A trio of misfit apples.

I once read a diet mantra that has stuck with me for years:

“If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, you’re not hungry.”

I hate apples. It’s mostly a texture thing – the skins against my teeth feel like nails on a chalkboard, and I don’t like them much better peeled. So I’m not sure if that diet advice is even more valid in my case or what, but I do my best to make really healthy food choices so that I don’t have to eat apples.

Turns out I hate painting apples too.

About a year ago I tried to paint a still life of an apple and some walnuts, and it’s one of the few canvases I gesso’d over because I hated it so much. For my little fruit trio assignment I picked up an apple at Whole Foods thinking I’d give it another go. How hard could this little round orb of red and yellow be? It’s aesthetically pleasing enough. Well, after agonizing over this trio intermittently and half-heartedly for the last month I’m giving up. I’m done. I already stopped eating them, now I’m going to stop painting them. I show here my misfit apples, every one of these destined for my portfolio of misfit art. In fact I don’t consider any of them truly finished, I just got tired of working on them all. I even threw away the first pastel version, something I almost never do, and did the second one in about 30 minutes with all the patience of a gnat.

As I write this I also have a trio of eggplants in progress. They might not turn out as expected, as I still seem to struggle with the most basic techniques, but I love them. I love the colors, and the process of resolving all the little problems, and the moments of magic in each of them. So at least I know this isn’t a creative block. It’s all the fault of this detestable apple, henceforth banned from my studio.

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Next up, eggplants, unless I finish the persimmons first, or let myself get sidetracked into pomegranates. This is Southern California and I live on a farmlet. Beautiful, tasty produce abounds here. So who needs apples anyway?

Previously, in the trio series: A trio of brussels sprouts.

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Keep on creating.

For another creative project I’m considering, I found myself in need of a pen-name, and intent on using my grandmother’s name I googled her just to see what kind of confusion I might cause in the world if I went that route. That’s how I stumbled across a mention of a filmed tour of her studio in 1993. I wrote to the artist who created the film, inquiring about how I could view it, and she told me that it was still in vhs format, but if they had the time they would find a way to convert it. Despite other demands for their time, within a matter of weeks a DVD arrived in the mail, and I got to see and hear my grandmother again.

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I felt my heart in my throat as I heard her voice, and I watched through teary eyes as she described her magnificent art and showed her studio and her house just as I remembered it. She occasionally worked in oil, but her primary medium was hooked wall-hangings, and every piece was a carefully considered masterpiece. She was, and is, truly the artistic genius of my very artistic family. It’s a testament to the power of the internet that all these years after she has passed away, I now have this little piece of her, to view and listen to whenever I want to or need to. And I think it arrived at my door at just the right time.

A few weeks ago, the first dog that Greg and I adopted together 14 years ago passed away after a traumatic battle with kidney failure. Immediately after, I went on a dizzying 2 week roadtrip mostly for work, and when I returned I found myself drowning in work and farmlet chores. My art has been neglected, and I started to wonder why I spend my time painting little pictures of fruit anyway, and just generally feeling sorry for myself. So watching my grandmother describe her art was truly a gift. “There’s a philosophy behind all of it” she said at the beginning of the tour. I was 17 when she passed away. I didn’t identify as an artist then. I wish I had known her when I was older, so that I could hear more about her philosophy. I imagine she would be wonderfully encouraging, especially to a female artist in my family full of very proud men. While always exuberant and full of life, she hints at her own struggles, when she says “to heck with competing, I’m going to keep on creating.” In a sense, she’s still creating.

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“This art, and the strain of working it out and resolving it, has helped to knit this broken family… It was a rich life.”

Film credit: nicholsloy studio. Thank you Sandra and Nic.