Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Year of the Gadfly

I reviewed this book for Newcity: The Year of the Gadfly, by Jennifer Miller. Here's my review. I also painted a scene from it!  Here's the inspiration text:
  Hazel opened the door wearing a long brown sweater, a thick green scarf, and at least a dozen jangling bracelets. She ushered them into to a large room with three tapestry-covered couches and skylights filtering snowy light. The room contained many large paintings, most displaying women in various states of undress. The canvas of the fireplace shoed a woman who resembled Hazel, minus the freckles. Her hair curled like vines across her naked breasts.

I thought I had completely ruined this one several times.  My darling husband, M, kept saying in a soothing voice, "There are no mistakes..." channelling Bob Ross. And later, Walter: "Nothing is fucked, Dude."  Hair, man.  It turns out hair is really hard.  I'm going to try to avoid it in the future.  There were a few "happy accidents" though.  In the end, I kind of like how her hair came out, although I had many small temper tantrums along the way.  I'm pretty happy with the neck, nose, and eyebrows, too.  The background is not great, obs.  

Saturday, July 07, 2012

The Orange Fish

Here's another watercolor from my not-quite-famous-yet (for some reason?) series based on things I'm reading.  This one's from a book of short stories by Carol Shields called The Orange Fish. The title is from the name of the first story, which is about a couple whose lives have gotten kind of stale, so they decide to buy some art work.  They buy a print of a goldfish in a bowl, and... well, their lives start to change.  It's a pretty incredible story.  I don't think my painting will ruin anything for you.

Here's the accompanying text:  Lois-Ann and I took in the flare of dyed hair, curiously angled and distinctively punk in style.  You can imagine our surprise: here of all places to find a spiked bracelet, black nails, cheeks outlined in blue paint, and a forehead tattooed with the world's most familiar expletive. 

I'm sort of proud of this painting, I mean, yes, overall it has some problems but some parts did what I wanted them to do.  I have another painting for you later in the week!

Friday, July 06, 2012

A Nobel Radiance

A chatty bookseller in Seattle talked me (easily) into buying A Nobel Radiance by Donna Leon.  I love a good mystery.  I guess this one is from a series about Guido Brunetti.  He's a "commissario" in Venice.  In A Nobel Radiance, Brunetti is trying to solve the mystery of a kidnapping that occurred a few years ago, after a body is found.  Brunetti is married to a woman who comes from an old, wealthy Venetian family - Leon has a nice balance between her main character's professional and personal life.

I must say, the ending kind of took me by surprise - I did not see it coming (always kind of a fun experience).  The only odd thing about the book was it really could have taken place anywhere. Venice was not really featured at all, which I thought was strange.  Why set a novel in an amazing city like Venice and then not play it up?  Leon seems like a very understated writer, though.  I think she might like putting her action in the wings.  Most of the action is extremely even tempered.

One thing I did love was how much Italian she slid in, without translations, but easily understood.  Except for this sentence: "Qualche garbuglio si troverà." Ah, turns out it's from Figaro... "I'll find some way to mess it up." It was also written in 1998, with a healthy dose of internet/computer skepticism. "Before Signorina Elettra, newly appalled at his ignorance, could begin to explain to him just what a modem was and how it worked, Brunetti turned and left her office. Neither viewed his precipitate departure as a lost opportunity for the advancement of human understanding."

I'd be interested in reading more of her work - if anyone is familiar with her books, please let me know.