March 2, 2001: I can hardly believe it, but our new wildlife pond is running over! It is holding water very well and we are pleased with it so far. I know the animals and birds are glad to have it.
I am amazed how things work out in relation to my life journey as long as I am true to who I am and what I am supposed to be doing. I am talking about serendipitous happenings. A long time ago when I began writing, I just began without special training in writing and with only my experience of writing in my journals to help me. As an example, I wrote a little poem, my first one, years ago and sent it as a "thank you" to the publishers of a newsletter that had encouraged me as a woman by its contents, and they wrote back and asked to publish it. I was astounded! I was encouraged by that to begin writing poetry, not knowing what I was doing at all. I knew none of the rules and regulations, hows and whys of the craft. I just did it.
One day my phone rang and a neighbor asked me to take her aunt to lunch. She was in town for the neighbor's daughter's wedding and my neighbor had to go to a bridesmaids luncheon or something and did not want to leave her aunt alone. I did so, and in the course of the conversation we began to talk about poetry. I told her I was trying my hand at it and before the lunch ended, I learned that my guest was none other than Violette Newton, a former Poet Laureate of Texas! Mrs. Newton graciously asked me to send her some of my poetry and when I did, she offered to critique my work, which she did for many months, until I stopped writing for publication. Through Violette, I met another talented poet, this time from Louisiana, the late Alice Claudel. I attended a work shop she held. She like my work and over time published several of my poems in her poetry literary journal, New Laurel Review, including my work in one where I do not feel I belong, an issue devoted entirely to the work of Louisiana poets, a copy of which resided in such libraries as the Louisiana Room of the Tulane University library, and the libraries at Oxford and Cambridge in England! It amazed me that I had the good fortune, through no seeking or effort of my own, to have two outstanding poets in the country as my coaches! At such times I am reminded that I am a daughter of the King.
I have just enjoyed another such special gift befitting a daughter of the King. I ran a last check of my old email mailbox before the service was disconnected, and there sat a message with another outstanding opportunity for me...but let me back track a bit. I use a fantastic program with which I create my art on the computer. It is called Corel Painter. Painter has a very high learning curve and when I got the program, I also bought from Total Training a set of video training tapes called Total Painter by artist and instructor Jeremy Sutton. Jeremy paints marvelous bold portraits on the computer, using Painter. I spent many hours with those tapes beginning to learn how to use the program. Painter has such extensive capabilities I feel I have barely begun. After my first time through the tapes I had found them so helpful, I sent Jeremy a short email telling him how valuable they were to me. I was surprised to get a friendly note back. Jeremy also teaches an online course in portrait painting using Painter. Visit his web site at www.jeremysutton.com to see his work.
Jeremy, a native of London, a physicist turned full-time artist, has many interests, and foremost among them is swing dancing. His email indicated he would be traveling from California to Austin last weekend for a swing dance convention and he asked if I were interested in setting up a session or two of private on-site lessons using Painter. This is an instructor who is described at the Amazon site as "the foremost expert on Painter," someone who has traveled this country and overseas demonstrating and instructing in the use of Painter. Jeremy Sutton would come to The Lair? I could save myself the humiliation of trying to do portraits in front of other class members? Now, classes and interaction with other artists and students have a lot to offer, but the older I get, the less inclined I am to put myself in a classroom situation any more. Was I interested? I pounced on the opportunity! I felt elated when it was confirmed, for a few minutes. Until Jeremy gave me my assignment to be completed before he came two days later.
I was to paint a self portrait on Painter and the rules were that I could not erase or undo any mark I made on the digital canvas! I had tried a self portrait two years ago after my first run-through of the tapes and was not pleased with the results at all in terms of getting a likeness. I hated the thought of having to show my burnt offerings to Jeremy, even if he is a teacher. I dutifully struggled to paint the assigned work and promptly lost it in my computer through my ignorance of a technicality. I painted another the day before Jeremy was to arrive. Then the panic set in. I felt the same misery I used to feel as a young girl having to perform piano recitals in front of the people of my hometown. I have often laughingly said that blighted my life. What was I thinking to set this up? I hoped I could get through the coming ordeal without disgracing myself. Well, the day came and here is Jeremy arriving at my front door, ready to go to work.
Guess what? There was no ordeal! Jeremy Sutton is a delight to be around and a gentle, encouraging teacher. He is very professional, he expects a lot of his student and he has the ability to draw what he wants out of even the faintest heart. He made learning Painter and beginning portrait painting something to enjoy. We worked intensely for the two days he was here, and we both were tired out at the end. We spent the first day on how to use Painter and on portraits and the second day he taught me how to do collages in Painter. Jeremy painted my portrait, too. He may put it up on his web site, he said; so I won't put it up on mine just yet. He made a recording of his brushstrokes in Painter (and taught me how to do that) while he painted the portrait, then turned it into an animation that I will put up when I put up the portrait.
Before he left, while writing in the physical Lair Log, Jeremy chatted with Farris, sketching him in the Log all the while, with Farris completely unaware he was doing that. Farris and I enjoyed him thoroughly, having nice visits during lunch and after the days' lessons ended. We feel like we made a new friend, and he has an invitation to return to The Lair for a visit any time he returns to Texas. I doubt he has time for many just friendly visits, but he knows he will be warmly welcomed if he decides to do so.
I can highly recommend Jeremy Sutton to anyone who wants to learn Painter or portrait painting whether on the tapes, studying with him online, or in private on-site sessions as I did. I took this picture of him that I especially like, as it catches nuances of his cheerful nature, his joy in life, his personality. I sent it to him so he can send it to his mother in London.
It was a rewarding, informative experience and I am aware again that I am a daughter of the Highest!
As a direct result of this instruction, I am now at work on a series of collages that I plan to post in my digital gallery when they are complete. Here is a detail of one of the works:
It is based on images of 1920's screen stars BeBe Danials, Miriam Hopkins, and John Boles published in ScreenBook Magazine by Novel Magazine Corporation in 1929. I found the badly disintegrated book along with some early 1930s Photoplay magazines about ten years ago when I helped clean out the house of a relative who had died. My new series will be based on a number of images from these sources.
Last revised: November 26, 2010