Not so hot, thanks, but getting there

I’m going to post this blog on Facebook and to my email list, in hopes that my friends will sign up to follow my blog, and keep up with my healing process. It’s going to be a longer haul than I’d hoped.

Once more with the lung cancer. Just now I’m emerging from the misery of the  chemotherapy treatment last Wednesday, so I’m feeling hopeful again.

I’ve gone through five sessions of chemotherapy, every three weeks, and my lung tumor has stabilized — but is nowhere near gone. Every chemo session seems to be worse than the last, in terms of nasty side effects. I do still have my hair, though.

For those of you just now being acquainted with my illness, in June I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the lung, thanks to an alert pulmonologist I was seeing for my sleep apnea and asthma. Also visible on the PET scan that confirmed my lung tumor was questionable activity in my left half-ovary (all I have, thanks to a couple of tubal pregnancies in the 1980s). My oncologist felt it important to treat the lung cancer first, with chemotherapy rather than surgery. A blood test he ordered showed that the ovarian activity was very likely (but not absolutely) not ovarian cancer. It could be a metastasis of the lung cancer, or unusual but benign activity. In any case, the chemo treatment protocol they’re using for the lung cancer would be useful on an ovarian cancer as well.

But here I am, at a medical standstill until I see a gynecological oncologist in Syracuse (60 miles up the road) in two weeks. She will most likely remove the ovary for biopsy, and will also check on a suspicious spot on my intestines nearby, shown by the latest CT scan. First I’ll have an ultrasound (what’s this, the third?) and a consult. A week later I’ll have a sixth chemo session, and we’ll see where we go from there depending on the OB/GYN’s recommendation.

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Looking Up

In my last post I wrote about having lung cancer. Since then I’ve had two chemotherapy sessions, 3 weeks apart, and the evidence is that my lung tumor is shrinking. (Also, I don’t have a secondary cancer — yay!)

Side effects from the chemo have been fairly mild — after a session I feel good for a couple of days, then I feel like crap for a week. After that I feel reasonably good, though tired, for a week and a half. Haven’t had any nausea, though I have a bunch of prescription anti-nausea drugs, and my hair hasn’t fallen out. I’m feeling upbeat and positive, and I’m sure I’ll get through this.

I developed a really painful DVT (deep vein thrombosis) a couple of weeks ago — probably as a consequence of tumor shrinkage — but that’s under control now, thanks to yet more drugs.

My family and friends, and especially my sweet husband, are all really supportive, I feel bad about dragging my poor elderly Dad through this — he sits with me and my sweetie through each chemo session, we talk on the phone every day or two, and he drops in for a quick visit most Tuesdays and Thursdays (“How’s my little girl?”). Tomorrow I’m finally going to visit him, for the first time since I’ve been sick.

I couldn’t ask for a better, more supportive and nurturing sweetie than my husband. When I’m well again — I have three more chemo sessions to go — I’ll have to re-learn housework and errand-running! He’s taken it all on himself, and only occasionally gets cranky.

I haven’t been making art, but that’s coming. I dream about it. I sleep a lot.

News

Hi, friends –

Not very good news, I’m afraid – I won’t be able to mount my scheduled show at Cooperative Gallery 213 in August, due to serious health issues.

I have lung cancer (which is ridiculous, since I haven’t smoked in 40-some years) and possibly another cancer as well. The lung cancer is a type that mostly non-smoking women get. I’m having tests, scans, and appointments, and then I’ll be starting chemo on Wednesday. Prognosis is not as good as it was at first – it’s farther along and more widely spread. So everything is up in the air right now: not only shows and exhibits but classes as well.

I have a loving and supportive husband, as well as the rest of my family and my friends. I’m not being too terribly private about this, but hope not to see it go around on social media.

All I ask now is your good and health-giving thoughts — and prayers, if you’re so inclined.

Thanks!

Call for Artists and Fine Crafters – HOLIDAY SHOW AND SALE!

HolidayShownewsl

Dear Art Friend,

Now is the time to join Cooperative Gallery 213 – or to renew your membership – and show/sell your work at the all-members annual Holiday Show and Sale!

Supporting Membership is only $35 per year, payable when you bring in your artwork on Sunday or Monday, November 26 or 27.

Show opens with an Artists’ Reception Gala, Thursday, November 30, and runs through December 23, 2017.

CALENDAR

Notification of intent

Art/Crafts Drop-Off

  • Sunday, November 26, 10 am – 2 pm, Monday, November 27, 4 – 7 pm, or by appointment
  • All work must be labeled and ready for hanging/display. Save time by completing your inventory and membership forms and bringing them to the gallery with your work. See Requirements below.

Artists’ Reception Gala

  • Thursday, November 30, 6 – 8 pm

Art/Crafts Pick-up

  • Saturday, December 23, 4 – 6 pm (AFTER 4 pm show closing)
  • Thursday, December 28, 10 am – 2 pm
  • or by appointment

 

REQUIREMENTS: Labels, inventory

all works: (jewelry, ornaments, cards, miniature paintings, etc.): tag each item with price and an inventory number. Submit a Holiday Show inventory form including corresponding inventory numbers, media, description, and price: download forms at http://www.cooperativegallery,com, or pick up a participant kit at the Gallery during open hours.

wall-hung works: Limit 3 pieces 16 x 20 in. and above, or 5-6 pieces smaller, with two labels attached. Label 1 will be left on the work, and Label 2 will be displayed with the work. Use 14-pt. Arial or Helvetica font, appx. 2 x 3.5” label, listing Title, Medium, Artist Name, and Price.

Cost

  • $35 annual Supporting Membership (if not already a member)
  • plus 20% commission on sales

Download Forms Here, and bring to the gallery with your work

We’re looking forward to seeing you this winter holiday season at Cooperative Gallery 213!

 

Exploring Oil Painting

I’ve got another painting course scheduled – this one is at Your Home Public Library in Johnson City, in October-November. It’s similar to the previous course, but we paint from a still life in the classroom, and get a little further into the whys and wherefores of oil painting.

Information is below, and you can always check the Classes and Workshops page of my website at https://glendablake.com/welcome/classes-and-workshops/

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Exploring Oil Painting
Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., October 30 – November 27, 2017
Your Home Public Library

$15 one-time fee for supplies, for five 3-hour sessions
Enrollment limited to 10 students.
015Explore the fundamentals of oil painting in a fun and informative setting with artist/instructor Glenda Blake. Together we’ll paint from a still life in the classroom, learning as we go about composition, under-painting, light, shadow, and color mixing. If you’ve always wanted to paint in oils, now is the time! If you have painting experience already, come to learn new techniques and paint with others. If you have a portable standing-height floor easel you like, feel free to bring it — sitting-height easels are provided by the instructor. Please wear a work apron, and/or older clothing to paint in.

You MUST attend the first session, and all sessions thereafter if possible. Lessons are sequential; each builds on the previous session. To sign up, stop by the circulation desk at Your Home Public Library, 107 Main Street, Johnson City, NY or contact Natassia Enright at YHPL, 607 797-4816 / jc.natassia@4cls.org.

Feel free to contact me for information about class content.

PLEASE NOTE: The second-floor class space is beautiful, but due to the historic nature of the building there is no elevator.

“Forces of Nature” a Success, I think

Forces of Nature
Forces of Nature, at Cooperative Gallery 213

“Forces of Nature,” my show at Cooperative Gallery 213 with Chuck Haupt, closed on April 29, after a successful run. I have to extend great thanks to Chuck for designing the show card and the back wall, aiming the lights, and being generally proactive and supportive while I was distracted by my mother’s recent death and the need to finish the last two paintings for my half of the show. (Valley Watcher was still a bit wet when I hung it…)

HauptBlake
Chuck Haupt, me… mocking photographer/artist Jean Luongo

 

Prior to the opening, Chuck and I went through two TV interviews and a radio interview. I’m learning how to do those, I think — ask for questions in advance, mentally prepare answers, and make sure the camera angle is flattering — be physically demonstrative, too — but it’s a process.

The Thursday opening was lovely, despite yucky weather — so many old friends and new! My dad came, with a family friend, and I so enjoyed introducing him to various artist friends. My sweetie did his usual splendid job with the food. On the following night, Binghamton’s

My "star" tag
My “star” tag

First Friday Art Walk/Event, a Facebook artist friend, the talented Robert Hoover (who I’d met only once before in person), showed up early with a special starburst nametag for me to wear… and then wept openly in front of River Watcher.

I’ve left the palm tree I bought for the show for the next Cooperative Gallery 213 exhibitors — Bill Gorman and Geof Gould — to use in their show, which promises to be great.

 

Random thoughts on a death in the family

So, to be blunt, my mother is dead. She died a week ago, in Florida, where she and my dad spent their winters from December to April. My three brothers and I flew down to be with her and Dad, all hoping she’d pull out of it again, as she had in several previous crises, but I think mother-ovalwe all knew otherwise. She was 88.

We flew down on Sunday, and early Wednesday morning she died. In between times, she was so delighted that we were all there, as was my dad. We sang to her in four-part harmony, as she died. Yesterday was the funeral and burial, here in upstate New York.

Fortunately for us, she and Dad had made prior arrangements with a funeral director close to home, who took charge of getting Mother’s body back to New York State, and all the logistical stuff we might have had to stumble through. She’s been a great source of advice and comfort. There were only a few decisions to be made.

I’m having some trouble shaking off the numbness– I still haven’t wept whole-heartedly. I’m weary and sad and scatter-brained. My youngest brother and I are keeping Dad company in turn, but he also cherishes his alone time. He heads back to Florida in a couple of weeks, to meet my nephew and clean out the double-wide mobile home “unit” he and Mother owned in Florida.

I’m beginning to miss her. I hated the make-up job the undertaker did on her. We had a few good years together, just enjoying one another’s company. She would not have approved of the funeral service starting late, but that was due to the number of people who came to pay their respects. The church was filled. She was widely loved and respected.

Upcoming Drawing and Painting Classes at local libraries

libraries

I’ve got some classes scheduled at both Your Home Public Library, Johnson City NY (YHPL), and Broome County Public Library, Binghamton NY (BCPL).

All courses consist of five 3-hour weekly sessions, and attendance is required at the first session of each. Find details and registration information on all on my Classes and Workshops page.

NEW – Fundamentals of Drawing: How to See Like an Artist, at BCPL. Based on ideas and exercises from “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, “The Zen of Seeing” by Frederick Franck, and my own experience, this course will help you with rendering 3-D objects in 2-D by learning to SEE like an artist, to draw what you actually see rather than what you think you see. It can also help you with the two painting courses below. Thursdays, 5-8:00 p.m., January 12 through February 9, 2017 – no cost.

Exploring Oil Painting, at YHPL. Using methods and techniques from my own experience and “Still Life Painting Atelier” by Michael Friel, this course guides you through the process of making a studio-based still life painting from life, from composition and underpainting through finishing touches. By request, the still life this time will consist of all glass objects: a fun challenge! Mondays, 1-4:00 p.m., March 20 – April 17, 2017 — $15 supply fee covers all five sessions.

Oil Painting from Altered Photographs, at BCPL. Learn to see your photos differently, how to make them more suitable for oil painting references, and how to enlarge the resulting composition onto your canvas panel using the grid method. Then paint your composition, from underpainting through finishing touches. I utilize methods from “Creative Painting from Photographs,” by Rudy de Reyna, and my own work to illustrate and guide you in using your own photos. Painting materials are supplied at no cost; participants bring a list of low-cost items from a list supplied at registration (also at my Classes and Workshops page as part of the course description). Thursdays, 5-8:00 p.m., May 18 – June 15, 2017

I love teaching these classes — we have a lot of fun. Kudos to both libraries for offering them to the public. Hope you’ll join me!

Inspiration, impetus, or … just making art

Inspiration is for amateurs
::: inspiration: noun in·spi·ra·tion \ˌin(t)-spə-ˈrā-shən\  1. something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone  2. a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something  3. a good idea ::: impetus : noun im·pe·tus \ˈim-pə-təs\ 1. a force that causes something (such as a process or activity) to be done or to become more active 2. a force that causes an object to begin moving or to continue to move  / Merriam Webster Dictionary

I’m a great adherent of Chuck Close’s declaration that “inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” There’s more to that quote, about the work producing the direction, and how you won’t get much done if you wait for inspiration. I don’t know; maybe that’s a purist’s point of view, and maybe I’m too old to become a purist. But I’ve been in a slump for months, now, and not painting much at all (except for the demo piece for my last painting class, and that was dreadful). I’ve been meaning to sew — an art I also love — but not doing that either. Meaning to clean up my office and studio, getting a bit done but not much, and of course, meaning to paint. But not. Even meaning to doodle and sketch, for pity’s sake, but not doing much of that either. I’ve been reading, mostly. Reading good stuff — mostly Margaret Drabble — but not painting with any will.

IMG_8411sm
Breakfast at the Roycroft Inn

However. A couple of weeks ago on a Sunday, Sweetie celebrated my 65th birthday by taking me on a rural New York State ramble, unbooked, unplanned, heading roughly in the direction of Niagara Falls via secondary roads. The weather was perfect, the scenery beautiful — I’m sorry I took so few photos! Stops at the Glen Curtiss Museum, a stay in Brockport, a brief excursion past the falls in Canada, a stay at the wonderful Roycroft Inn (and campus), and finally, a long stop at the amazing Corning Museum of Glass, before heading for home under the threat of thunderstorms… so refreshing.

Bronze statue of Artemis and a deer - Greek or Roman, Late Hellenistic or early Imperial, 1st cent. BC or 1st cent. AD
Bronze statue of Artemis and a deer – Greek or Roman, Late Hellenistic or early Imperial, 1st cent. BC or 1st cent. AD – Metropolitan Museum of Art

The following Saturday, I got on a bus for NYC with a group from the Fine Arts Society of the Southern Tier, and spent a fabulous day in the City looking at great art with fine companions — including a visit to the Met’s John Singer Sargent collection and the Artemis/Diana bronze (which is the basis of my current painting, Moon Watcher).

And I’ve had this bunch of lovely new-to-me paints, given me out of the blue by a colleague, just waiting to get into a real painting instead of minor dabbling…

So: was it inspiration that got me painting again? Or impetus? Is there a difference? Would Chuck Close see one? I kinda think not, but that’s the way that cookie crumbles. I’m just happy to be working again.