Saturday, August 4, 2012

citrus and cactus blossoms.

Last night I made some new still life paintings of citrus. I had some clementines and limes in the fridge.

The pictures of these paintings didn't turn out very well. There are a lot of subtle tones in the background that don't come across in the photos. In the painting of the limes there's a pleasing, slightly yellow/slightly green tone in the background that just doesn't come across in the photo. Likewise, the background in the painting of the clementines is slightly more yellow than what appears in the photo. Just a little.

And, I finished the painting of Craig and the cactus flower.

I'm trying to decide what the subject of the next cactus flower painting will be. There's a night blooming cactus in my front yard that only blooms one time per year, and the blossoms last one night only. It's amazing. It blooms every year around August 1. I'm considering this for my next subject. Here are the pictures I took of the cactus this year:

First of all, aren't they incredible?? You know, I said that these flowers bloom every year around the first of August, but I have only been in this house for two summers now, and only seen this cactus bloom twice. So...what do I know.

I don't know if I'll ever forget the first time I saw this cactus blossom. The house was new, our stuff was still in boxes, I'd been living on Luna bars, I was exhausted. My family was away when we got the keys to the house and I did the moving myself. I'd just had this crazy, disastrous experience wherein I tore out the carpet and discovered that the hardwood floors in the hallway were black and stained. Look at this:

So then I hired this guy, who turned into a good friend (and an awesome handyman), to refinish the floors. Only I had so little money that I hired him for a pittance. And he completely came through for me. He worked for like three or four straight days, loooonnnnggg days. He didn't have a car, and in fact he lives like 45 minutes away, and I was picking him up every morning at like 7AM and dropping him off sometimes as late as 1 or 1:30AM. During the day I'd run errands for materials or spend my time writing freelance articles just trying to make a little more money. That was at the end of July. I moved in our stuff on the first of August and that took days because I was doing it by myself and trying to do it without hiring anyone because I had no money. (this is a common theme in my life:)

Plus...I don't know if you can imagine what my house looked like at this point, but just look at those floors. When we pulled out the carpet, there was tack strip lining the floor in every room. Nails. Debris. The carpet had left an old people smell that was slow to go away. Plus, I was convinced (I mean, convinced) that the people who lived in the house before we bought it were now dead. I knew they were very old, and that they had not died on the premises (there's actually a law that says you have to disclose that information if someone has died in the house). But I had some concerns (serious concerns) that the house was haunted. Because...look at those pictures of the floor and imagine a house that looks like that all over. It looked like a torture chamber.

It was hard to imagine it wasn't haunted. I was scared. I slept every night on the floor in the living room with the light on low and the television on. I even slept in my car one late night when I pulled in at 4AM with a load full of stuff that needed to be dropped off (I am incredibly scared of ghosts).

So by August 1ish I was bruised, under fed, broke, stressed and sleep deprived. My new house was a fearsome stranger in my life. And I stepped out of the house to take out the trash and go work one morning and I saw this.

A gift for me, from the house. To me it was a sign that all was ok.

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