In the Studio Today... Art on Gospel Flat Farm

Wednesday August 28, 2013
My tiny 6" painting on hood of my car where I painted with Art on the Farm

I just updated the blog for the Art on the Farm group, and thought I would share a little more about my most recent paint out.  We had a terrific day out at the Murch Family farm in Bolinas, "Gospel Flat Farm".  This is the iconic, Marin Farm Stand that you see on the entrance to Bolinas, which is open 24 hours and sometimes sells fresh bread.  What an amazing part of Marin, and how lucky we are to have young, dedicated family farmers.

If you haven't been to Bolinas or met Mickey Murch and his family, you need to get out there and share the joy that this family farm provides so many locals and tourists.  At the end of our biggest painting day all season, I went to purchase my produce from the farm stand and Mickey was just placing jars with bouquets of giant zucchini blossoms out on the table.  Mickey told me that he loved getting to take the kids from a local camp out to gather eggs from his farm, and then pick the squash blossoms and return to their mobile kitchen right behind the farm stand, and cook the blossoms and eggs with the kids.  Mickey told the story with such joy and you could sense the pride of ownership and love of teaching kids about his job.

I bought two jars of blossoms and brought them home to stuff with ricotta cheese, fresh basil and bread in egg, flour and fry in olive oil and garlic.  A family recipe from my Italian heritage and grandparents in Connecticut, my meal was memory-laden, gathered locally, connected to art, education and joy, absolutely delicious, and.... priceless.

Click here to view more photos of the paint out and read the blog at Art on the Farm

In the Studio Today... Open-faced, Late Summer Zucchini meets Cow Girl & Brickmaiden

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Late Summer Zucchini Sandwich, originally uploaded by cproppe.
Here is my spontanteous, sandwich contest entry story. (Mezzetta Foods annual "Make that Sandwich" Contest is underway, and entries are due on September 1, 2013 "Labor Day").

Back from Connecticut with the twins, and a day after their orientation to 6th grade, I remembered I'd purchased a Groupon for surfing lessons at Stinson Beach Surf Camps and we raced out there to join Tommy and his band of merry, banana wielding monkeys, ages 6 to 16, in the balmy waters of late summer Pacific Ocean surf.  What a beautiful day it was... but for the fact that Blake, my 50 lb. eleven year old ballet dancer, arrived at the beach with a pounding headache and stomach ache.  I have to give the kid huge credit, as he managed to make it through an afternoon of surfing and stood up on his own several times before he had to let loose the rage within his tummy in a sand bucket.   He was fine afterwards, another amazing miracle of youth; surfing one minute, sick the next, and then singing songs with his brother all the way home on winding roads.  Impressive, right?

Well, this little day trip lead me to create something of a small miracle of my own, although I am not as youthful and bouncy.  Well, maybe bouncy, but not necessarily in a good way.

The open-faced sandwich was a spontaneous, Stinson Beach gourmet and refrigerator concoction that will be repeated soon.  I had picked up a large artisan round loaf of Brickmaiden Breads (Pt. Reyes)whole grain, sourdough bread at the Stinson Grocery, and another round of Cow Girl Creamery's Mt. Tam, soft cheese.  The previous night, I had sauteed several dark green and heirloom zucchini from the garden, with fresh garlic, olive oil, and sea salt.  These were great cold, having been refrigerated overnight.  I had fresh tomato from the garden, and specialty olives on hand.  A 3/4" slice of the fresh, whole grain sourdough with the creamy cheese spread on top, then layered with tomato slices, zucchini coins, and salty olives was really an amazing and quick dinner after a long day at the beach.  Add a glass of red wine, and "Mangia, mangia!"  My Italian Grandmother used to say this at our feast-like, family meals.  An appropriate salute, given that Mezzetta Foods is a 4th Generation, Italian family run company and this sandwich reminded me of the Mezzetta "Make that Sandwich" contest that I have seen on Twitter.  This sandwich could easily be made using several of their products.

1/4" fresh Zucchini coins until lightly browned on each side in:
• 2-3 TBS of Mezzetta Olive Oil
• with 1 TBS Mezzetta Crushed Garlic
Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, drain liquid, and refrigerate over night in covered glass pyrex.

• several 3/4" slices of Brickmaiden Whole Grain Sourdough Bread

• bread with Cow Girl Creamery, Mt. Tam Cheese

• thinly sliced, fresh tomato and cold zucchini coins

Top with
• halved, seasoned olives (You may wish to use Mezzetta Pitted Kalamata Olives or Mezzatta Greek Olives, or others of your choice.)

I'm sure it would have been even more yummy with the addition of roasted bell peppers sauteed with the zucchini, but I did not try this yet.  Mezzetta also makes jarred, Roasted Bell Peppers, that would be perfect for my next attempt.

Note***   Sandwich photos coming soon... all ingredients were eaten during the brainstorming and creative process, plus, the kids ate 3/4 of the bread in the car on the way home, leaving me very little materials left for creative photography after I ate the two slices left over!

In the Studio Today... My Old Greenwich Gallery

Thursday August 8, 2013
King's Beach, Lake Tahoe 24" x 36" o/c  1991

Not all of us are lucky enough to reach 45 years with two, healthy and adoring parents that can take their grandkids on a cross-country trip to see all the landmarks in the US.  I am really, really grateful for my incredible parents.  Not only have they supported my sons in their education, but my entire life, they have supported my art.  They have put me in art classes, high school summer abroad program in France with Parsons School of Design, and College with a wonderful art program.  They have been my biggest fans, always.  It's pretty amazing to come home to visit and find more than 12 of my paintings on one floor.  I finally have decided that their home is "My Old Greenwich Gallery".

Beach Still Life, painted at Colby College 1990
Lighthouse, Maine  1992
South of France, 1985
South of France, Limited Palette Gauche, 1985

South of France, forest by a castle, 1985 (Gauche)

Vintage Columbia, Gauche

Gospel Flat Farms, Art on the Farm 2008

Rangely, Maine 1997

Matanzas Creek Vineyard o/c 2010

Art on the Farm Paintings, Bolinas, CA

In the Studio Today... Disability Confidence with Google Glass

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

I am delighted to share this amazing video and hope it will help Alex with the funding she needs to pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance.  Help keep her going with her life being disability confident.

Please click here to visit Alex's website, and donate to assist with her medical support if you can!

Go, Alex!  Go, Google Glass!

In the Studio Today... Painting, Reading & Writing on the Plane

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

I'm on a plane and it's been relatively uneventful, for which I feel blessed.  The worst issue thus far has been a very polite flight attendant, with blue-rimmed glasses that matched her scarf, refunding a man in front of me for a movie he'd purchased that would not play because his tv was not working properly.

I've had a lot of quiet time this week, possibly only the second burst of silence since my twins were born 11 years ago, as my parents have taken them on a cross-country "bucket list" of sorts; last photo they sent me by email was my sons, both smiling, in front of Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.

I am currently writing this with pen and paper, but earlier, I sketched out an idea on my iPhone using the Brushes App.  I had this idea to paint the feeling of losing my Google Glass in a wave and not being able to finish my projects that I had been so excited about.  Just as I was about to add a photo layer with Brushes that would go behind the layer of my drawing, I realized my App did not have that functionality and the photo of a wave pasted itself down on top of my work.  I couldn't "undo". ( I was able to play back the movie on my phone and grab these tiny little screenshots, pictured above).  However, the play button was still functional and I played back the movie from my first brushstroke to my last, watching my drawing recreate itself again, stroke by stroke, color, then shape, then idea... and then I saw the wave photo plop down on top of my drawing, covering it up completely, ending it all.  It was a complete recreation of the loss of my Google Glass product in a mini-animation.  So serendipitous and fitting.  I gave up finishing the drawing for now, and decided to read a book; an absolute rarity in my life as a busy twin mom with no relatives in California, and with a difficult relationship with my sons' father.

I am reading Anne Lamott's latest book, "Some Assembly Required", which I realize now is a week overdue from the Fairfax Library,  but I desperately wanted to read it on the plane so I stole it away with out even renewing it.  Bad.  I feel badly, and I think about how many times my sons and I return our books in late.  We are like the three stooges of tardiness, bumbling through life, just trying to make it through each day in Marin, in our tiny rental with all of us having our own unique challenges.

I see now I have dog-eared almost every third page because I love something Anne has said so much, I want to save it and let it sink in deeper.  For example, she writes of life being either mostly okay or hard and weird and alternating between the two. (p.40)  I really loved the discussion Anne and her son were having about parenting, when Sam talks about forgiveness and the ability to start over.  (p.57-58)

Sam: "It's so incredibly humbling when someone forgives you- I can't ever believe when people forgive me, because you know how badly you've screwed up , and how you've hurt them, and how hard it is for them to be brave enough to find it in themselves to reexperience the pain you caused, and the humiliation that is in them because of you, and for someone to be willing to refeel that much shit again, reexperience it out of not wanting to lose you, means how deeply precious you are to them.  And that's pure gold."

Sam's remarks immediately made me think of my past, my ex-husband who I can only believe is doing okay with what pain I caused him and his family from a crisis I went through after an affair at age 30.  It involved scandal, anger, rage, silence, counseling, hospital trips for severe depression, and the full gamut of an award winning drama.  I had lost my best friend's trust in a huge way, and hurt him terribly and scared and freaked out all my friends and family.  I had to rebuild myself completely, with out his friendship.

In the boom, we had been living life large working on children's edutainment software with many good friends in these companies with us.  We loved having huge vegetarian dinners with our friends who were animators, artists, programmers and musicians; parties with lots of people, but it all turned quickly into a silent and bitter place where I had to learn to live with myself.  However, for this horrible time, I am entirely grateful.  This was before cell phones could allow you to go anywhere alone and still be with others.  I overcame the worst fears and learned to eat in restaurants alone, and go to movies alone.  I learned to find roommates.  I had three different women roommates that year.

After quite a productive summer, trying to meet new people and forget my pain, I came to spend a Fall  in that same space, pregnant with twins and completely alone, with just my dog.  I would play clarinet and piano in the house and sing, alone and pregnant, but singing to my unborn babies.  I bought them musical crib toys: a Sunflower Face for Aidan, and it played "You are my sunshine", and a purple monkey for Blake which played the Lullaby Song.  I would pull those strings and listen to the music and fall asleep, thinking only of my sons.

When I became pregnant with twins unexpectedly, I was not even divorced yet.  No one wanted me to go through with it.  Not my parents, their father or my workplace boss.  I was fired from my full-time job and forced to look for work while 3 months pregnant.  Fortunately for me, Marin County helped me survive.  I answered the sign at the church on SFDrake that read, "Are you Pregnant?  Need Help?"... Yes, I actually called many hotlines, police, family law and child welfare.  I have been very, very alone in Marin and yet always had some external grown-up at the end of a phone call to come to the rescue.  I was able to work with a mother of twin boys who let me work for half baby supplies and half cash.  I learned so much from her family, god bless them.  I also was able to work through a law suit over a three year period to get some money from the company that fired me.  Most recently, I have needed help from Marin again, when my sons' father was not addressing his addictions that he'd had since I began living with him.  He decided he wanted to help after all, since these were going to be his sons, and he has helped.  Believe me, I have needed his help to stay afloat and have enough hands to care for two babies, but I have not needed addiction, fear of being hurt, or lying.  We are in a place of change now, where I have made the choice to move on because it will be better for all of us, but it is still a "day to day" journey.  No one is going to hand us money to live in separate homes in Marin.  Our families are retired and on a budget.  They have helped us so much, but I would never expect them to provide in that way.  I am in a place that I want to stay for my sons, but it is extremely challenging to have the jobs and money it takes to live in two separate homes in Marin County.

With all that I am reading from Anne, Sam, Amy and baby Jax, I am constantly reminded of the struggles I have faced too, and that we are all in this crazy place where sometimes you win and sometimes you get something you didn't expect.  I am 45 years old this year (although I still like to pretend I'm 30), and I read Sam's story of becoming a father at 19 as if it was myself, today.  I still don't have the answers for my family.  I don't know what to expect for my sons, nor can I fathom what the world will be like in 5 or 10 years.  I too rely on my wonderful parents who did have jobs that were stable their entire lives and pensions and who want to give their grandchildren an education.  I think the best we can do is try to care for each other across the generations, and realize we are all in this together and nothing is the same as it was 50 years ago, or even 10 years ago.  Practice random acts of kindness and compassion.  Help each other, and don't give up, even if you are hit by an unexpected wave and lose everything.

For Anne, if you ever see this, I recently heard you speak at Ann Brebner's event for Alter Theater.  You talked about how you felt everyone knows everything about you and you don't want to have to do this any more.  It saddened me quite a bit, and I realized today, on the plane, that you really share with your readers of life, love, your passions and loss in such an artful and poetic way.  I laugh, cry (yes, I cried on the plane today), and keep reading, even as the plane is landing.  I thought to myself, if anyone could soothe me now, in this hard time, when I am afraid too, it is Anne Lamott because she is real, and truthful and honest.  She doesn't hide her life and try to pretend it's something it is not.  She takes away an element of fear we all have, and allows us to write about our own lives, no matter how imperfect they may be. Today, she has a wonderful, extended family to share these important messages.  Thank you, new family.  Welcome, and keep up the good work.

In the Studio Today...
2nd Bike Painting inspired by Google Glass

Sunday, August 4, 2013

I have started another painting inspired by Google Glass.  This one is from the day I went out to the Mill Valley Bike Path with my son, and he got to wear Google Glass and record video from his perspective at the Skate Park we discovered. (We actually didn't even know it was there until we were headed home and stumbled upon it!)

I took a photo #throughglass of this cyclist headed towards Sausalito in golden hour lighting... I knew this one would look great as a large painting, and I am working on it now as a 30" x 48" oil on 1.5" canvas.  This is the first session, today.  It is definitely still in progress, but this is what a painting looks like when I've done the first day of blocking out the canvas with color.  Glass was necessary to capture this because I saw the cyclist passing me, turned and was able to press the button on my Google Glass to capture this photo really quickly.  If I'd had to pull out my phone, I never would have capture this image.
Stay tuned for the final version...

In the Studio Today... Letter to the Artist's Sons

"Ride to the Roasters" (The artist's sons are portrayed in the window)

Letter to my Sons

August 3, 2013

Dear Aidan and Blake,

I want to take a moment to tell you how special you both are and that life is not going to be easy, painless, or perfect, but you are always important.  Never ever let people get you down; although they may discourage you and try to make you feel less than wonderful, do not let them.  "Stick to your guns".   What does that mean?  It means that you figure out what you do best or how you can help the world, what you enjoy doing and what are your strengths, and then you go out there and use them to improve the world.

If people don't believe in what you are doing or try to put you down, ignore them- celebrate and join the ones that do care about you.  This doesn't mean that you can't work with those people, because you will have to work with people you don't really like in your life, whether it's in a classroom, school play, on a team or at a job, you are going to come across people that will not always be on your side.  Don't be afraid to go to the top and let them know what is going on.  I have always told you if you have a problem on the playground, go to a teacher or a grown up for help; don't start a fight or try to take it into your own hands.  This is really important as you go through your teenage years- many kids can be super cruel because they haven't yet learned how to behave and treat others with respect.  Hopefully, they will learn, but even grown ups can be cruel and disrespectful.  You just have to stay strong and don't give up.

I had a lot of mean things done to me and said to me in high school, and I took it to heart and hurt very much inside.  Some of the things that happened were about sex and I didn't want to tell my parents, but I was hurting and I held that pain inside me.  I would escape to the library during school lunches and recess to get my work done, or to the art wing to paint.  These were good ways to get away from people that were not very nice, and I encourage you to use the library, resource room and teachers and people that do care about you when things are not going so well with other kids.  Don't let pain get you down when we are here to help.  Talk to me or your father or your grandparents.  Talk to a teacher that you trust.  Find someone to help you and never let feelings eat you up inside to the point of despair.  Remember, you are important to us, your grandparents, your teachers and your friends.  Your community is just waiting for you to help and there will always be a need for you in the world.

Already, at age eleven, you have both inspired us with your enthusiasm for life, stories, games, laughter, music and being together.  You are "wondertwins" and together, activate theater, songs, dance and duets that have made us smile and cry tears of joy.  Although you both started out in a special school for pre-schoolers with delays, you joined the regular kids your age in Kindgergarten, and have done very well and kept up with the other kids.  I am so proud of you for your ability to keep going and not let your differences get you down.  Stay strong.  Make your disadvantages your strengths by finding ways to use the special talents you do have.  Remember that you do have something special and unique to offer the world, and you will find your place someday.  It may take 10 years or it may take 40 years, but don't let that stop you from trying.  You can do anything you set your mind to, within reason, and we all can continue to learn and grow, especially as adults.

Right now, we are all in a time of change in that the technologies today are coming at us faster than we all know what to do with them.  Many of us are spending so much time looking at screens, and not enough time outside.  Knowing how much you both love computers, games and programming, I want to make sure you both find things you love to do outside or in the gym that can serve as your compass and keep you steady and headed in the right direction.  For your father and I, riding our bikes is a big part of how we are able to relieve stress and get bad thoughts out of our heads.  I can leave the house frustrated and angry, and come back from a bike ride with a wonderful idea.  Part of this is because exercise gets your blood flow going, and you have better ideas when more oxygen makes it to your brain!  We need to breathe to succeed.  We need to take breaks and take time to take care of our health and bodies, and that in turn will help our minds grow strong.

You have had to grow up seeing the affects of one type of addiction in your family, and how alcohol can make a person angry and irrational.  This year, I believe this family member is finally changing and taking steps to improve.  This is not something I expected to happen, and I had given up hope, but I am really happy to see some improvement and it will mean a better situation for all of us.

You are on a trip traveling across the country with your Grandparents, my parents.  They are wonderful people, and have taught me so much about living a quality life.  In their retirement, they are active and busy people that volunteer, serve on boards, plant flowers and help their community.  They are in book clubs and read the newspaper every morning.  They don't spend a lot of time online, although they do email with important friends, relatives and the groups they work with.  Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are not things they waste time on, but instead, they send a holiday card once a year to all their friends that they pour their hearts into, and take the time to write a well written letter with photos of their year and family.  They have survived and excelled for 70+ years without the technologies that you are going to be learning.  It's okay to step away from technology when you need a break and need to get work done.  There is no reason you have to tell everyone what you are doing every single minute of the day, even though you can.  In fact, you will get more work done if you avoid these social sites for extended periods.  I have to shut down my own computer in order to create a painting or clean the house.  If I keep checking all the emails and tweets and Facebook alerts I get each day, I never get anything done, and then it is 3pm and I haven't even had lunch.  These social tools can be very addictive, and we can feel like we can't stop because there is always someone responding to you and you may feel a pressure to respond.  It's okay not to.  It's okay to unplug for the weekend and go back to work on Monday.  We have to set up boundaries so that we can take care of ourselves, eat, sleep, do the laundry, pay the bills.  All the physical activities of daily living require us to shut off the computer.

When you come back from your trip, we are going to try something new.  As a family, we are going to limit our computer "play" time to 1 hour at home only.  We will not use our phones or iPods at restaurants or during bike rides or hikes.  We will be present for each other.  I am excited to make this adjustment to our lives for all of us.  I see this as a simple step we can make that will help us enjoy life to the fullest, and not just inside a virtual game or world where we never really see or touch our friends, but only share with them in a virtual space.  It can be very wonderful, but it is not the same as taking a walk, talking to your neighbor, or going into your real community and neighborhood and helping someone who needs your help.  It's important to remember that the world is out there, from sea to shining sea and beyond, not just inside the computer screen.  As you are taking this fantastic trip with your grandparents and seeing mountains and geysers and bison and many different kinds of people, you must understand and appreciate them all, and learn to appreciate that we are all different and that it takes many different kinds of people to make the world run.  This means you won't agree with everyone all the time, but you will still have to learn to get along.

Getting along involves a lot of energy, patience, and learning how to respond politely when necessary, and to ignore or walk away when someone is doing something wrong.  If someone is arguing with you and raising their voice and it doesn't feel right, that is the time to just walk away.  No one ever deserves to be yelled at, in person, or online.  On the computer, you can stop an argument by deleting someone's bad comments and blocking them from your site.  You can also just "not respond".  An argument can only stop when one side chooses to stop, and you always have the power to be the one to stop any argument.  Walking away is a powerful tool.  Just like not letting someone's words upset you and still believing in yourself.

I love you very much and I look forward to growing and learning right alongside you as you launch into Middle School this month!

Don't forget to say THANK YOU to your grandparents every day for taking you on this amazing adventure.  They are the best people, and you can learn so much from them.  Now is the time to ask them questions!  They can teach you so much.

I look forward to seeing you next week, and I miss you both very much.



In the Studio Today... #throughglass "Oak Echo"

"Oak Echo", photo taken with Google Glass Beta, July 2013 C.Proppé
Starting with nothing and getting to 60 signatures on a petition is hard work!  But this is a great and reaffirming feeling for me, that so many of my friends and those in my community are behind me.  Thank you!  Click here to sign the petition or share it with a friendIf you would like a photo print of the image above that was taken with Google Glass before my device sank into the ocean, please email me and send me your address.  I'm happy to do that for you!

To infinity and beyond!  Well... we only need 40 more signatures, but I can dream, right?

Please sign the petition today, and tell your friends!  It's free to sign, and you can hide your name by clicking a little check box so your information is not seen.  Thanks again for your support.