Saturday, July 30, 2011

Summer Reading

Summer you aim for light, romantic reading or thought provoking novels?  I am one of people who likes to read a little bit of everything, and managed to get thru a good pile of interesting books this summer.

(I know what you are's AUGUST! Summer isn't over YET!  I'm basing this on my kids' school schedule...they head back to class next week, meaning our summer break is over!)

Some of my picks are random, meaning I found them for 50 cents at the SPCA thrift shop.  Joyce Carol Oates (who I have read before and really enjoyed) "We Were the Mulvaneys" was a great find, and a very thought-provoking novel on family dynamics and the predicament that some mother's may face, although maybe not in such dramatic fashion - stand by your children, or stand by your husband?

"Bee Season" by Myla Goldberg was also an interesting study of family, with each individuals quest to find their place - within their family, and within a religion.  The study of language was fascinating, and an excellent illustration of how studying one subject (an intense study of letters) can lead you to understand so much more.

A tragic romance has to show up every once in a while, in this case a story of teenage lovers who have know each other since birth.  "The Pact" by Jodi Picoult is an easy read, but one of frustration, and also one that brought a lot of fear to me, as a mother of a little girl.  We can hope that our daughters will always come to us in their time of need, but this is a tragic example of a young girl who felt so alone, even when surrounded by those who love her.

Ebay is also a great source for bargain books, and I scored three excellent reads for under $10 (this is one reason why I am very hesitant to buy an e-reader like the Nook or the Kindle...I love a great deal on a great book!)  

A friend had recommended "The Book Thief" by Zusak so my hunt started there.  This was a beautiful book, written by a unique perspective (one I do not want to spoil for you).  Like many other powerful books I have read, this is in the middle of the Nazi horror, and focuses on a young girl who marks significant moments in her life with stolen books.  The writing is inspirational, especially for me as an Artist who dreams in color.  The lines describing the sky, for example "the sun was the color of breakfast", were descriptive without sounding pretentious.  I highly recommend this book!

Of course once I started hunting for one book a couple others popped up who I had heard about but not yet read.   One was Jon Krakauer's "Into the Wild", which was made into a movie (haven't seen it yet!)  The writer smartly used his own experiences and emotions to bring validity to his theories on the motivations and mindset of the main character, Christoper McCandless.  There were also wonderful quotes throughout the book from various authors, and several of these passages inspire me to read more by those quoted authors.  As an artist, too, many of the struggles presented of the main character rang true to me (not that he was an artist) including the desire for solitude and a need for personal space.  Of course, I was reading this in the middle of summer break, when I didn't even get time alone in the bathroom, let alone my you could see where I would also want to escape to Alaska...

Finally I cam across another familiar title, "The Namesake", by Jhumpa Lahiri.  I found this to be a very enjoyable read, but one that really left me wanting more.  More insight into the character's motivations, more resolution to conflict, more passion in their convictions.  That's the Italian in me speaking.  But I did love the way Lahiri shared so much about the culture and their traditions, and the struggle of finding your own way while still honoring the place you came from.  

So 6 great reads for $11.50.  Not bad :)  My goal is to let my kids see me read actual books as much as possible.  I want something to be technology free!  I also love the process of going to a library or a shop and flipping thru the pages, reading the covers, checking out the feel, heftiness of a book. 

What are you reading this summer?  And are you reading it the old fashioned way or on a electronic reader of some kind?  Please share!  I'm always looking for my next great read!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Recent Portraits in Watercolor and Oil

The summer has been going by so quickly.  Somewhere among the days on the beach, the trips to visit family, and the never ending quest to achieve a clean home while the children follow behind me making it messy again, I managed to send out a few commissioned portraits.

Two brothers, created in watercolor on mounted watercolor paper, 16" x 20" each.

Both boys have long hair and sweet faces.  I decided to down-play the hairstyles and focus on their facial features.

Dark and sensuous portrait based on a photo at dinner...Oil on panel, 12" x 16.

 I love the setting, the moment where she looks across the table at her companion...