Prelude to Earth


The place I grew up was heavily wooded. It offered a place to escape, play, build forts and feel free. I had a route that I followed through the woods. In the winter it led to a frozen swamp that I skated on. In the summer I went to an outcropping of huge rocks that tilted towards each other to make a cave. It was one of my many secret retreats. I would always leave something in the cave like a button or ribbon. When I came back the next day it would be gone! Someone, animal or person was taking my cave offerings! Pretty sure it wasn’t a person.

This doesn’t look exactly like my cave but it’s close. Plus I can’t really remember seeing any purple trees in upstate NY. http://sales.penzart.com

All the Way Down to Earth


I THOUGHT the choice of grocery store was “today’s challenge.” You see, I shop for my 99 year old mother a few times a week. She has her favorite store where she knows all the brands. She’s 99and get whatever she wants, even though I’m not a fan of the store.

                So, with list in hand, I walk into “that” store and pick up her huge bag of oranges. She eats tons of them; maybe that’s her secret to longevity. Also on her list: eggs and ice cream. And even though it’s not my favorite store,  I thought I might as well pick up the sponges since they were on sale. Wait a minute!  They have sparkling water in glass bottles on sale! I stuff four bottles that clink noisily in my cart. Add one avocado, and now I’m fully engaged in the shopping trip.

                I paid for mom’s first, which fit into one plastic bag and then paid for mine which stuffed a large canvas tote. Trudging out to the car with my slightly off balanced bags, I was thinking random thoughts like: I can’t believe I found stuff at this store! And, it’s a bit chilly. I looked at the sky to see the beginnings of a storm. The thoughts continued, maybe I’ll be able to make it to the wine store and home before it really starts to pour, the sky, that is, not the wine. Glad I wore my waterproof hiking boots, wool leggings and velour dress. If it does start to rain I’ll be warm and ready!

                With that last thought, I felt the shoelace on my left boot snag one of the lace hooks on the right boot. “Sh**t!” I yelled cursing as I was going down. My knee hurt or was it my hip, or both? I didn’t want to get up. It was kind of nice down there on the pavement and I wasn’t done swearing yet. Good thing I had my mask on because it slowed down the flying expletives, but not much!

Me

                A little grey haired old lady came to my rescue. She helped me get up and collect my groceries. Damages? First, my favorite wool leggings were torn at the knee – very unhappy about that. Mom’s huge bag of oranges – only one was split open! But the eggs! Why is it always about the eggs? How is it that the avocado and the glass bottles went up in the air and landed with nothing squashed or broken? But the eggs? Half the box was oozing yellow. Omelets,  anyone? If I wasn’t hurting so much, I’d still be on the ground laughing. Of course I fell while carrying eggs, of course! Eggs, meet earth. Earth meet…you know the rest. I was a walking, tripping cliché!

                The little old lady quickly grabbed the bag with what was left of the eggs and ran inside. “They’ll replace them!” she shouted. “I’ll be right back.” Wow, hooray for little old ladies! I’m going to be like her when I grow up!

                Lesson learned from this event – How about, tie my shoe laces? The store wasn’t so bad after all.

Kitty-Cat for Kids


I saw one of my neighbors walking her dog. We stopped to chat and she said she was engaged to be married and that they had bought a place in the city. It was so sweet. We talked about her moving on and becoming an adult. I thought about my life as I draw little kitty-cats on a stone wall talking to the moon. Am I un-adulting? Do we revert, getting mentally younger as we age? Will I be going all the way back to finger painting and crayons? This drawing and several others are from a children’s story I wrote recently about a cat that worries she’s losing her home and her best friend the moon, only to be surprised by how it all works out in the end. Hopefully I can get all the drawings done soon! They’ve become cards for sale on my site. sales.penzart.com

Wabi-Sabi


Yes, a little corner of the paper it torn, the paint comes over the edge, and my corners aren’t square. I’ve always had trouble with perfection. Perfection requires patience, which apparently I don’t have 🙂 Having said that, how can there be life with no cracks, torn corners or smudges? It’s unnatural. So the question is, do I just not have the right amount of skill, talent or control over my art? Maybe I’m making excuses for not being good enough to pull off a perfect piece of art. Or do I like imperfection, like the philosophy of Wabi-Sabi?  It’s probably a combination. It might be time to explore this more deeply.   This is a painting on mat board sales.penzart.com

This is an unframed botanical watercolor, acrylic and colored pencil painting. It is floating on an 8×10 mat board.

Which Medium Will Do


I wrote a sweet little children’s book and am trying to decide what medium and style to use. It would be nice if the backgrounds didn’t overwhelm the main character – a cat. I’ve tried pen and ink and it was just a little too boring for a kids book for this particular story. Colored pencil mixed with graphite has captured my interest lately but I’m not totally convinced. Without knowing the story I can’t really ask for thoughts but I’d thought I’d share what I’ve been working on.

Connected


I made this card thinking about valentines day. I reflected on what that first dizzying few years felt like. It was floating in our own orbit, not much mattered but the magnetic pull between us. Even with rough times the pull was, and I guess, continues. This picture could also be I the last picture in my book the Glass Bottle. sales.penzart.com

Open To You


Another card entry with description @ sales.penzart.com

For decades I was lost in my own head trying to figure out what life was all about. Why was it so difficult, and why don’t I feel like I belong?  After a lot of reading and tons of meditation I figured it out! It’s all about opening up the heart chakra. Really! When that one piece is open the world opens. I found I didn’t have to struggle as much with judgmental relationships. As it turns out I was the one judging. Opening the heart allowed me to go with the flow and just live in a gentler place.

What Love Is To Me


Love should be an easy thing to write about, but it has so many moving parts. Our marriage has been pretty steady over the past 18 years, but it’s a balancing act on a roller coast all in slow motion. It’s subtle. Weird sneaks up out of nowhere and then dissolves with a laugh, a talk, or a walk in the woods. As soon as we can focus on each other for a few minutes, all the feelings of safety and warmth comes flooding back.

Art with a Reason


This one painting has gotten so much attention that I thought I post it on my sales website and share the story behind it. This is what’s written in the description of the painting. sales.penzart.com

A whimsical painting if crows had a bar. I imagined my own experience at bars and night clubs (many decades ago). As an introvert I’m usually observing. Expressions, body language and big gestures were fascinating to me. This started with a small soft sculpture of three crows on a branch. On the branch are martini glasses and beer bottles. Eventually it turned into a painting. The outer frame is roughly 23″ x 19

Crane on Paper


Birds have always fascinated me. When I was about three or four years old I very clearly remember asking my mother when I would get wings so that I could fly. She said she was sorry but people don’t get wings. I thought to myself what use is a body that can’t fly? I asked her if I could get rid of this body that felt like a lead weight and get a body with wings. She was not at all happy with that idea. I was crushed.

sales.penzart.com

Adding Memories to Art Site


I’m slowly adding small paragraphs to each of my paintings and cards on my sales site. ( sales.penzart.com ). For instance here is a painting and what I said about it in the description. Sometimes I’ll add something to the description that I remembered, so it’s evolving and yes I need an editor. In the meantime, here is the card and the description that goes along with it. 

My older brother once made a holiday card that was elegant and sweet. It was a branch of a Christmas tree with an ornament on the ground and bird tracks surrounding the ornament. You never saw the bird just his tracks. I keep trying to duplicate the simplicity and beauty of that card. He also drew a candle monster. I was about five years old and knew from that drawing that I needed to create images that came to life like his always seemed to.

 

Might’s’Well Day


August 27th. That’s s Might’s’Well Day. Never heard of it? It started about 40 years ago, fourteen miles off the coast of Maine, on an island, on top of a mountain, in a cabin. Max and I started it that day as we lazed around watching the sky for eagles and the ocean for seals. “Should we go down to the water and get some mussels for later?” I asked.

“Might’s’well,” was Max’s answer.

You can guess where this is going. With every adventure and question asked or suggested, the answer was the same.

“Let’s jump the rocks (huge boulders line the coast)!” I said with bucket in hand to get the mussels.

“Might’s’well.” Max said in his casual, hippy way.

“Go swimming, have lunch, take a nap, walk to the quarry?” All questions were answered the same way. By the end of the day it became official. Somehow through all the years, no matter where we are, August 27th remained “Might’s’Well Day!

Just ask any question on that day and see what response you get.

The New More Odoriferous Me


Can I tell you a thrilling aspect of corona induced isolation that you might not have considered?

Two pieces of background you need to understand the thrill. First, you have to know that for decades I’ve worked as makeup artist in film and television. Second, to understand my perspective you would either have to be a woman, a tv reporter, tv correspondent, an actor, or a television pundit.

Ladies first: Have you ever gotten your makeup done at a department store and your artist smelled like he or she had eaten a pile of Roquefort cheese from the compost pile? No. The answer is no you have not! They are a scrubbed cleaned and polished lot, always hyper aware of their personal hygiene, their appearance, smile, and whether there is any possibility of emitting offensive odors. It’s a thing. This is for obvious reasons especially so we don’t turn off any current or potential clients because of a slight miscalculation from a night of pungent odor producing debauchery. Before work it’s an intense workout of showering, and the heavy lifting all the various personal cleaning products needed for the kind of clean, freshness required to be in close proximity with others.

So imagine this; for the last 40 some years in tv and film I was one of those conscientious stylists. Out of respect for my guests (sometimes called victims – playfully of course) I wouldn’t eat garlic for dinner the night before or heaven forbid at lunch during a shoot! And if I did happen to eat the pungent herb(bulb, vegetable?) during the week, or a Sunday night, I would apologize profusely the next day as I did someone’s makeup at arm’s length (hard to do). I’d lightheartedly say, “I’m sorry, pardon my garlic hang-over.” They would laugh and say: oh I don’t smell a thing, but that would be because I would be holding my breath in between eyelash applications.

Now for the first time in decades because of isolation, I am using far less products, mostly just soap, shampoo, modest amounts of deodorant and…fanfare please…I can freely eat as much garlic as I want!!! I’m so excited for the first time in years I can really reek and I don’t have to apologize!!!  

I never thought about this before but now I can eat garlic anytime I want because of current mask-wearing-etiquette. My clients will think I’m just being politically correct! Genius, thank you covid 19, you just made a huge change in my life, that is if I ever get my job back.

The Pimple and the Plague


A weird thing has been happening since staying home to avoid the corona virus. In my effort to not angst about the spread, I’ve strangely stopped caring too much about my appearance, maybe just to have one less thing to worry about. This might be partially fueled by the giant pimples I keep getting at the end of my nose. One goes away and another appears. What’s up with that? Who did I wrong in a past life to get end-of-nose-pimples at age 63? Continue reading

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?


It all began on a farm hundreds of years ago miles from town. There was the farmer, his barn and workshop, the chicken coop, and his chickens.

One cloudy day in the summer while feeding the chickens, the farmer looked at the sky and said, “Glad it’s going to rain today, the fields are dry.”

One chicken heard the farmer and was taken with the sound of his voice. She cooed and clucked along as the farmer spoke. Indeed, she loved the sounds of the farmer’s voice so much that from then on, she would travel from the hen house each morning to the farmer’s house just to hear the farmer talk about the weather.

The farmer enjoyed the routine too. Each morning he’d go outside, and wait for the chicken to make her way from the hen house. It was quite a distance, but she made it every day. The farmer would then talk about the weather and the chicken would coo and cluck along.  After the weather report the chicken would make her way back to the hen house where she would go about her daily job of pecking and cleaning.

After so many years of this routine, a very clear path was worn from the hen house to the farmer’s house. When the farmer went to get the eggs each morning, he would also use the chicken’s path, and eventually the path became the main trail leading past the barn to the hen house.

Eventually, other families joined the farmer each bringing their own skills. One family rented the farmer’s workshop to fix wagons, and with time, the wagon repair shop became the busiest part of the farm. The wagons would roll up to the workshop just behind the main house. Once repaired, the wagons pulled passed the front of the farmer’s house and went on their way back to town. Eventually, a path even larger than the chicken’s path was created around the farm house by the wagons. That path soon became the main road running through the property. With wagons going this way and that, it was clearly the wagon’s road that crossed right over the chicken’s path, not the other way around!

So you see, the question “Why did the chicken cross the road?” should never have been asked.  After all, it was the road that crossed the chicken’s path. All this time the chicken has been wrongly flagged. It’s a classic example of prejudicial gender targeting and ethnic profiling! If it had been a rooster’s path, there never would have been a road in the first place. The wagons would have been re-directed by the rooster with a toll collected by the hens. The rooster crowing at the top of his lungs, would then declare himself an expert urban planner and get paid double whatever measly sum the chicken gets paid.

Riddle solved!

Kids Book #3


This book is an easy reader. I really don’t know if they are any good or not but I loved doing it! My stories don’t have a lot of conflict and definitely no violence. They are just for fun. I think my excitement at finishing this one is with the illustrations. I’m beginning to feel a little more competent as an illustrator. It doesn’t come easily for me but here we go!

Amazon has them:

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=penny+ross+burk&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Lessons From the Art Studio Tour


I’m so honored when friends stop in to support me at the art show and say hello. But boy am I uncomfortable selling my art to them. Don’t you give stuff to friends? I love my friends and want to give to them, not take their money. . It’s the way I give gifts, which I don’t otherwise give. I really suck at gift giving. So this is really perfect…isn’t it? They pick out what they like, I give it to them – everyone’s happy!! When I explain that, the thought and sentiment behind it, is brushed off.

Then to top it off I had one young lady fall in love with a painting. When she asked how much I wanted for it she lost it. “That’s too low!” she gasped “It should be at least double what you have marked here!” …and then proceeded to pay the lower price. ( -.- shrugg). oh well.

Okay big lesson – add ten dollars to each tag. ok, $20. but that’s as high as I’ll go!

The top picture and at the bottom of the other pic, is a new little kids book I’m working on. It’s about an Ant and an Elephant. Before it’s even done I’ve gotten some interest. Actually someone wanted to buy that unfinished little sketch book. Wohoo! They also like the one about the seagull that gets kicked out of Bologna cartel. He then gets a kid to help flood the market with bolgna to ruin his former comrades. Once that’s done, he starts a new gang that seeks out and hords peanut butter….something like that.

Coati and flowers in CR


We are staying in hotel with casitas. Each casita has huge sliding glass doors that lead to a little plunge pool.

We decided the air and temperature was so delightful at night that we wanted to leave those doors wide open. In the middle of the night I heard something and saw the tail of a rather large animal jumping down from the kitchen counter. I woke my husband and with two small flashlights we searched the villa. We saw and heard nothing further and decided I must have been dreaming.

However, the next morning I noticed crystal powder on the floor leading out to the pool. Sugar? Then saw a tea bag(brought from home) that was in the sink but there should have been two more. There on the counter was the second. It had been gnawed open with tea sprinkled around as if it exploded. I still haven’t found the third tea bag.

Finally we noticed our two bananas were gone. The peels were left by the pool. One to the right of the pool and one to left. It must have been a party!We were told it had been raccoons or coati. Apparently they can open the refrigerator door if they think there’s something good in there.

In my silly mind, I wondered if we closed the door tonight, will they knock to be let in?

Anyway, the sun was just right for picture taking.

The Swim


Just a thought….

ar5a0290

Going For The Bold


I’m not sure when I saw them for the first time. I must have been 12 years old. I believe Mick Jagger was on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964, so it must have been soon after that I saw pictures of Jagger wearing really bold stripped pants.  Iconic image, right?

For me, those pants became the foundation of a self-analyzing psychology. I was hooked on the music, the look, the whole free artistic lifestyle. Sex, drugs and stripped pants! In my young mind, that one article of clothing signified all those things.wpid-20150804_163409-1.jpg Continue reading

Ablaze or Burnout?


Burnout! In fact, I am going to strangle the next person that uses the word “amazing.” I was watching a television show and in every sentence, that word was used. I counted 17 “amazings.”

I think words need to have an expiration date on them. The weird thing is that there are just a few words that we have massively overused and have been stuck on for a while now. Continue reading