Friday, December 24, 2010

Quote


The artist is the confidant of nature, flowers carry on dialogues with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the harmoniously tinted nuances of their blossoms, Every flower has a cordial word which nature directs towards him.
-Auguste Rodin

Friday, December 17, 2010

An Open Letter To My Brain Injury

The Hours "Ali In The Jungle" music video - Directed by Jonas Odell from FilmTecknarna on Vimeo.


I ran two miles today. This is the first time I have run since my accident on Easter '09.

But, you knew that. You orchestrated the overwhelming fatigue that washed over me when I tried and failed to do basic household chores (dishes, laundry) and tedious paperwork. You made me sleep for 15 hours a day. You steeped me in anxieties and fear, and you tore apart my self esteem. I clung to my small victories, those minute glimmers of promise.. and you would retaliate in another way, dragging me back and reminding me that for every small parcel I reclaimed, there are a hundred more pieces of me that you had in your possession.

Today, it was different. As the golden hour hit Boston and set the December trees on fire, I pushed up a hill... and then I pushed up another. Emboldened by the lack of fear (of falling), my strides became longer and quicker. A whisper of a meditation of hope turned into a war cry.

I may be slow right now, but I am determined. And I will overcome you. And while I know I still have to play by some of your rules, know this....

It's on, you miserable son of a bitch.

.....
further proof of asskickitude (click for larger):

Friday, December 10, 2010

Quote


Flowers never emit so sweet and strong a fragrance as before a storm. When a storm approaches thee, be as fragrant as a sweet-smelling flower.
-Jean Paul Richter

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010

Progress (thankful for little things)


I have a SuDoKu taped to the refrigerator. It is an 'easy' puzzle. Numbers are written in orange colored pencil. It also has a date written on it.   I have completed my first SuDoKu puzzle since the injury.  I have no idea how long it took me to complete. I just remember that it was hard to focus on something and keep all of the numbers correct. I kept checking my answers and re-checking.

When I placed it on the refrigerator, I felt like the kid who got her first "A" in math.  I know it's something to be proud of, this accomplishment, but I also know that it is one in a series of small steps to getting "better".  I have a niggling fear that I won't ever return to 'normal'.  But I also have a hope that whatever becomes of me, that I will be good and interesting and grateful. 

If you had the ability to re-shape your life, what would you do?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Charlie Rose :Creative Brain

"Charlie Rose Brain Series Episode Twelve: Creative Brain, a discussion about creativity with artists Richard Serra and Chuck Close, neurologist Oliver Sacks, Ann Temkin, chief curator of painting and sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art and Eric Kandel of Columbia University"

http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11264

53 minutes

(I must admit that I was painting while listening, so it lacked my full attention). 
I did pick up some interesting information from the discussion.  Chuck Close's methods- why he works the way he does.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Working oneself out of a rut

hmcraig Work In Progress (peony lilac narcissus)
Work in Progress (peony lilac narcissus), 24x30", acrylic on canvas


I've been stuck. And we all know that the best way to get unstuck is to work through the stickiness.  So, this past weekend, this piece has been extracting the negative stuck feelings (ambivalence, procrastination...).   

A note on the subject of the painting... the trees around New England have been reduced to bare branches in the sky and the sun is going down around 4:30 pm.  Winter is not my favorite time of year. I can hardly describe the elation that Spring brings to me. So, I decided to bring Spring to myself!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Quote


All of the flowers of tomorrow are in the seeds of today.
-Indian Proverb

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Music- Peter Warlock



Apparently, Peter Warlock was quite the character.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quote


Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.
-Theodore Roethke

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Peaceful Warrior


Last week, I watched a movie that I had been wantign to see for a while, but based on it's description, was not sure I wouldn't be reduced to a sobbing mess. You see, I haven't been able to go bicycling/running for well over a year.... and the site of cyclists on the road still fills me with a sense of longing and the burning feeling of missing out.

Peaceful Warrior is based on the true life story of Dan Millman who was a championship gymnast. He was in a motorcycle accident that shattered his right femur.  He overcame his injury and joined his team in winning the NCAA gymnastics championship. If you just knew those facts, you would think it was very nose-to-the-grindstone recovery. All physical.

But, there's a different element. There is the mental element that is the core of this movie. A kind of  re-evaluation of goals and re-stocking of life. The notion of fleeting happiness is addressed.




There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Unexpected Joy.... Art Treasure/ Free Paintings

Unexpected Joy
"Unexpected Joy", 12"x12", acrylic on hardboard

This is the first of a series of paintings that I will be giving away for free. Yep, that's right, free.  The above painting was placed yesterday near Spaulding Rehab hospital in Boston, and has been claimed!


If you would like to find an art treasure, subscribe to my twitter feed or facebook page. I will give out hints and clues about the location.  Good Luck!


http://twitter.com/paintsflowers
HMCraig on Facebook

You can also check out past locations where artwork has been found:

View Art Hunt/ Art Treasure locations in a larger map

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Quote


Flowers are the beautiful hieroglyphics of nature, with which she indicates how much she loves us.
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Music- Steve Martin and Bela Fleck



Steve Martin plays beautifully, doesn't he?
It's hard to be sad listening to banjo.  ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Quote


I always think the flowers can see us, and know what we are thinking about.
-George Eliot (pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans Cross)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Art of the American Soldier

 Lerch as Desk Sergeant
Lerch as Desk Sergeant, 9x12", grease pencil on paper

I was in the Air Force. It was a short career, but also an experience that I wouldn't trade. The people I met and worked and became friends with are fantastic/wonderful/great/awesome. They continue to do great things, and I am proud of them.

A few days ago, I saw that the Constitution Center in Philadelphia was putting together a show of sorts, titled "Art of the American Soldier". And they wanted submissions.  I rifled through my sketchbook and found Lerch. I felt like I had won the lottery, and submitted the humble sketch.

Considering that I worked 12 hour shifts with my teammates, you would think that I would have more drawings of them. I'm kicking myself now because I didn't draw Red, or Collins, or Odgers, or Campbell, or Calabrese, or Weatherwax, or Horan, or Martinez-Caban....  the list goes on.  So, this little sketch actually means a lot to me.

You can see it (in the 1990's) and more like it at the link (it is a flash website, and takes a bit of time to load):

http://constitutioncenter.org/artOfTheAmericanSoldier/website/gallery/timeline.aspxNational Constitution Center- "Art of the American Soldier"

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Getting a mTBI in the Army doesn't warrant a Purple Heart????



http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129756105
 
An absolutely infuriating interview by NPR about how the Pentagon currently views brain injury. It seems that they don't want to be thought of as handing out medals as though they were candy... so, they restrict their definition of injury  (see: invisible disability... just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not happening).

Considering that Purple Heart recipients get faster/cheaper care at VA hospitals, it would seem that this is a heartless sweep it under the rug kind of economic decision. Couple that with the military mentality of "you ain't injured unless your entrails are spilling out of your body", and we have a double whammy of negligence.

Dear Brass,
You're constantly telling the troops to be vigilant in terms of terrorism. How 'bout you do the same with brain injury?  

You don't expect to be told to run with a broken foot... why are you telling the brain injured soldiers to go back to work and suck it up? Having a brain injury is kind of like being drunk. They're having cognitive and emotional difficulties (read: can't do basic logic and are experiencing mood swings) ...Oh, just send the soldier out there with a loaded weapon, sounds like a *fantastic* idea!  

And... Why are you denying them healthcare?

Thanks,
A Brain Injury Survivor

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Euphoria

HMCraig-Euphoria
"Euphoria", 12x12", acrylic on canvas
private collection

Poppies and gold.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Let the Day Go On and On

HMCraig -Let The Day Go On and On
"Let the Day Go On and On", 10x10", acrylic on wood panel
private collection

Tulips, hydrangea, and lily of the valley.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A Whisper, A Word

HMCraig-A Whisper A Word
"A Whisper, A Word", 10x10", acrylic on wood panel
private collection

Peonies!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The New Experience

HMCraig "The New Experience"
HMCraig, "The New Experience", 9x12", acrylic on hardboard
private collection


Hello! I wanted to work with a palette that was juicy and indicative of the end of Summer. So, the colors were the new experience.  

This is a wild bouquet of sunflowers and a rather large Peony.   I hope you enjoy it!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Everything Is New

HMCraig- Everything Is New
HMCraig, "Everything is New", 12x12", acrylic on wood panel
private collection

Gerberas and Agapanthus! Colors! Oh, my!

Quote


We can complain, because the rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because the thorn bushes have roses.
-Abraham Lincoln

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Patricia Burson

Patricia Burson, "Schoodic Birch", 40"x60"

Patricia Burson is a New England artist who draws immense inspiration from nature. The subjects are presented in an almost abstract way.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Quote


“Never allow anyone to rain on your parade and thus cast a pall of gloom and defeat on the entire day. Remember that no talent, no self-denial, no brains, no character, are required to set up in the fault-finding business. Nothing external can have any power over you unless you permit it. Your time is too precious to be sacrificed in wasted days combating the menial forces of hate, jealously, and envy. Guard your fragile life carefully. Only God can shape a flower, but any foolish child can pull it to pieces.”

-Og Mandino


photo by MyDigitalSlr on Flickr

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Piece of a Life (Peace in a Life)

Piece of a Life (Peace in a life)

Piece of a Life (Peace in a Life), 24x48", acrylic on canvas


See a larger version here.

This painting was executed as part of a challenge to incorporate my experiences at Spaulding Rehab. I broadened the challenge and included my experience with my injury, and also included other influences (friends, family, support groups).   
 
There are many things in this painting that hold meaning. Some are more significant than others.  You already know about the fish.
Piece of a life ,detail broken goldfish

I got the pink lilies from Stow Lily.
Piece of a life ,detail lilies

also... I've also been busy taking care of G. He's had his second knee operation of the summer, and is healing incredibly well, but has not been able to put weight on his leg.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quote

 
If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change
-Hindu Prince Guatama Siddharta, founder of Buddhism


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Art of the Steal



This is a thoroughly entertaining documentary about the way art and art collections are appropriated.  BUT... the viewer must know that one of the main people funding this film, Lenny Feinberg, had attended the Barnes for classes.

NY Times Review and further information

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Music- Bolero



I think the first time I heard this piece was in music class in junior high. Loved it then, love it still.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Simon, the Shark, and the Show



As written in a prior post, I've been thoroughly engrossed in reading The $12 Million Stuffed Shark by Don Thompson. I have learned a great deal about the art world from it, and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed Freakonomics (also another fantastic read).  Recently, the chapters have focused on the workings of auction houses, mainly Christie's and Sotheby's as they are the front runners in the auction world. There is another auction house mentioned, Phillips de Pury, and the author lists it as being "a distant third-ranked auction house in the Christie's-Sotheby's battle" that "guaranteed losses for a very long time". Phillips de Pury had to find a way to differentiate itself and succeed. A few days ago, I had a bit of an Aha! moment when I read this passage:


"Phillips now focuses on first-time buyers in their twenties and thirties, from the hedge-fund millionaires to rookie collectors. It wants to avoid being seen as number three....instead positioning itself as number one its own blue-chip, emerging, super-modernism segment. As part of the change, Phillips auction catalogues were re-designed to resemble fashion magazines. "   

And.... "Simon de Pury was portrayed in press releases as a sort of rock-star auctioneer."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Work in Progress, and the goldfish


This is one of the paintings that I am currently working on. It is 24x48", and acrylic. It is a still life representing my brain injury story. You can 'read' it from left to right. There is a bowl of cherries, a broken vase, a goldfish, prescription bottles, a painting.... and so on.  

I had to break a vase. So, I went to my favorite local thrift store and found something inexpensive. I brought it home, put it in a few large ziploc bags, and commenced to hitting it with a hammer. It didn't break.  So.... I took it outside and threw it at the ground, repeatedly. Nothing.  Eventually, the little vase just gave up in a rather satisfying POPpsssh sound.   This is odd considering any other time I break something (not on purpose), I've only sneezed at it. 

Another little story.. the goldfish. I included the goldfish because they have short memories, and this is applicable to me.  I don't have a goldfish in the house. I couldn't fathom buying one (just for this painting?.... and take it with us on trips??).  So... the goldfish...    isn't real.

I painted a goldfish on the lid of a ravioli container. It was then varnished to withstand being put in water. It was in the water for about an hour or so, while I took reference photos for the painting. After the photo shoot was over, the goldfish was given to G as a cubicle pet.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bringing It All Together


H.M. Craig, "Bringing It All Together", approx 32x20", acrylic on canvas

G and I have a great friend (B) we met through rock climbing. He's one of those guys that gets along with everyone, is really fun to be around, and has a really great perspective on life. He has helped us out a great deal.  

I wanted to do a quasi-portrait of B, something that captured him without being a full on portrait. I had an intent of doing something that would always remind him of one of his favorite things...rock climbing. So, I asked to borrow his trad rack (climbing gear). He loaned me all 437 pieces (I exaggerate, but he's got a lot of 'tools'). I took a whole lot of reference pics of carabiners, ropes, slings, prussicks, nuts, cams........mostly a lot of metal and rope-type things. I ended up settling on a bunch of carabiners...I was always enamored with the colored metal, but the function of the carabiner (brings everything together) coupled with B's identifying markings (blue and yellow tape) kind of fit in with my idea of being a portrait without being a portrait. B brings it all together for everyone.

 G lovin' some rock (see the house in the upper left corner?)

B and G do what is known as trad climbing. They climb places where there isn't protective gear, they put it in (and take it out) themselves. They carry all their gear with them as they climb. So, not only do they have to know how to climb, they also have to know how to set proper gear so they don't fall off the rock (and take the other person with them). They smoothly move up rock faces that are hundreds of feet high. Me? I am scared of heights, but am always thoroughly impressed with their adventures!

Quote


The fairest thing in nature, a flower, still has its roots in earth and manure.
-D.H. Lawrence 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Tim Fraser

Tim Fraser,Morning Bridge, oil on canvas

Oh, look at the beautiful glowing organic forms! It's interesting to see the primary colors and how the very real atmosphere affects the mass of 'tree' and 'water'.  See Tim's site here.


 TimFraser, "Seawall bridge at dawn", 27"x48", oil on canvas

Tim Fraser, "Suspended seawall", 27x48", oil on canvas

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Paul J. Stankard

Paul Stankard, "Summer Memories", glass

It's amazing that there is such a talent that can create a whole natural world, inside a glass paperweight. Do you see the honeybees and their lacy wings? Do you see the delicate frills on the end of the blueberries?

Oh, hey... movie time!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Evan Wilson

Evan Wilson, The Peacock Kimono, 34x40"

As you all know, I'm a sucker for lots of color. I'm also dazzled by kimonos. Evan Wilson puts them both together in this painting.   Evan's website is here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Postcard- Yours for the taking!

Hello All!
I have a great new shipment of postcards, all complete with some of my artwork and name and colors and .... magic. Ok, maybe not magic. But I can have my wonder-dog Beans carry them to the mailbox.


If you would like one, send me an email with your address, and I'll send out a card! Deal?

my email      HMCraigArt  at gmail.com

$12 Million Stuffed Shark



If you've ever been curious about what the high muckety mucks have shelled out millions of dollars for in regards to contemporary art... do yourself a favor and grab "The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art" by Don Thompson.

It is an incredibly interesting read filled with .... Art! Money! Branding! I know, I know, I know... living artists and money don't go together..tsk, tsk, tsk, silly artist (again, the myth). Read this book and see how they do.

A review on Amazon with which I agree wholeheartedly:

I will not attempt to add to the growing number of positive reviews of this wonderful book, save to say the following: It is a thought- provoking study in how two seemingly different and disparate fields, art and finance, are closely and intimately linked.......ONE GREAT READ!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Alice Neel

 Alice Neel, self portrait

I watched a documentary about Alice Neel today. It was fascinating with regards to how she straddled roles of mother/wife/girlfriend with the role of the artist. Also... the myth of the artist was discussed, which I will go into at another time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dave, continued


Dave has an excellent post, a list from a book, on 40 things needed the most after someone gets a brain injury.  I posted the ones most important/ relevant to me. Keep in mind that, like John Byler says, brain injuries are like fingerprints- they're all different.
http://temporallobeblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/after-my-brain-injury-these-are-40.html

1) I am not stupid, I am wounded. Please respect me.

2) Come close, speak slowly, and enunciate clearly

4) Be as patient with me the 20th time you teach me something, as you were the first.

10) Honour the healing power of sleep

12) Stimulate my brain when I have any energy to learn something new, but know that a small amount may wear me out quickly.


16) Trust that I am trying – Just not with your skill level or on your schedule

17) Ask me multiple choice questions. Avoid Yes/No questions

18) Ask me questions with specific answers. Allow me time to hunt for an answer.

19) Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can think.



24) Break all actions down into smaller steps of actions.

25) Look for what obstacles prevent me from succeeding on a task

27) Remember that I have to be proficient at one level of function before I can move on the next level.

28) Celebrate all of my little successes. They inspire me.

29) Please don’t finish my sentences of me or fill in words I can’t find. I need to work my brain.

31) I may want you to think I understand more than I really do

32) Focus on what I can do rather than bemoan what I cannot do.
 


33) Introduce me to my old life. Don’t assume that because I cannot play like I used to play that I won’t continue to enjoy music or an instrument, etc.

34) Remember that in the absence of some functions, I have gained other abilities

37) Love me for who I am today. Don’t hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now.


38) Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress.

40) Remember that my medications probably make me feel tired, as well as mask m ability to know what it feels like to be me.

Taken from My Stroke Of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Meet Dave



http://daves-runtoremember.blogspot.com/

He has become an Ironman athlete since his brain injury. This is really huge considering how much one has to remember to get through training AND the triathlon.   For example, Dave writes:

"How does someone who doesn’t remember what lap they are on, get in any kind of a quality workout. When we are talking about the 3.8kl distance needed for the Ironman. How does the athlete remember the laps? The drills.
With the Garmin I can put specific workouts in, I can do heart rate, speed drills, cadence drills, time drills, etc. When I am in the water however it is just me. 
After many different ideas we found some water proof paper. I right down my specific drills. I.e. free style, kick's with the board, and other drills. I could mark down when I finished a lap, and keep track, so I would not over or under train."



And on the appropriately titled post "Having a TBI really sucks sometimes",  Dave goes on about just getting his gear together to go train (a simple run):

"I don’t like the fact that I get over stimulated so easy. I can’t cope with multiple things going on at once on a good day. Let alone when there multiple “big” things all happening at once.when I over stimulated my brain is like an old record that keeps skipping. Inside my head I am constantly spinning on the same spot. An example would be. Where I am going? I am going for run after my bike. I need shoes for my run. I go to the closet and I forget why I am there. So I ask myself “where am I going? I am going for a run” I need to get shoes. I go and get shoes only to forget why I am at the closet. This spinning has becoming increased, and on top of the spinning I flood.

Flooding is where I am over stimulated. I am running to many programs at once in my head. I am thinking about money, I am thinking that my landlord has not returned my damage deposit. I am thinking about my wife, I am thinking about my bike and my run. I am thinking I don’t have any money. I get so anxious over not having enough food. That has been the latest freak out. In my head I keep thinking I don’t have enough of the foods I need to train at this level. I keep going to the fridge and making sure it is there. Then I forget and go back and check. Then I realize I am looking for my shoes.

Then a phone call will come that the previous owner did not pay the electrical bill, that New Westminster electrical is coming after the new owners for it. I paid my electrical bill, why do I have to pay his? This was covered by the notary. Where are my shoes?"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Arthood


My portfolio was featured on Arthood! I think you can click the pic to make it bigger.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Army Wives- Part 2



Continuing from yesterday's post on Army Wives' depiction of a Traumatic Brain Injury.
*****
Episode 13

Joan is working on her memory by using flash cards. She says she feels like she's back in elementary school. Roland tells her she has to "walk before she can run"

Later on, Joan is going stir crazy and has a need to exercise.  She says that for other injuries she could work it out, but regarding her brain "she can't just get on a treadmill and push past the pain". She says' that "I've been stuck in this house all afternoon, I'm going out"
 Her husband objects "Exercise can interfere with your healing".  This is very hard to stomach if you've led an active life.

 Joan heads out to jog. And this is where the story was too familiar for me.... she got lost. I can't tell you the panic I had when I first got lost. I was in tears. I never got lost, what was going on?  She ends up calling the Sergeant (who recently regained his ability to drive) to help her out. He picks her up.  Joan-"sorry to bother you, you're the only person I know who understands. I got lost a mile from my own house... I expect more from myself".   note- I got lost in an airport. I was getting a juice two gates away, and had no idea where I was. Talk about re-assessing.


A lot of the her story is focused on taking it easy to recover from her injury. In the military, the commonly accepted form of rehabilitation is to push through it, and if you aren't pushing hard enough, you aren't going to get better... which leads me to another storyline that's telling in it's juxtaposition. There is a daughter of an officer who went through knee surgery. She is sad because she's not getting better, and that doesn't bode well for her ice hockey.  Her father takes her out, tells her to push through it, and has her run up and down stairs. A lot. His quote "She's not gonna improve if she doesn't push herself".  She does end up getting better.


And now back to Joan
On why she doesn't want to go to a military gathering-
 she's on convalescent leave, and feels like she is failing/ being weak. When her troops look at her, there aren't any outward signs of her injury, leaving the viewer to question what's wrong with her (invisible disability, common problem).  She notes that when there were stitches on her face, it was easy to see and understand (sometimes, I wish I still had my black eye and stitches for this very reason).
Honestly, I would not have gone to the event simply because there would be too many things going on, too many people talking- conversations are sometimes hard to follow.  And if there's an inkling that I will be stressed out in any way, it's best to avoid the situation and meltdown that most often follows. This event would be like running a marathon on a sprained ankle. Stresses the brain too much.

There will be more to the story, and I am interested in watching how it pans out.  I guess I'm happy that someone is taking a thoughtful look at brain injury.
There is a page with a bit of information about brain injury on the Army Wives site.

photo by izqrdo on flickr.   
photo by jillyspoon on flickr

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Army Wives- Part 1


My dear sweet friend Kat called me to tell me about a show she's been watching, Army Wives. Kat told me that the people who put together the show decided to tackle Traumatic Brain Injury, and by what I've told her about my injury, she's been impressed by the depiction in the show. So, I hunted high and low for the episodes.

I found a few, Episode 12 and 13 of the fourth season. Sadly, I missed episode 10 and 11, in which the character, Joan, figures out what is going on. If anybody has a link for either of these two, I would surely like to see them, as they show the beginning of dealing with the problem.  I think the hardest part about brain injury is figuring out what is going on, and dealing with everyday life at the same time (you look normal, why are you being so weird/lazy/bitchy?).



Saturday, July 24, 2010

Quote


I don't want to be stinky poo poo girl, I want to be happy flower child.
-Drew Barrymore