Friday, November 16, 2012

In Praise of Frumpiness

      This is not about art or the woods, but I feel compelled to defend the right of women of a certain age to be frumpy.  Because of General Petraeus's dalliance with an extremely toned woman twenty years his junior, a focus has formed (okay, it is not a focus, it is background imagery) on the General's wife. People are blabbing on about how she looks like she does not care. Does Not Care!! How could anyone think that? To me she looks like a woman who has risen to her duties. She works hard for the Wounded Warrier program. She has raised two children, who appear to have turned out quite well. This she has done while her husband has been called to distant wars; it is not like he was home by 7 pm every evening to help out. She is even shown smiling in the presence of Jill Kelley (that must take effort.)  Mrs. Petraeus's hair is always neat and her clothes reasonable and coordinated. What more do people want?

      These days, apparently, more: it is a woman's moral duty to look sexually available to any man of a superior status. But what benefit would this be to Mrs. Petraeus? Would she go after the Commander in Chief? (Not a good idea, with Mrs. Obama's toned arms!) So okay, the real thought is that Mrs. Petraeus should work harder to be alluring to her husband. I disagree, I think the General owes his wife big-time, because she has made him look even better with her efforts on his behalf.  Meanwhile, what has Mrs. Broadwell gained by giving in to social pressure? What is the big benefit of her snagging General Petraeus? What has this act done for anyone? It is not as if we have a dearth of humanity and men need to get out there and populate. It might be a good idea for men to evolve a bit. I sure hope her book is worthwhile and not just an awesome or awesomer? tome. And what benefit is her much ballyhooed 13% body fat to the world, or even to the super lean Mrs. Broadwell herself? I doubt much.

     What the world does need is more frumpy women, working for the good of all. And after a frustrating day, dealing with idiots, a good work out can do a body good!

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Efficient Complexity of Nature

American Moss at Floracliff
On a very warm Saturday in November, I partook in the Long Hike at Floracliff. We climbed and strolled over 4 to 5 miles within the nature sanctuary. While striding over the terrain, I felt like a giant because of all the ecosystems beneath my feet, a feeling I have become sensitive to because of a richly informative book: The Forest Unseen, by David George Haskell.  Haskell is a professor of biology at the University of the South. He spent a year closely studying a square meter of earth in the forest surrounding Sewanee. The scene, though minute is mind-bogglingly complex. It is an insect-eat-everything world! The birds are eating the insects. Who eats whom might determine how far you can travel as a species. Moss has peculiar qualities that allow it to survive deluge and drought. Throughout, there is an enthralling description of light. Fortunately, Professor Haskell breaks it all down into manageable bites, with timely consideration throughout his year of observation. I am only up to September 23rd--Vulture, the book begins January 1st. This is a remarkable story of how everything is interconnected and in a fairly efficient, often surprising way. The author's perceptive abilities are simply amazing. I highly recommend this book.

         I was reflecting on this elaborate tapestry of flora and fauna. It made me realize why I enjoy layering media to make paintings. It is sympathetic to the layers of life that make up the forest. The natural properties of watercolor pigments interacting with the paper create a rich underpinning that is hard to create deliberately. The pastel on top has a complementary role, skimming the surface, deepening the texture. No wonder my landscape painting took off after I began to combine watercolor and pastel in my painting. Perhaps you would like to give it a go. I will be starting a new Experimenting with Watercolor and Pastel class early in 2013. Stay tuned!

The Forest Unseen: A Year's Watch in Nature, by David George Haskell, Penguin Group,  2012

Grounded, watercolor/pastel
Lichen is one of the first subjects of The Forest Unseen
For information about my upcoming watercolor and pastel classes and information about happenings at the M S Rezny Studio/Gallery:   and