Field Trip

I really want to write all about what I did the other night. But the first rule of Television and Movie Extra Club is,

“You can’t talk about what you did in
Television and Movie Extra Club.”

So instead, I took my new movie star friend (who shall remain nameless) and went on my very favorite field trip.

The art museum. After lunch. When the school buses are gone.

The Bug & The High

The current special exhibition at The High Museum of Atlanta is…

Frida and Diego!

I’ll go ahead and be completely honest about this one. A month ago all I really knew about Frida Kahlo was that…
1) She was from Mexico, and
2) She sported a rather impressive unibrow.

(That second point alone was enough for me to admire her and also to remind me of my own vanity – I own 4 pairs of tweezers and try to keep them in places of high convenience)

So when I heard about the new exhibit
I threw myself into heavy research.

In other words, I read her Wikipedia entry and watched the movie, Frida, with Salma Hayek. I thought that the movie was really fantastic and that I was prepared to “get something out of” the exhibit at The High.

I’m so glad I had the background, because the story was so alive when I saw Frida and Diego Rivera’s work in person.

Lean in

From what I’ve seen, there are a few different types of art viewers. I’m not going to try and classify them all but I know where I fit in. I’m a leaner. When I see a piece that speaks to me with its form, mood, and color (mostly color), I leeeeeean into it. It’s easier to feel what the painter was feeling when I can see the brushstrokes and the density of the paint.

I think that’s where the soul of the piece is. In the paint.

One of my very favorite artists, Henri Matisse, has a magnificent use of color, but he also speaks volumes through his visible charcoal and pencil drawings underneath. You gotta lean in to see that sort of stuff, folks. Gather mood from the middle of the gallery but get your eyes all up on the surface to find the heart.

The Frida exhibit had so much heart. Her works made a hollow place in my belly that tried to consume all the life force around it. Like you’re hungry and crampy and about to cry all at once.

(I was ready for that since I get choked up every time I walk into the museum anyway)

Diego’s work was truly beautiful. I loved the transition from realism to cubism and then to his large canvases and murals of (and for) “the people”.

But the heart was in Frida’s. Not only from the center of the gallery with shapes, forms, and color, but also up close in the patient brushstrokes of tiny strands of hair. Even her signature was markedly different from one piece to the next.

Frida’s life was being held together. Not only by metal braces and heavy plaster casts, but also by delicate ribbons and string.

Maybe it’s because I have felt just a very small portion of her life’s pain before. I’m sure we all have had some measure of it. Her art taps into that pain, and in doing so it also shows life’s beauty in strong relief.

If you live near Atlanta you should try to come see the exhibit before it’s gone. Or hope it comes to your fine city.

The Dean’s List

hidden talents

Once upon a time I entered college with a major in Fashion Design.

Now here was a profession that called to my strengths:

Drawing? (as long as my ladies remained face-less, this was a check)
Taste? (I may not have been deemed high-class, but I knew what I liked, check)
Draping? (SO much fun. This was like sculpting, but simpler, check
Pattern making? (geometry always was my best math, check)
Sewing? (that was all right, as long as my machine let me beat it
into submission, check)

I totally made the Dean’s list in Fashion School. I kept that letter on my fridge for months! There was just one problem…

I never really made it through my second quarter.

Utter and complete FAIL.

What on earth was wrong with me? I found something I could do. Maybe, possibly I could have found a way to make some money doing it. Okay. A slim possibility. Why didn’t I keep doing it? I could have at least tried for long enough to fail.

Answering that would take a lot more thought and introspection than I’m willing to give right now. 

I had an awesome sewing machine. One of those industrial numbers that we were learning on in school (this was a very kind gift from my parents – a “Lord, I pray she’ll stick with this ridiculous notion” kind of gift). Since a great many years had passed with me using it a very few number of times (a monkey costume for our first daughter and some aprons), I sold the machine. In it’s place (you know, just in case) I purchased a fairly plain home machine with a wooden table/case from a friend.

I still haven’t used it. In fact, it’s just gathering dust on the sun porch that never became an art studio.

I think it’s time to change that.

You see. My Mama was a hard-time-cotton-mill-girl (another story, another time). And she can sew. She made the dress that she both graduated in and got married in. She can sew very well. She made every costume that I wore as a child. She makes costumes and dresses for her grandchildren. She makes baby blankets for every child born in our church. Fantastic oversized flannel blankets with coordinating binding – great for swaddling all the way to nap time in kindergarten and blanket forts.

In short: I want to be more like my Mama. And I need to figure out this sewing machine. And I want the Dean’s List episode to have some sort of positive, lasting effect on the rest of my life, and my children’s lives.
And suddenly it occurs to me…

What good is a talent that is kept hidden?

And does it really matter if it is hidden by dust, unsold yard sale items, or just an unwillingness or fear to use it?
Or, even, a fear of using it and doing a rotten job?

My Mama knows what she’s good at, and she shares her strengths to benefit others and glorify God. My gifts hide in closets and sun porches. 

Have you been hiding any of your gifts?


Disrobed Sangria

(recipe at the bottom – I recommend eating the oranges. And the pears. And the apples.)

Before there was my first Bikram Yoga class…gesture1

There was my first Figure Drawing class.

sketch2At the age of 34 (and a married woman), I was preparing for my first class in drawing the live, nude, human form. For the most part, I had avoided drawing or painting people up until then. They were difficult. Leave it to the masters and the portrait artists.

But I also had the bug. The “what will I try to do next?” bug.

sketch1I was nervous. Really nervous. But I had The Man’s blessing and a desire to paint the contours of the human body like my artistic heroes: Matisse and Cassatt.


I did what any normal first-timer would do.

I got myself drunk.sketch3

Well, not drunk. But I was tipsy. I went with the family to our favorite little Mexican restaurant and lubricated myself with Sangria. And then I was dropped at class.paint1


I was ridiculously nervous. I was sweaty. I shook. I couldn’t get comfortable in the unmoving plastic chair I was sitting in. The table was so flat and so far away. I hadn’t touched charcoal in ages. I was concerned for the model, too (though I know not why).

The moment she dropped her robe, I dropped my eyes. I waited to look up until I was sure she was finished moving.


She didn’t seem to mind us looking at her. No big deal. Like she visited small town art centers all the time to let housewives and men (!) look at her.

After a few gesture drawings and quick poses, my fear was gone.

gesture3The model was kind. She understood our fears. She spoke to us like we were having tea. Not like she was on stage in a dim room with spotlights blazing on her skin, surrounded by a tiny class of nervous adults. She was brave and she was beautiful. She walked around the room (robed) and complemented our work, even if our foreshortening was off, or her bosom looked like a pair of smooshed papayas.gesture3

paint3I am now in my 3rd season of Figure Drawing class. I love it. After this first experience I wasn’t nervous at all. Until the night the male model visited us.

Sangria, anyone?

Disrobed Sangria

Disrobed Sangria
A tasty sangria for any time, but great for fresh cold-season fruit. Not too sweet, but just sweet enough.
Write a review
  1. bottle red wine (I chose a Malbec)
  2. 2 oz brandy
  3. 2 T sugar
  4. 1.5 oz pomegranate juice
  5. 1 navel orange, sliced (ends discarded)
  6. 1 pear, cored and chopped (and peeled if bruised or spotted)
  7. 1 green apple, cored and sliced
  8. 2 c club soda
  1. Combine first 7 ingredients in a pitcher. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 24 hours (at least 5). Add club soda before serving.
  1. I recommend organic fruit, since the peels are staying on.
  2. You can double this recipe. Or triple it, if you plan on sharing. ;)
Queen Of None