On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

ARTrails, 2012

One of the annual events in Sonoma County that I particularly enjoy is ARTrails.  It's two weekends in October when artists open their homes or studios to the visiting public.  It's a time to meet the artist, ask questions, purchase art and mix and mingle.  This year there were 256 participants, more than anyone could visit even if you drove around all four days.  Aside from the sheer number of artists, Sonoma County is huge and the driving time alone precludes making many stops.

I had invited Youngest Grandson for a sleepover on Friday night specifically so that we could visit some artists in their natural habitats.  We calendared the weekend over a month ago and his mom told me he was really looking forward to it. As was I.  As was Youngest Daughter who I've taken before.

We got a late start yesterday morning.  I woke up nauseous and in major pain and it took a while for me to pull it together.  To compensate, I suggested we begin in Petaluma where six artists were in studios in one building.  That way, I reasoned, even if I flaked, we would have visited six working artists.

As a strategy, it was a good one.  Most of these folks painted landscapes, something that overwhelms me, but interests Youngest Grandson.  He was noticing how perspective is accomplished, how darks in the front or the back of a painting affect the eye, how we look and take in focal points differently.  I was particularly noticing shadows because that's still difficult for me so objects in my drawings often look like they could take off and float away.

Our next stop was in Graton where my painting teacher has her own studio.  Now she's met my husband, my daughter and one grandson, not typical in her teaching life.  She was generous with the kids and answered their questions patiently.

Next door to her studio was a woman who draws botanicals with colored pencils.  Of everything that we saw yesterday, this was probably the most meaningful to me.  I have been drawing botanicals off and on for years, it's one point of consistency in an inconsistent endeavor.  I've also used colored pencils with the botanicals.  In addition to getting some tips on how to proceed, I also saw what the outcome could be if I took this art form seriously.  Her work was awesome!

We stopped for lunch at a really nice local spot, highly recommended by my instructor.  By now I was hurting more and a bit panicky about how our day was going.  I suggested we go to one more place, a photographer friend of mine - actually his wife is my friend although I've met him numerous times.  It always touches me to what extremes some people go to in creating art when there's not a prayer of a chance of them being able to draw or paint.  That was the case here.  Using a scanner, this guy photographs flowers with a particular technique.  Oh, the final result was beyond gorgeous!  I should look up the links for you so you can see for yourself.  I had no idea he - or anyone - did work like that.  Much of it I think he invented himself.

By the time his demonstration was over I was greener and in extreme pain even though I had been popping pills all along the route.  I just couldn't get on top of anything I was feeling, but I so wanted to spend this day with kids and I certainly didn't want to break my promise.

An hour later we were home.  While the kids were outside unpacking the car, I walked into the house, saw Steve, burst into tears and threw up!  I immediately went to bed while the kids told Papa about their day.

A couple hours later Oldest Daughter and Oldest Grandson came over for Steve's famous pot roast dinner.  I was feeling better by then but not eating.  I languished on the sofa while they ate, just across the room from me.  I'll probably never eat again, that's what it feels like today, but I finally got on top of the pain.

I am so sorry I was feeling poorly on this particular weekend.  I wanted so much to show the kids the artists' studios around Sonoma County.  We made it to nine venues, not bad for one day, and I know the kids had a good time.  I just wished I could have hid my misery a bit better - or had a better day to begin with - so that I could show more enthusiasm to all that was available to us.


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