressive art too. All of this, on a Tuesday! In my past life I’d be in Beaumont, and frankly, I’ve already forgotten what that feels like.
The weather was still nice today, so I walked around quite a bit. I’m trying to get back into shape, to erase the months of sitting in the car commuting from my body’s memory. It was a good day to do that today. Though in the evening it started raining and my stubborn little dog doesn’t want to go anywhere when it rains.
I worked on another one of the DC commissions. I love how in the picture my collector took, the sky looks almost red.
In the evening I sat in front of my computer and got ready to kill people. I’m almost done with the 1900 section of the Galveston ghost story. Well, at least with the first draft of it, because I know it’ll need a lot of revisions.
Today I made some progress on the Seaside, Florida commissions. I had a lot of fun painting this little beachside restaurant called the Shrimp Shack.
Also, the weather warmed up considerably, and it was all in all the perfect mellow Sunday. I tried to do all the good and healthy things: Did the stairs by Whole Foods, took myself out for a healthy brunch, shopped for fresh food sans all the plastic, walked 10,000 steps, wrote 1000 words, and I guess I might even end up going to bed early. I’m reading The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian and it’s quite captivating. It kind of makes me miss Dubai, and kind of not.
Today I had two events in a row: open studios at Sabine Street, then a really fun party in Montrose which I threw with my friend who makes jewelry. It was a long day, but a really fun one!
At Sabine Street I painted another DC commission, this one for a former student who is currently in law school. I picked quotes from Justice Brandeis to write on it, which I thought she’ll find funny, including “if only you would recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you,” and “sunshine is the best disinfectant.”
I also painted five little abstract pieces to bring to the party in Montrose. They turned out really colorful, as did the party itself. Overall it’s been a very fun day! And sometimes I just have to pinch myself when I realize I’m so lucky to get to do all these things.
Another one of the DC commissions. There were these big black geese we saw by the Washington Monument. They looked spectacular, especially in the snow.
It was still cold today, but I felt so much better about life. I did an online auction for one of the West Texas paintings, and it went really well. Meanwhile John delivered La Vie en Rose, the largest painting I ever made, to its new home, and hung it. I love that painting so much and am so happy to think that the collectors who bought it will get to see it each and every day. Also, let’s file this under reasons not to move to Malaga, or at least not yet. My paintings are here, hanging in people’s houses. It might be wise to stick around because my paintings are bound to attract more people. They’re like my own colorful PR team, working overtime on my behalf.
The peonies opened up today. They’re quite beautiful. I’m glad I got them.
Oh, and Lone Wolf, my new novel is free on Amazon for the next few days. If you download a copy, that would definitely make me happy, and if you leave a review, even more so!
While we were in DC, we visited the Newseum, and there we saw a piece of the Berlin Wall, bare on one side, showing some colorful graffiti on the other. I tried to channel these themes and images into a painting about dissent for my friend’s daughter. I’ve even included the image of Martin Luther King, whom I know she admires. The piece is called You Are Power and is very different from anything I’ve made so far.
It felt good to work on this, especially since I didn’t feel that powerful today. The weather got cold again, as if throwing an unexpected temper tantrum over lunch, and my mood sank along with the temperatures. Funny, how only yesterday, because it was so warm, my usual feelings of being lost and confused, my own personal lack of meaningful context, felt adventurous and freeing. I went to Little India for lunch and sat there spooning rice pudding sweet with cardamom into my mouth, reading memoirs of other people who don’t belong, and I felt moderately happy. Today I saw my inability to form lasting allegiances as a dangerous pattern. I felt isolated and confused and felt like it was pointless to even try as nothing has really worked out so far and my true talent lies in burning bridges not building them. Hopefully by tomorrow my sense of self will be restored and I will once again relish my independence, my freedom, my refusal of cliques, tribes, and other oppressive social structures.
Also, I bought peonies and it strikes me as weird that they bloom here this time of year. Then again, everything is weird, and peonies are nice, even though they make me feel nostalgic. I also bought two books – my ammunition against everything. And I contemplated again running away to Malaga. My friend is there on vacation right now. She said she doesn’t exactly feel blown away by it, but who knows? Maybe there’s something to it after all. Or maybe I just need to survive the two more days of cold coming our way and trust that afterwards spring will come, with bluebonnets and sandal weather, and lush pink blooms in the crepe myrtle outside my window.
Here’s another one of my Washington DC Commissions, this one for a collector who joined us on the trip. He wanted this particular view of the Washington Monument and the Capitol at night, and no quote written on the painting. I love how unique each of these are turning out to be! They’re all so exciting to work on, and each so very different.
Here’s another Washington DC commission, this one for a former student who is now a lawyer. I’m so proud of her! What she wanted for her painting was the Supreme Court building and a quote from Justice Brennan about defending the Constitution. I really enjoyed working on this, and ended up looking up more quotes from Justice Brennan.
On a different note, I drove down to the Island to deliver one of the West Texas watercolors to my friend who owns Tangerine, and I’m happy to report some early bloomer bluebonnet sightings. So yes, spring is almost here, and I couldn’t be more happy about it!
Another one of my Washington DC commissions, entitled Hope is the Highest Form of Courage. This one is for a former colleague, also a Binghamton graduate, who has helped me a lot as I was starting out in my academic career. I was meant to pick the monument depicted in it, and, left to my own devices, as a scholar of social movements, I picked The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and Dr. Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream Speech, set against the background of the Washington Monument. I tried, however, while paying homage to an event from 1963, to give the crowd a contemporary feel, in order to illustrate how the Civil Rights movement has continued and how it is the young generation, today, as it was in 1963, that will shape the future of social justice. The painting expresses faith in this young generation, the kind of faith educators such as my former colleague must have in order to teach with passion and enthusiasm.
Today John hosted a Super Bowl party. There was a lot of good food and there were lots of fun people too. I got to properly visit with the new Escapists and that was really cool. I even hung out with them in the Chrysalis while they were painting, and I had to do something creative too, so I stole some paper from John and did a quick drawing of Bobby. It occurred to me that we are very lucky, and that’s what I said to my friend Lindsay, who’s an Escapist this year. I mean, here we are at a fun party with good food and interesting people next door, and we would rather be working because we love our work so much. That’s being very lucky indeed.
Also, I ate a lot of fried chicken and this really good melted cheese and potato dish and roast corn quesadillas. I myself brought a salad. John said that was a rude thing to bring.