Friday, December 2, 2011


December.  Houston.  Cool, cold even.  The difficult summer forgotten.  We seem to dwell only in the present where we are ok, or not ok.  I find myself thinking forward when in uncomfortable moments: "in one hour, I will be home (or through, or out of the airplane, or done with the dentist, or off the freeway) and 'this' will be over".  I helps. 
I am now of the age where in my mind I can travel long distances through time.  Can even get a bit lost there in the loops and small passages.  Some to savor, some to spit out, and put in trunk, in the basement and slam the lid shut.
But, it seems, we must live in the present moment and make it count by being aware of it.  Tick tick.  It slips away.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

heaps of good food

I am here in Palo Alto, home of  Stanford who just ended their 11 game winning streak to Oregon...not that I usually know anything about football, but it was hard to ignore all the RV's and tail gating cars and trucks with people clad in either red and white or green and white.

No, I am attending my mother's Endgame...although she's no where near that, really.   I can no longer take her out to lunch or on long drives as there is too much discomfort for her in the car.  So I now bring her tasty morsels  to alleviate the boredom of bland assisted living food.  Heaped on her plate are:
figs; kiwi berries; blueberries; strawberries; sliced kiwi; sliced apple; a lady apple; stone wheat crackers; cheese polenta (if it's not turkey or chicken salad); fig cookies; and to drink, S. Pellegrino.  She loves it...the taste, and the vision of all that color.

And the color here in Palo Alto is weeks ahead of the trees are glorious.  And although it is quite nice here and my mother is doing well, I can't wait to get home again to He Who Snores, but I love him anyway.


Friday, November 11, 2011

standing proud

My, my, my.  What a lot of time we have to mull over what we post in haste.  I'm so over my out burst about the bumpy ride through my household relationship with the person who snores.  It was only a day or so before said fine person was willing and able to perform household duties and heroics.  He is, in fact, redeemed.

I don't regret my fuming, as it led to greater things.  We need to protest on occasion.  Be it on Wall Street, in Oakland, or at the local tax board.  We need to have our say and not get run over by bigger folks.   I think of the original tea party, the one that actually threw tea over the edge of the boat, and I think of the Vietnam war, and perhaps most poignantly, the protests for Civil Rights.  People, regular people, stood up and were counted, and change was made to happen.

Peace out, y'all.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

snoring irritating men

This has nothing to do with painting, except that it has been one of my subjects for the last 35 years. 

The painful subject is relationships.  Two adults living together and creeping up on each other's last nerve. I mean, come on, I almost never complain here.  But:

The toilet runs and has to be babied in order to work.

The sidewalk and walkway to the house have been uprooted by the oak tree and will cause someone to sue us for millions of dollars when they trip and die!

The house has not been painted for decades and the roof is surely due to fall in.

And the other person in this house SNORES LIKE A FREIGHT TRAIN.

I have painted some funny, some poignant, some soulful, some outrageous, some angry relationship paintings for years and years.  Now you know it's based in life.  Arggh.  And most of us live it.

Oh, yeah,  and Peace.

Monday, October 24, 2011

the quiet place

A little cooler now in Texas.  Had a chance to see some of the scorched land left by the wildfires here lately.  But ....although many sad and horrific things are on my television, alerts on facebook, in the newspaper, I choose not to paint from there right now.  I am painting from an interior place and hope that it communicates the quiet sadness, the quiet optimism, the joy of books and memories and those things that are from the personal two square feet that I inhabit.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

New wallpaper paintings and no damn Ipad.

What a difficult summer!  No rain here, too much there.  And there. Well, the calendar says it's pretty much over, reality says it isn't. 

But onward.  I now use the IPad for reading books and playing games.  Doing art on it turned out to be not my cuppa.  Too complicated.  I'm a simple soul and real paint on real surfaces works best for me. But now I have a fun companion to take on the plane on my monthly trips. 

The painting is going well in my weeks in between trips to California.  I removed some of the wallpaper from my mother in law's house to use as collage.  I've done this sort of thing before but not with 60 yr old wall paper that is crumbly and fragile.  I was so excited I stretched up five or six good size painting and slapped on the wallpaper willynilly.  Then with each piece I have to figure out how to make it work..  Fun. Ignorance sometimes makes the path easier.  Except in the case of the IPad.


Monday, July 18, 2011

learning to speak Ipad

Well, I went and did the unthinkable.  I bought an Ipad with the intent of joining the 21st century.  I get along great with my simple cell phone and my computer, but doing art work on the Ipad is going to take training wheels and a good deal of time.  As an artist, like many artists, especially old ones like me, tech stuff, I find VERY difficult.  Part of the problem, the biggest part, is that I'd rather not read instructions. I mean I don't even know how to work the coffee maker, as I usually only have coffee when someone is in town...then they have to make it.  The other part of the problem is that nothing is simple anymore.  Like the tv.  No more easy off and on.  No knobs.  Yeah, yeah, I know there haven't been knobs since like 1975, but even the remotes were simpler then. 

So, I'm learning....but at dowager snail speed.  Meantime, I'm working on some good sized paintings that incorporate my mother in law's wall paper.  Collage and paint.  That I understand.


Friday, July 8, 2011

to ipad or not.

It finally rained here.  Grateful us.  Only downside is the mosquitoes are back.  And I'm back working in the studio on drought banishing paintings.  Can't help but be influenced by what is happening around me. I'm considering buying an looks like fun and maybe could do sketches when I'm off to Calif every month.  But, it means getting my brain cells around more technology...can I get them out of retirement and into the moment?  It remains to be seen.  But I could also play movies on the plane and read a book that doesn't weigh 3 lbs.  Surely this is a good move.  Hummm, thinking about it....almost ready to do it. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

the morning after

It was one of those nights when the air conditioner was broken in the record heat wave in June.  When reading, nor listening to my MP3 nor watching tv would coerce me into sleep.  Sleeping felt like what I must do,  knowing the morning would bring the monthly trip to California.  But the mind is a child when there is a must do required.   Waking after pieces of sleep felt like I was all apart.  My molecules were spinning off in different directions and causing denial and confusion amongst the body parts.  Even the stomach had something to say.  The kindest remedy was to sit in the reading chair downstairs, doing nothing, musing delicately so as not to disturb the balance of molecules attempting to realign, and watching the sun begin to dance across the wood and textiles in the room as a new day began.

And now, contemplating toothpaste and shower, I know that my morning ahead,  in the sky, watching the earth roll by, I will sleep on the plane and all will be well.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

hot hot hot

Needless to say, it's hot.  We are in a record breaking drought in a place that is normally sub-tropical.  Scary thoughts seep into one's mind when thinking of tornadoes, floods, droughts and fire....all happening at the same time.
While doing the good and hopeful things like not running the water while doing the brushing of the teeth, and taking canvas bags to the grocery store and keeping the A/C as high as possible, I am making every attempt to remain optimistic and buoyant.  Getting to be an old fart has the benefit of having lived through a lot of the debris of life and knowing that we'll get through it.

Meanwhile, painting, reading, watching and listening and hoping for the best.

Peace.  And maybe a little rain?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

there is no place like home

Houston is heating up for the summer.  It happens fast, like someone opening the glory hole at a glass blower's.  One day it's a balmy 72 degrees and the next:  95 and sucking the air out of you.  Then we all say: Why do we live here???  I think the answer is habit.  We all visit places where the weather is fine, but then we come home and rationalize.  I count it on my fingers:

October through May....IF we are lucky....that is eight months of good weather, right? No snow, no ice.  Well once in a while.  And if I'm honest it's usually November through the first half of May for good weather.  And once in a while, Christmas is scorching.  And no place is perfect.  We do have the occasional hurricane. 

But we stay and we come back because of family and friends and habit.  This is where we dug in and got comfortable.  There is no place like home.  There is no place like home.  There is no place like home.

Peace and coolness.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Looking after mom.

Back in California visiting what my mother calls the "loony bin, you know the one that flew over the cuckoo's nest"  and she knows it well.  She resides there in the loony bin with Lewy Body Dementia....not regular dementia or Alzheimer's but the really loopy one complete with hallucinations and delusions.  Most of the people in her very assisted living abode have various forms of dementia and many have Alzheimer's. Most do not carry on conversations.  My mother like to talk. But not to them.  And worry about what people think ....but mostly about what they are thinking about her.  I believe this comes under the gray umbrella of paranoia.  She has been in this facility for the past 26 months.  And I visit 2000 miles one way and 2000 miles back once a month for a week or a little more.

I would like to think that I am a caring person....I guess I am....but honestly there is some guilt that drives the plane here every month.  And that need to "please your mother".  Much as we love our mothers, there is always that tone of voice, that can bring us to our knees.  In my case it's " GAaaailllll."  my name drawn out in long and judgemental syllables.  And she worries about me.  And that is so sweet, so how can I bitch and complain.  Well, for one thing she's not reading my blog, so that's how.

Peace Peace .....please, Peace.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Studio cleanup so I don't have to paint.

Moving things around in the studio is, according to mood:

1. Destructive.
2. Invigorating.
3. Hair Pulling.
4. Renewing.
5. Baffling.

I find I don't really need to buy new hanging apparatus as there are three under the table, several on the flat file, and many amongst the cockroach wings and legs in the corners.  I know....gross.

I find I have more supplies than I would have guessed....and most are not dried up
I find many artifacts of nature once or twice used in still life or intended for such, most are dried up.

I find brushes, long fossilized, that I could never throw away because they might be useful someday.

I also find objects that look like they belong to something.  I have to keep them in case I figure it out someday.

I finally shove most of it back into drawers and behind other things and go back to painting.  I was just procrastinating anyway.

Can you relate?    Peace.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Dog's Life

Here is a story about a dog. This dog, a big shiny black lab, romped up to my son the day after he graduated from University of Texas at Austin. My son was unsure about what he wanted to do, which direction he should follow. But the dog, who was homeless, knew exactly what his own role was. He hung out with this young graduate, gave him the doggy equivalent of wisdom, guidance and boundless love.

This was a noble dog, with a big wise head, and he won me over by sitting on my feet and sliding to the floor in a puddle of warm friendship the first time we met.

Big dogs aren't supposed to live to be fourteen years old, but this dog did. He saw my son through some hard times and into a good new life with his own family and his own new roots. And my son saw to it that this dog had an exceptionally good elderly dog life. And yesterday it came to a peaceful noble end.

So I want to say goodbye to Jake....the noble lovely dog...I will miss him too.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Houses and Trees

Getting back on the aircraft, back into back and forth.  Finished a painting.  Started several others, mostly still life pieces,  my favorite at the moment.  Maybe the stability of still life is stabilizing to me too.  In my back and forth.  In the sky.
This current painting that I'm posting is about a nature preserve I saw...many acres given to the community by a couple that had lived in a cabin there long ago.  Originally, there was open space around the houses are right up against the preserve.  Made me feel claustrophobic.  Houses pressing in on the trees.  So in my painting the trees are griped by orange ribbons, the crow has a house in his mouth and the orange houses are fielded across the background, taking over.
On that happy note....I fly away for a little while.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Spring frustration

Arrgh. I'm at that place where you work and work and paint and over paint and still something isn't right. Well, that's anything, I guess. The garden is a work in progress too. I'm slowly finding out which plants wickedly take over others, which are prissy and want too much attention and which are stars that will survive twenty degrees and ninety five degrees.....they get to stay.

I have finally figured out the background in a stubborn painting and now the cherished foreground is looking horrid. Push pull yin yang. So I've come in to be distracted by the computer. And we all know what a time suck that is. So soon I will forget about the painting until the answer will come like a bolt to me and I'll go fix it.

I went to a "function" last night. A quality socialite type thing where an artist's work hangs but truly, the artist should never be there. Unless they are the outgoing clever type that can talk talk talk and be quite delightful. I hovered around the edges of the large room, sipping champagne and eating incredibly tiny hors d'oeuvres, until I could make a break for it....out the door and into the freedom of the evening. Sigh. So good to be free and alone in the night, in the studio, in a book, and until I really want to be with people.

Peace, Y'all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Texas spring

With great heaps of worm wiggling dirt, digging, hefting, and back aching efforts, the glorious month of March has been happily squating here in my yard. So now, there are rudbeckias, pentas, purple cone flowers, society garlic, sage of every stripe, kangaroo paws, senna, st. john's wort, and many other odd little green things whose names were forgotten between the nursery and my house.....all here and thriving. I know that my friends in upper reaches are still bemoaning snow....but it is spring and nearly summer in the south east of Texas.

And the mosquitoes and fire ants are happy to remind an intripid gardener just who the real bosses of the backyard domain are. I am already waging war. Not that it helps. And certainly not with anything nature unfriendly....which of course is why they are all still here.

The studio is getting a bit too warm....but early mornings are still fine. I have a window a/c unit...which somehow needs to be removed and wrenched into working shape every year. So far this 82 degree spring it isn't working. Which would be ok if the do0r to the garden could be left open....but you see, I would then be breakfast for the winged assasins.


Monday, February 14, 2011

The other world...

Continuing my monthly trips from Texas to California to be with my mother and spend precious time sitting in the sun, telling family stories and breathing in the the air, sky, flowers, my arm around her tiny bent back to keep the iron of the bench from pressing on her. She was 92 last Friday. She lives in assisted living where there are many activities that she does not wish to participate in, continuing her private quiet way of life. She has a private room with as many plants as I can keep alive on my monthly visits. Happily, she is the type of elderly person who has become more blissful and lovely as she ages. She also has become physically very tiny, even gnome like, more fragile and less capable...people find her adorable.

But after two years of this....I am coming to some sort of breaking point. It is an endgame and I am so emotionally drained. Yesterday, I watched as a new resident, a man who looked like an ex-CEO who was used to making decisions, carry around a little pad of paper and repeatedly go to the phone and try to reach someone....he was confused with Alzheimer's or dementia or some such, but he was also terrified and caught in a nightmare. The man was carefully redirected by caretakers and treated kindly....but even they feel this pain. One of the caretakers said to me that maybe he comes from "big house, maybe born there, now little room...." and she patted her heart.

My mother was pretty much out of it when she came here and remembers little of adapting to a new way of life. But I see it all and I remember it all. I am very taken with the residents here, who are not exactly of this world...the one out here with speeding cars and speeding Internet and quick game plans and talk. They are of some in between world. Most of them seem quite happy within the restrictions of a now limited life. There are people here who were doctors and teachers, artists and... some CEOs......they were vital in their day...and now they are remaindered I guess. And for the families who visit least for me....walking in and out is walking in and out of different worlds.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cold studio, cold dog.

It's so cold for people up north I'm a crumb for complaining...but it was cold in my studio today.
When Ollie the dog came to me at the easel for a pat on the head and I felt his skull shivering, I figured it was time for us both to head to the house. It's been going so well out there for me I didn't really notice til he told me.

Have to say, all that noise I was making about switching from oil to acrylic is now in the past. It's finally working really well. I'm back to working the way I like doing the sizes I like and zipping along. I'm in the middle of a sort of "not Alice" Alice and rabbit painting, with them in a kind of strategy meeting with Crow looking on as witness. I figure they're out to dethrone the red queen.

The last time I did a series of animal headed people was in the early 80''s fun to be back in that fantasy.

Hope everyone is keeping chocolate or English breakfast tea with milk is the ticket.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Calif January

I'm in California for my usual one week a month, visiting with my 92 year old mother. I see to her needs, the needs of the house, the garden, the car, and the connection of my 21st century splintered self to her wise and funny soul. It's a pretty good trade off. When I can slow down and really listen....there is still much to learn.

Wet and chilly I walk around the garden where the moss is green on the Japanese lantern, and the empty trees rattle. There is a redwood tree nook, where one tree planted fifty years ago has sprung a family. The ground is springy and soft there and it is very quiet. Christmas cactus is blooming exceedingly well and all the perennially green things are vigorously so.

I've just heard from a painter in the Netherlands, Fons Bloemen, whose work I like very much and who has a wonderful list of links to figurative painters. Not always something so easy to come by.
At least here in the U.S. big cities where more conceptual art or abstract art is paid more attention. I'm adding his website to my list of sure to check him out.

swamp, 55" x 29"

in progress

flying fish, 55" x 29"

eye with a view

free counters


Follow by Email

Popular Posts

more stuff:



About Me

My photo
I am living and painting in the little town of Houston. A far way from my San Francisco beginnings. I paint what I see of the human condition, be it human, animal or object. The glimmer of humor, pathos, and spirit in so much of what I see is the basis of what I paint.


All content here is under copyright: Gail Siptak. Please ask for permission if you wish to use them. Thanks.

Total Pageviews