Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sand Painting Unveiled in Portland

My son Scott got his first apartment after several years of sharing living space with other people. He's pretty pumped and is taking great pride in decorating his one-bedroom apartment in NE Portland. When hubby and I went up to help Scott move last weekend, we took some pieces of art we had stored in our basement so he wouldn't have to endure the echo of bare walls; Scott told us to be sure and bring the sand painting I had done in July while at Sitka. Was I ever thrilled that he wanted to hang a piece of my art on his wall! Here is my first (and so far only) piece of sand painting - it doesn't even have a title!

Introducing Itty Bitties!

Itty Bitties are what I call the little 1.5 x 1.5 chipboard squares that I have been working on since early summer. I dug them out today because I had some unexpected time and wanted to work on “art,” but was feeling stymied and overwhelmed as to where to begin. My eyes landed on the tiles I had finished earlier and I decided to spend a few hours making more. I like my Itty Bitties because they are small, not very intimidating, and each little square is a finished piece of art. It is also a fun way to practice and experiment with new techniques in a safe little space. In order to have consistency, I use repetition in the basic procedure:

*Cover the chipboard square with paper; this can be a section of words from a book, a picture from a magazine, or just a bit of pretty paper.

*Cut out a head from a photocopied photograph (I make my copies at a place like Kinko’s so I’m getting copies made from a toner copier). I have been making my chips using black and white photos of relatives, again to give some repetition and continuity. Decide on a placement and glue the photo onto the paper.

*Add a word from the dictionary that represents the person, i.e., “uncle” or “sweet” or “daughter.” You get the idea.

*Paint the edges and back with coordinating acrylic paints.

*Embellish away with any and all sorts of cutouts, flower petals, whatever . . . this part is unlimited. I like to think about the person I am “working on” and add little bits that remind me of that person’s life. What a flood of memories I’ve had this afternoon as I cut, glued, and then added pieces to represent my grandparents and a great uncle.

I hadn’t planned to share the directions, but what the heck. If you need a small, safe project and want instant results, Itty Bitties are a great way to break through and create some miniature pieces of art.

Hey, why are you still reading this? Go get your scissors and get started!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Portland Bridge Walk

On Saturday, my hubby and I went on a fun little adventure in downtown Portland. At 8:30 am we arrived on the steps of the NW Natural Building at NW 2nd and Everett, where we were greeted by Sharon Wood Wortman, the author of The Portland Bridge Book. She has developed these really cool walks and talks in downtown Portland and this past Saturday was the last one of the year. Sharon is the coordinator and the guide, but she had two musicians (more on them later) AND Oregon's Poet Laureate, Lawson Inada, as part of our morning. It was much more than your traditional walking tour.

After early morning chilly introductions (thank heavens I had my gloves, hat, and scarf with me), we walked to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT - Region 1) and were directed inside to the main command center! We got to see their wall of multiple screens and complex computer stations, and we were given a demonstration on how the cameras that are mounted throughout the city function and how they can zoom in on buildings and cars, ala 1984, kinda creepy cool. We were then herded down the hall where two musicians, Stephen Cohen and Alan Ames, performed a snappy tune about the Portland bridges.

Oregon's Poet Laureate, Lawson Inada, was present and spoke about bridges and images and challenged us to keep our minds open and alert to new possibilities. Because he had what he called a "gimpy leg," he was not able to join us for our walk, but promised to meet us in the rose gardens outside Union Station later in the morning. Lawson is sure a warm, engaging man, and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Before departing, Sharon provided us with an overview of bridge styles and functions, and gave us a brief history of the Portland bridges. After bathroom stops, we were on our way. While waiting for the Max train to take us to our first destination, the Morrison Bridge, Sharon had us form circles to demonstrate and experience the physics of how bridges function; gravity and trust were at work in our little huddles! After a short jog on Max, we walked to the Morrison Bridge, where we were greeted by the bridge tender, Jan. Sharon guided us down the stairs to the guts of the bridge, where the electrical and computer components are located. She then took us farther beneath the bridge and directed us to stand behind a long yellow line. Once we were safely in place, she called upstairs to the bridge tender and asked if she could please open the bridge. We heard a loud bell ring above us, then the cars quit zooming overhead. Very soon a large concrete slab, the counterweight for opening the bridge, began to rise just feet in front of us. Exhilerating!

Once the bridge span was back in place, we climbed our way into the little glass bridge tender lookout, where Jan gave us a more detailed history of the Morrison Bridge. What a view of the Willamette River!

Because we were a pokey group, we didn't have time to take Max over the Steel Bridge to walk back on the foot path on the lower level (but Sharon told us we had to promise we would take this walk sometime in the future!). So we hopped on Max for our return trip to Union Station (and a walk on the Union Station foot bridge), where we were greeted by a waiting Lawson Inada. Lawson was excited to hear about our adventure and asked a few of us to share what we had witnessed or learned, then he read one of his poems. He encouraged everyone in the group to write a poem about a bridge and then gather sometime in the future to share what we had written; Sharon promised to coordinate this future event.
Sharon concluding by reading one of her poems, and for added impact (it related to the poem), she had Carlos Reyes, a poet who was on the walk, and his partner, Karen, ever so slightly barely touch lips (but I think they cheated and actually kissed!). A beautiful conclusion to a very lovely day in Portland.

However, hubby and I weren't quite ready to have our Portland time end. We made our way to the central downtown, ate sushi at the Dragonfish Restaurant, and hit the 2:10 matinee of Lars and the Real Girl, a quirky, touching, off-beat film. A perfect day in downtown Portland!

NOTE: I am still learning how to do this blog stuff and working with the photos has proved to be annoying and frustrating. In my first attempt to move the photos around (using the html function), I accidentally erased the majority of the text for this post! Aarrrrggghhhhh . . . I retyped and reposted the photos, although all of the photos appear at the top of the post. Okay, I'll learn. In case you are wondering about the photos, this is what you are seeing:

Photo of the Steel Bridge

Stephen and Alan on their guitars

Sharon Wood Wortman

Lawson Inada exorting us to go forth and be aware

Huddling and experiencing bridge suspension while waiting for Max

Inside the Morrison Bridge

View from the Morrison Bridge bridge tender station

Lawson reading outside Union Station (that's me in the green coat and black beret)

Carlos Reyes and Karen

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

A New Adventure

I have finally joined the blogging world. I upgraded my cell phone last month (I can now take photos, among other hi-tech things I don't know how to use), received an iPod for my birthday, and now this, a blog. I guess I'm going against the flow because it appears you CAN teach an old dog new tricks! However, I've spent the day trying to figure out what the hell I'm doing, alternating between being frustrated and feeling fancy and accomplished. But the real question is this: Why am I putting myself through the misery of learning yet another electronic language and protocol? I was pondering this as I was making myself a latte. Here's what I came up with:

1) There are several beautiful blogs out there that I read on a regular basis and I am so inspired and uplifted, not to mention the element of titilation of peeking into another person's personal life. Oh, that's right, I was writing about why I wanted to join the blog crowd. Well, I want to be an inspiration for others, to show that a 50-something woman can be a whirlwind of creativty . . . . and I just want to be the creator of a beautiful blog. At this point, I'll just settle for being the creative force behind a blog that is functional and readable.

2) My wish for this week is that my "art will flourish." Well, I'm hoping that with plans to post reguarly (self-imposed plan), it will be the catalyst to create - my audience is waiting!

3) I've always had an interest in writing. I'm a journaler and use the page on occasion to figure things out and at least record what I did yesterday and plan to do today, but with a blog, it will force me to the keyboard and give me the needed nudge to play with words and arrange them into some sort of pleasing order knowing that others will be reading what I have written. I want my words to be worthy.

So that is my motivation. Enjoy.