Tuesday, July 26, 2011

P-doobie takes oil painting

I am taking an 8-week oil painting class for three hours every Tuesday. In the first session we painted a lemon. I was happy because it was recognizable as one of the edibilia. We also made a color chart. Last week we did a still life with geraniums, and the less said about that, the better.

This week we did a value study, a study of the lightness and darkness of a color independent of its hue and colorfulness.

Our first step was to do a thumbnail sketch with charcoal to show the areas of light, dark, and in between. Here is my thumbnail sketch of the still life with three plums, teapot, and vase.

Then we used the thumbnail and transferred it to the canvas with charcoal. When you make a mistake, it's easy to rub it out. Do not blow away the crumbs, because the whole drawing will disappear; I learned that the hard way. When the drawing was on the canvas, I sprayed it with fixative.

Next I used burnt umber: pure pigment and mixed with white in several tints. Then, working from the thumbnail and the still life itself, I worked on a monochromatic value study. It's a work in progress, and I haven't finished it.

I have also discovered that I paint like dad used to eat red chile. "Dad, you have chile on your neck." Even wearing gloves and an apron, I manage to get paint on my elbows.

Oil painting is hard work.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Please stay on the line. Your call is very important. I'll be back in three weeks.

After we were "repopulated" from the Las Conchas Fire, we learned that we could get short-term, interest-free loans from our local banks (well, there's interest, but the Los Alamos Commerce and Development Corporation will pick it up). I went to our local bank this morning to find out how to get my paws on some cash, because in any retail operation, and particularly in the bookselling biz, an 8-day closure and a crummy economy are a dangerous cocktail.

I went to the customer service desk at the bank and was directed to the second floor. A sweet young thing on the second floor asked if she could help me, and I asked about the loans. She said, "Yes, I'm going to give you the phone number and email of Ernie Feckless [not his real name], who is the loan officer for the short-term loans. Let me get his phone number for you." She pecked away at her keyboard and stared intently at the monitor. She fished a card out of her desk and carefully copied what was on the screen to the card, looking back and forth from the screen to the card between each character. I wondered whether there was a psychotropic reason for her ability to go for more than five minutes without blinking. Her eyes were red, after all. Of course everyone's eyes are red from the smoke. But still.

"Now this is his phone number at the downtown office."

"Is this not the downtown office?" I asked.

"No," she explained. "This is the Los Alamos office. The downtown office is in Santa Fe." Oh. The bank has the words "Los Alamos" in its name, so I guess that's why I was confused.

I asked, "Is there someone here in the Los Alamos office who could help me?"

She said, "No, Ernie Feckless is the only one who is authorized to handle these loans. You'll have to call him at the downtown office and make an appointment."

I said, "You have only one person who is taking care of all these special loans for business losses in Los Alamos, and he's in Santa Fe? That doesn't make a great deal of sense."

She gave me the card and an I-just-work-here look. Fortunately, I was not heavily armed, and in possession of superior impulse control.

So I went back to the bookstore and called Ernie. I got his voicemail. "This is Ernie Feckless. I will be out of the office for two weeks, from July 11 through July 25." At that point I was ready to get a two-by-four, find the bank president, and commence to beatin'.

But I hung up, took some deep, cleansing breaths, and tried again. "If you need help, leave a message or send me an email. I'll check both occasionally." The word occasionally did not bode well for me. I hung up again. A brisk walk around the building and I was ready to call again. "If you need help right away, call my assistant Vangie Hapless at the following number."

So I called Vangie. She was out of the office or on another line, but my call was very important to her. I left her a message.

Trying to salvage the morning, I decided to call our insurance agent, who is handling the claim for losses from a business interruption. I got her voicemail.

Some days it's best just to cut your losses and go to lunch.