Monday, December 18, 2006

A day I didn't believe was real.

I feel as if I need to post actual pictures of what I saw this past weekend. I wanted to just post my watercolors, but as I started to put together this most unfortunate blog, I realized how unreal this whole event was. I hardly believed it myself, and I was there.

At the memorial mass of Captain Jason R. Hamill, there was a group of protesters. This did not surprise me, but the nature of their protest did. As I walked to the road, I saw what was written on their signs and I couldn't believe what I saw: "God Hates Your Tears", "Fags Doom Nations", and "The Only Good Soldier is a Dead Soldier", among other nasty sentiments. They stood there, singing the most awful songs, screaming the most hateful chants. Who were these people? Why did they come?

As I stood there, in awe, cop approached me.

"I'm just looking," I said.

"Are you related?" he asked.

"No I knew his brother."

I tried to say "this is awful," but instead I burst into tears.

The cop told me he was in the marines for 10 years, and his son was in Iraq. He was pretty upset too. I tried to say something, but instead, I hugged him, sobbing. To my surprise, he hugged me back. An act of defiance.

There was also a group of High School kids, standing with a big flag and signs that said "Peace" and "Love Our Troops". I thought they were cute and idealistic. I remember feeling like I too could change the world. I stood next to them, waiting to see the motorcycles. I knew they were coming and I wanted to see.

They came like a thunder storm, and for a few minutes, the sound of about 100 motorcycles drowned out the awful chants and songs. They parked their bikes and stood around the entrance. They called themselves the Patriot Guard Riders.

I walked up to them and asked them where they were from. Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, they came from all around to deflect these awful people. They were a tough looking bunch, all in leather, some missing limbs (probably from Vietnam). I wasn't afraid of them though. I thanked them for coming. I then walked down to the Memorial Mass. This is what I saw on my way down the driveway:

I sat through the mass, my mind racing. I decided to paint some pictures. I hurried through them for the next couple of days. There has been an urgency about this whole group of paintings. I needed to finish them fast, and put them behind me. Can you tell it's been a a while since I've painted with watercolors?

Here they are:

By the way, if you'd like to know more about the protesters across the street, I will be happy to send you a link, just send me an email (put "protesters" as the subject). I will only reply to people I already know. I chose not to mention the name of the protesters on my blog, for fear of harassment - they are a nasty bunch, and I don't know if they seek out web pages that mention their name.

Also, here's the website of the Patriot Guard Riders: www.patriotguard.org - they'll come to any funeral they're invited to.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

A drive around Lebanon

Inspiration is fleeting. Especially when there are distractions in life, pulling me away from making art, causing me to pace around the house like a caged lioness instead of sitting and focusing.

I've been wasting most of my day, nervous and upset, debating whether or not to go to an acquaintance's funereal this weekend. I barely knew him, my sister was friends with his twin brother. He died in Iraq, a roadside bomb, on his way to go home. I'm sick to my stomach.

I decided to take a drive around town, and visit the places that sooth me. I took pictures. I really don't know what else to write, this all seems so pointless, but here's they are:

There is an oak tree in Lebanon, CT, that used to have a metal yellow ribbon tied around it. It was put up five years ago. Now, all that's left is a small piece of metal and a dark band across the tree's trunk. After five years, the tree outgrew it

I think there was a purple ghost following me around today. It kept showing up in my pictures. This is a three-way stop. I really don't know why I like it.

There are a lot of pretty views of Pride's Corner Farms around town. The hundreds of greenhouses look like snow on the hills. There are thousands of plants in that place: azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples, andromeda, dwarf alberta spruce, naming the plants somehow helps, I think...

I've almost hit that tree many times while driving too fast. It's always full of crows. I think they like to look out at the corn.

The corn is all done for the year. I can't believe, in the middle of December, how green the grass still is...

Over the hill, among the power lines, there is a dirt farm. Yes, they do actually exist.

I don't know what business this is. Maybe an orchard. I think it is both funny and sad that they're closed this season due to poor pollination. Farming is a fleeting and difficult profession. I respect it.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Happy Holidays! (The Making of Mr. Fish)

About 5 years ago, I caught my first bass. It was a tiny bass, just a baby, and it had a big chunk on his back missing (a long-since healed battle wound probably from a snapping turtle). I looked at its ridiculous face, huge, gaping mouth, fat, portly body and thought, "you're the cutest fish ever!"

I threw it back, and cast again. I wanted to see another one.

"Mr.Fish" is no particular fish, he actually seems a little whale-like. But he is a fish (I didn't draw lungs, did I?) and in this case, he's cold. As am I.

Here is an over-wordy description of how I painted it.

Each painting I make starts with a pencil sketch. I start with light pencil lines, building up to darker, more definitive lines, and then traced over with black pen (to show the sketch who's the boss). I then transfer the drawing to my painting surface (usually bristol board, but in this case, canvas board).

I then paint a ground onto my painting surface (fancy term for painting the board all one color). I chose lemon yellow for this ground.

Once I have a ground down, I can start to paint. I chose a color triad this time: blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange. I start with the background first, working my way towards the foreground.

Once all of the basic color, shadows, and highlights are down, I create deeper shadows and slight outlines on, and around the fish. I use a pre-made mixture made of blue and brown, watered down.

This is the final result. I left out the ice fisherman from the original sketch. I decided I didn't need him. Sorry, man.

I got more work online! www.portfolios.com/nancymichaud

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

And now, for something completely different...

It has been a long while since I've posted something new. I have been in a sort of suspended animation, carefully planning and thinking out my next project: my first paying illustration job! Gasp...

I wanted to post a few of the thumbnails I've done, I am about spring upon the real meat of the project: final sketches and paintings. So I guess this is all a tease, a teensy preview of what's to come.

In future entries, I'll show some artwork that's further along, and write more about the book itself.

Here's a link to my (first) client's website (and yes, she is aware of this blog).