August 2007 Archives


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today's offering from the muse is clearly part of a series (albeit somewhat involuntary on my part, but hey who can argue with a muse). Irises is almost finished here but needs a little tightening up. Third in line behind poppies and tuscan sunflowers, (grass is not done yet) this could almost be a triad except this one has more texture. That is thanks to Daniel using the canvas originally only to be unsatisfied with the piece he painted and gessoing it over.

So I guess technically this was painted by two artists ;-)

That texture was kind of fun to work with and around although it did take me in a different direction that may feel too frenetic compared to the more fluid other two.

Anyway, I am friends with the muse again. Yea!

friday painting, jewelry, what?

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After yesterday I am so jazzed that I am stuck between being uber productive and completely ineffective.

Is that even possible?

Truthfully I am inspired and look forward to what today has in store. Aside from one expected interruption at noon I have the day to focus.

Now I just have to decide whether I pick up the brush or the torch.;-)

a day in the life

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a cappucinno and apple turnover (because it is all about the food) and a great internet connection brings me to my first silverspring haunt...mayorga cafe. Today is a unique day for the normally house-bound blair. Bryan drops me near here and then drives his grueling(in my opinion) commute to baltimore. I have to meet Brenda at 11 to check out the gallery space for my show. In the between time I have to design an ad for avp and write some publicity copy for a local newsletter for my show.

talk about split in half.

And in all honesty right now the thing that has me charged up is the local-community, tone of what my art show will be. Not the work (if I could only take credit for that) but the fact that this particular gallery is going through a metamorphisis, and my opening is going to be the beginning of its new life.


So, meeting with Brenda, in the space that will be the gallery, we evaluate a number of things.

This is when parts of me in the deep recesses of my being kick in. It is interesting when you have certain experiences and skills that accumulate in your life that make you able to connect the dots in ways that others with other skills would not.

oh yea.

You see, way back when, I had a gallery of my own, and add that to a number of experiences I....

well, you just accumulate info and stuff over your life, ya know?

So, as I look at the space, my stuff kicks in....

It has good bones, great walls, good angles

bad paint, bad ceiling (must change the lighting) bad floor (garage grey)...


Honestly, a person could put on a decent art show in this space in a day, but the potential to make it something special is really there.

So Brenda and I discuss the options and I take some pictures of the space and sketch it out so I can devise an appropriate flow for an installation... not to mention an overall look that might transform the whole space.

Why do I feel so excited about this...

from a business perspective I know from experience that this kind of thing is never a huge money maker. And I would be exttremely arrogant to assume that I am going to sell a ton of work... and even if I did sell everything it would pale in contrast to some people's daily take...

ok that sounded like nonsense...

so my practical side and my artistic side are having one of those warlike conversations.

regardless...I am thrilled. I love the idea of transforming a space, and the fact that my work will be displayed in it is really cool.

So Brenda and I continue our discussion, she talks about a vegetarian caterer and a celtic harpist for the opening and I do my best not to swoon.

She hadn't clued into the fact that my entire collection jumps off from a Celtic spiritual concept (thin places).


OK. so she has stuff to do, and we chat a bit, part ways and I jump on the downtown shuttle.

Next stop Borders in search of a book...

God's Politics, by Jim Wallis.

No it isn't that new, but I haven't read it yet and I have the priviledge of photographing the author in a couple of weeks for his upcoming book. So I figured I needed to catch up on some research.


And then it is off to Adega for lunch. Yummy things and a good book. What can be better.

A walk through the downtown, I head for the metro station where hopefully I will find the right bus.

This is another new thing for me. I have pretty much mastered the metro, but riding the bus is another story...what if i get on the wrong one?

But I magically find the one that seems right and I get in and deposit my quarters and we are off. I read my book occasionally looking up to observe the facinating collection of people that are traveling. The man siting in front of me is wearing a cap that says west virginia, and I notice that his shirt is inside out, the "L" tag sticking out at me. Two rows up are a latino couple having a very animated conversation...I wish I spoke spanish. The bus stops and lets on a couple of children in private school uniforms apparently on their way home.

So I watch to see if we are getting close, and sure enough I picked the right bus. I have been curious about the bus stop that is outside my house(literally at the end of my driveway) and now I know. As we approach, I follow the example of others before me and pull on the wire to alert the driver. Ding. And again as if by magic the bus stops right in front of my door.


This wonderful day ended with me surprising my husband with a candle light dinner on our deck. What a great day.

other than ones of the gallery, these pictures were the only three I shot along the journey of the day. What does that tell you?

what are the odds?

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You know those moments when your mind receives information in a sort of slow-mo fashion?

I had that experience last night...

and then spent the rest of the evening laughing at the statistical odds, not to mention the moral dilemma that faces my husband...

but a bit of back story first...

A few weeks ago I was delivering my new work (poppies and sunflowers) to the little shop in silver spring (Alchemy). Brenda the owner informed me that she had been asked to manage the Heliport Gallery, a gallery established by the organization that planned and revitalized the downtown. Anyway, she informed me that for her first show in that space she wanted to feature my thin places collection. (God Bless her)

My opening night will be October 5th!

So going home that day, I was on a bit of a high. My own show, with my paintings, on white walls...

very cool.

Fast forward to last night...

Bryan and I are in our favorite little wine shop,Adega, having a bottle of red, and some yummy tidbits. We run into a man named Luis Scotti, an artist that Daniel had seen here several months ago. Back then the man was looking over some pictures while having his lunch, and something about him just screamed "artist" so Daniel went up and introduced himself. They struck up a conversation and Luis was curating a show of some sort at the time at one of the embassies, and expressed an interest in seeing some of Daniel's paintings. The potential was very exciting, emails were exchanged but nothing ever came of it despite running into Luis several times later at Adega.

Until last night.

Luis spots Bryan while ordering cake, and asks..."Where is Danielle (very strong accent-he is from Uruguay), I need to speak to him right away, I need his work..."


Forgoing the cake order, Bryan invited Luis back to our table for a glass of wine, and to clarify. Communication is a bit of a challenge because of a slight language barrier, but we manage to get the info...

He wants three of Daniel's paintings for a show he is curating...

this show!

It is an international initiative that involves artists from several countries. An auction for a great cause. Very cool.

So, as we get a little more info, what work, pricing, sizes, etc. As the conversation continues I am more and more excited for my son, great opportunity, wonderful! And then I ask the question...

"When is the opening?" (and this is where my mind received the information in slow motion in some sort of movie fashion)

October 5th.

What are the odds of that?

tapas and sangria

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The perfect thing after moving you kid back to college...

tapas and a pitcher of sangria on the porch of a favorite baltimore restaurant.



sophomore move in

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Summer flown and move in day has come. Two days worth of back and forth and again we prove that you can move just about anything in a convertible.

At least with the top down.

But there were some challenges with timing between downpouring rain on saturday and a heat index of 105. It was like swimming in a fish bowl. But we managed to get Daniel tucked into his new digs in his new on campus apartment. Bryan worked his magic as usual hanging lights to shine on the big work wall (for all those artistic creations) making sure the direction was just so because we all know that...

"its all about the lighting".

A few pictures down you will see how hard I am working trying out the new papasan chair. Yes, those are my feet.

All in all this moving of our dear one was less traumatic this year as last. Fewer unknowns, we have all grown up a bit this year, and so the goodbyes were not followed by the lump in the throat but by, a more casual see ya later, have a great year...

Man did the summer fly by.





don't force the muse

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I woke up this morning really wanting to take advantage of an "artist date". The paint was calling but the muse was not budging. I completed an entire canvas that went absolutely nowhere(which I will not show here). Apparently this day she would not be forced but instead rallied for a nap.

So I obliged.

It may seem like the apex of indulgences, or at the very least a little lazy, but I have to tell you that I have become a big one for taking naps.

And it seemed to help the muse, because I started something that felt right. A continued exploration in the impressionism vein.



bible bonk


Woman: "I hope you haven't DAMAGED it"...

Me, turning to woman: "What... what do you mean..,"

Indignant, Woman: "YOU are leaning on my car, You BETTER NOT have DAMAGED IT"...

Me, backing away from car(that I was not leaning on but standing next too), "I am sorry, we were just standing here talking...,"

This was the diologue that took place in the street as we were dropping Daniel off at a friend's apartment in baltimore last saturday. He had generously offered to help this friend move her stuff into her new apartment and so upon spotting her, and her parents, Bryan pulled the car to the side of the road to let Daniel out of the car. Her parents approached, and while the car was running we all got out of the car for a quick impromptu meeting. Handshakes and pleasantries were exchanged at the slight side of the road, but sort of in the middle of the street next to a row of parked cars. No traffic on this somewhat quiet street and so we felt comfortable to chit chat a bit without rudely jumping into our car. The six of us talking briefly about the upcoming year. The sun is shining, birds are singing, and then...

two african american women approach us and the dialogue begins...

In a very snotty defensive and unnecessary tone of voice, "I hope you haven't DAMAGED it".

and you read the rest of the diologue. Actually there was more but that was the jist. Daniel's friend, Cara's father was leaning against the mirror on this woman's car, and I was standing beside him when the verbal pelting insued.

I realize that personal space in our country is very important. I also realize that the value that we place on our material posessions is at an all time high. I even realize that when living in a stressed out environement of sheer entitlement one can become a little testy.

But there was one thing about the diologuing woman that really pissed me off...

she and her friend were holding bibles.

Starving children in the world, war, disease, pain and suffering, but this woman gets unnerved because this guy is leaning against her car.

I guess I have so much higher expectations for the christian class. But what I really wondered is that if this woman had been aware that I was a "fellow christian" would she have behaved differently? And this is where the real rub is for me... the us and them. I am guessing that in her pious state this woman had one of those "I must be better than you" moments that is sometimes perpetuated by the wholier than thou. Making the assumption that this group standing next to her car was in the "lost" category she mustered the righteous indignation to put us in our place.

I wonder which lord gave her the commandments to do that.

While holding a black bound copy of "Holy Scriptures" she managed to do everything opposite of what they teach.

OK, maybe she was a newbee.
Maybe she had just got the book off of Amazon and hadn't had a chance to crack the cover yet.
Maybe she had just broken up with her boyfriend who had an annoying habit of leaning on her car.

well there are a thousand excuses. Except they are all pretty lame.

And the level of importance placed on a behavior compared to what we are called to be as disciples...well...

Call me crazy but I don't think "love thy neighbor" is anywhere near "defend thy car".

Anyway, fortunately I did not have the tongue to lash out at this woman, just the unnecessary apology while partially paralyzed by astonishment. Which is kind of a drag because I thought of ten very eloquent things that I could have said to her about an hour later. Ok maybe that was fruit of the spirit kicking in.

But seriously it makes me sad that somewhere along the line something sinister has crept into people who proudly wear the banner of Christ across their chest. Is it any wonder that some of us have stepped away from the institution that is producing these people. Of course I am brandishing my own brand of judgement here, but I have to ask the question...

What if it were Christ leaning on her car?

Mr 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these."

Php 2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

"In order to seek one's own direction, one must simplify the mechanics of ordinary life." -Plato


"Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans,".. or whatever that quote is. Life has sped right by me of late which means a few things get left in the dust.

Like blog.

But it is always a good indication for me that I need to re-calibrate and balance out the things that may be taking too much time. Sometimes things happen and you kind of have to roll with it, but other times need choice applied...

there is a time for every season under heaven...

anyway, getting back in balance is key for me this week. I can always feel it in my bones when there is too much and crisis mode kicks in which means you are functioning only on the "what needs to happen or get done at this moment", mode. Not good. Fortunately I am not there yet. The usual indicator for this is skipping morning coffee...

bad, very bad.

But like I said, not there yet, but there is much on the horizon to consider. We are approaching fall and I have a conference to prepare for, a book to finish, and a planet to manage ;-). The list from 07 needs to be revised due to some things sort of being out of my control but a couple of the biggies are still on my must do finish the backyard. and complete the designs for Exnihilo. So, keeping the big ones in mind I may cut back on a few other plans in order to stay balanced. I need to blog, and I need to paint, and neither of those have been in their proper place for several weeks. They feed the well that enables the rest of it...

the art of living.

You know things have gone completely south when stuff ends up on my dining room table...

but I am not there yet either. Close? yes. Looming? maybe. Good time to catch life becoming business and snap it back to art. Otherwise life becomes no fun at all. How does one snap it back?

Good question. What I have found is that sometimes it takes radical measures like cutting some major commitments out of your life that seem to be sucking the joy out of things. Of course some commitments are unavoidable(like a job) but sometimes there are those that may have gone on for years and you wonder why you are still doing it. Time to rethink. Then there are other little things that we sometimes choose to do that may be unnecessary. My personal favorite example of this is grocery shopping.

yea, I have mine delivered.

Some people LOVE to shop. But for this introvert the grocery store has never had much appeal. Maybe it stems from the early married days of going down every aisle with calculator in hand pinching pennies until they screamed and buying the generic brand not because it was the "green" choice but because it was all we could afford. Maybe it stems from the fact that the whole activity of going through a grocery store (or mall or other shopping place) always leaves me tired and tapped. So it makes sense for me to go online, check off my list, and then go about my business until the doorbell rings with my groceries.

This is not an extravagance, but a practical choice. It enables me to apply that otherwise spent energy to something else. Something I value more. But it took me years to understand that.

The "keep life in balance" principle is not easy. I think it requires an intentionality that can feel like swimming upstream against the flow. And there are so many contributing factors that can knock things off kilter. Some are tangible, some psychological, some uncontrolable, some are even self-inflicted. But I have found that artful living is a worthwhile pursuit and I continue to throw myself at it. So this week I am going to employ my favorites...

My top ten ways of living an artfully balanced life:

1. Have at least one room in your house that is meant to be a disaster. For me this is my studio, and as much as I like it to be clean, the rule is that there is permission given for that room to be whatever it needs to. Sometimes it looks like an ikea show room and sometimes it looks like a tornado hit and dumped an art supply store in the process. That is the point. There is freedom in having a place where martha stewart would dare not enter. Relish it.

2. Have at least one room in your house that is always put together. For me this is our dining room. It is where we gather for dinner and every other room in the house can be a bit cluttered as long as there is this haven at mealtime. It is a place of calm. Having another room as a private haven of escape is also a good thing. I have a bathroom that we remodeled with an old clawfoot bathtub I got off of ebay. A lot of my best ideas have sprung from a good soak in that tub.

3. File the mail the moment you look at it. Toss the junk and file the bills. This seems silly but it helps things from getting out of hand. For me mail is an icon of the world spinning out of control and taking care of it everyday gives me some sort of peace. Weird? Maybe, but three days of unattended mail is a bummer. Now if I could just apply this principle to email...hmm...

4. Never say yes right away. Always give yourself some time to think before making a commitment. "I'll get back to you on that", can make the difference from being impulsive and making a mistake to thinking something through and being wise. We have all committed to things that end up taking more time than we initially realized. Taking a few minutes to ponder the ramification of a choice can serve well later on.

5. Never answer the phone. Ok this doesn't work for everyone, but I have to screen my calls or I would never get anything done. The mental energy spent on sales calls alone would be a waste.

6. Eat right, sleep right. This seems so silly, but who does it? Eating good food at normal times helps the body to run smoothly. Sleep? Duh.

7. Delegate things you hate to do. This may sound selfish, but it is actually a very practical approach to time (and sanity) management. We all have stuff we have to do, but if there is just one thing you can hand off... for me it's grocery shopping. Get rid of overcommitment and strive for simplicity.

8. Never forsake a creative moment. When given the opportunity to do something creatively, do that. This one is hard to explain. For me, a recent example of this was that my grape vines needed a trellis. Hence the picture below. A more daily example would be simply setting the table with cloth napkins, but for some people that extra laundry would tip their balance meter. Depends on the person.

9. Have a time set aside every week to recharge. For me it is my artist date on fridays. Sometimes it is an hour, sometimes (if I am lucky) it is the whole day. Having a time designated for rest is something to look forward to and balances out other times of the week that get mundane or tedious. If you have trouble justifying this think fourth commandment. If God thought it was a good idea, maybe so should we.

10. Practice being grateful. This is sometimes hard for me because I often get bogged down in the details and then get sullen. Popping my head out and looking at all that has brought me to this point in my life, the who, the what, and the how, is something to be grateful for. Cherishing the people in my life is the main thing, then all the other things, material or otherwise, are just a bonus.

"Be content in all things..."

Anyway, just a few of my favorites. There are more quirky things that keep things going in my little world, but this week we are keeping it simple.

handmade copper trellis for the concord grape vines

Created this image some time ago as a metaphor for racial diversity but am considering it for an ad. The planet keeps spinning and if genuine original art has any voice I have to advertise to get it heard. And the church world has too many flowers, sunsets, and fluffy bunnies.

But I hate advertising.

I always feel a little sluty doing ads for something that I consider a ministry.

But it is my bread and butter too. And creating the art doesn't have much meaning if nobody gets to see it.

Kinda like if a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it... or a bear....

Well, you know.


This series also evolved into the image of christ as a woman covered in blood...

definitely not fluffy.


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Much better than what you get at the store, my two plants are now inundating us with produce.
Salsa, anyone?


more than a step


When I went away to college in 1983 a new person stepped into my mother's life.

And into mine.

Although he had five children of his own, he readily included me as one of them.

Sitting in the service that memorialized him I contemplated the word.


From the phone call that said "you need to come home", "he isn't doing well", to the call a few hours later..."he's gone", to the plane ride and the planning and preparations... during it all I kept contemplating the word.


He walked me down the aisle on my wedding day, moved my stuff in college, helped with my first art show... all those things a father would.

Through the years he took that place that my natural father never would have. He became the ideal of the word father. Our relationship as "steps" always made me keep things cordial, and polite. It is funny how a simple word can lay boundries around your heart that keep you from recognizing the fullness of a relationship. Through the journey of the last week from the sad news to experiencing my mother's tears, and my own, I felt as though my own emotions had ambushed me. The word step could not allow me to completely identify with the emotions of his real daughters and yet the emotions were there laying claim without permission.

The emotional protection that would be caused by the distancing of the word...

was not there.

Confusion about what I thought was appropriate to feel compared to what I was feeling sat within me.

I am only a step.

For twenty three years he made my mother happy, cared for two families...children..grandchildren...great grandchildren. Clearly he had enough love to go around.

Countless hours were spent discussing life, spirituality, politics, and protocol during the many visits to wherever we were living at the time, Alberta, Florida, Maryland. He was always ready to give advice but only if invited to do so. Mostly he would listen. Except when telling his stories of the war which everyone loved to hear even though we had heard each one many times before. He taught the things that my natural father never could. Integrity, honesty, loyalty.

It always felt good to make him proud.

In the time that ticked away from the moment that he became my mother's husband something happened to the title. What seemed a firm definition of a relationship by term became a thin and meaningless word last wednesday. Watching the flag folded and handed to my mother I wrestled with this word that was not giving me full permission and something became clear. The culmination of time and love had erased the meaning.

He was not just a step...

He was my father.


George Callihan

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This page is an archive of entries from August 2007 listed from newest to oldest.

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