Friday, August 16, 2019

Strokes for Strokes

 A postcard came in the mail inviting me and a guest or guests to a “Strokes for Strokes” paint party for stroke survivors.

I have little artistic talent. When the paint party craze overtook our town about a decade ago, I successfully avoided them for several years. Then our granddaughter’s birthday paint party introduced me to the process.

We joined the other adults and our granddaughter and her friends at a charming backyard cottage repurposed as “Mud Pies and Masterpieces.”

A dozen little girls enthusiastically—and noisily, followed the stroke by stroke instructions and example of the adult who was leading them in creation of Hello Kitty on their canvases.

Although they replicated the Hello Kitty character with varying degrees of precision, all were recognizable.

Once they all completed their final stroke and signed their masterpieces, they moved to the veranda for birthday fare while their paintings dried. 

That birthday party experience dispelled my automatic avoidance of paint parties. Hubby agreed to go with me to the party sponsored by the American Heart Association.

On the designated Saturday we made our way to a spacious lobby in the newly constructed building of a local orthopaedic clinic. Tables filled the space with easels holding 11x14 canvases ready for guests. 

Brinn, paint party entrepreneur
As soon as we were ushered to a table, Brinn, owner of the paint party business booked for the event, asked if we wanted a blank canvas or one of the ones with half a valentine heart that had “petals” around its outer edge. 

Hubby chose blank, I chose heart. 

Brinn was well prepared for individuals with mobility issues like mine. 

“What colors would you like,” she queried. 

“Bold, really bold,” I responded. 

She came back with a Styrofoam plate that had bright blobs of red, turquoise, orange and yellow on it. In no time I was engrossed. I loved coloring books as a child. This was like coloring but more fun. 

Once started, I realized I also wanted pink. When Brinn checked on us, I asked for two additional paints--white and a little black.

Hubby whipped his creation out in a flurry of lines then moved on to what was enticing him more than painting--the refreshment tables loaded with an abundant array of goodies.
Hubby’s masterpiece

Once I finished, I walked around with my rollator, admiring the paintings of other stroke survivors and their guests. It was clear there were experienced, well-trained artists as well as creative, if untrained, folks in the crowd. 

As I returned and was initialing my masterpiece, two of the volunteers were making the rounds with encouraging words. The older one, a retired psychiatrist, gave me a quick analysis of what my color choices said about me—which I can’t remember now. 

Hubby was still sampling the goodies, and I will never know what the psychiatrist would have said about his painting. But I found his painting intriguing. The more I looked at the details I saw that every stroke was purposeful. But if it was a self-portrait, it was definitely a bit creepy.

My fun with paint

The younger volunteer said she really liked the feathers on the bird in my painting. I gave her a polite “Thank you.” 

I refrained from telling her how disappointed I was. I thought I had successfully captured the character of a flashy, deceptive serpent, maybe even the infamous one from the Garden of Eden.

And just that quickly my career as an artist was over! But it was fun for the hour it lasted.


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Local Library Blues

Libraries offer just about something for everyone, and our public library is no exception.

Mississippi bluesman Bill Abel

One of my favorite events was bluesman Bill Abel’s evening program about Mississippi Delta blues music, instruments and history. 

The large meeting room was not a typical venue for blues, but Abel owned it. The soft-spoken, life-long Delta resident is passionate about music, especially the blues. He spiced his study of the work of music historians with his personal experiences with famous Delta bluesmen. 

Abel brought with him an assortment of guitars from his collection, including homemade cigar box guitars typical of those that black sharecroppers of the Mississippi Delta created from materials on hand or available at little or no cost.
Abel on cigar-box guitar
He demonstrated—and entertained—on both. Turns out he is also an excellent teller of tales as well as an accomplished musician. 

His musical tour of the development, rhythms and nuances of Delta blues was a welcomed excursion into new territory for me.

Looking Back: I took the photos in this post a year ago. I was no where near adapting to my iPhone camera. Fuzzy photos and frustration ruled. Frustration still accompanies my one-handed efforts but not as much. Now I'm having fun. Progress!


Friday, August 9, 2019

View from Front Beach

An exercise in joy

August 8 last year a contingent of my coastal Virginia relatives accompanied me on a beach walk during their visit with Hubby and me.

All eight of us savored the view of the sunset as we hiked the paved beach path. 

But the greatest pleasure was being with my brother, my sister-in-law, their two daughters and their spouses, plus my brother’s first grandbaby. 

They stayed with us several days that were filled with catching up, sightseeing, enjoying good food and playing with the little one. 

We only see them about once or twice a year, and my tear ducts definitely worked overtime when we waved goodbye. 

Now I am looking forward to a trip to Virginia that Hubby and I are planning to visit them, but we are waiting until the weather is cooler.