Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's a start...

What I really wanted to do was sit down with my hot chocolate and enter back into the world of blogging.  I have begun to see tiny pinholes of opportunity in my life to begin again.  Thanks to some of my old blogger friends, I am inspired to start capturing small moments in my life in an attempt to remember my everyday.  My artist eyes have inserted themselves, I can tell!  This morning as I was raising the blinds, I noted the pattern of light that came through them - a gold glow of rectangles - in the split second before I had to turn off the steaming milk for my latte and pour the Kefir for Anabelle.  Then I cut some strawberries, unloaded the dishwasher and listened for Jasper, tried to sit down to read the New Yorker and straightened the coffee table instead.  The days with three little ones go so slow and so fast all at the same time.  I'm in a constant tug of war with time.  Pinned up at the post office on Central Street, there is a sign that says "the older I get, the better I was."  In some broad sense of time, that seems a fitting quote.  
Anyway and Unfortunately, I am downloading and uploading and installing apps in a futile attempt to catch up with the changes Blogger has made since I last posted.  Sigh.  I'm 110 years old when it comes to the world of technology; I don't have the foggiest idea how to get the photos from my phone directly to my blog.  Double sigh.  


Saturday, November 19, 2011

It's all quiet for about 2 more seconds

Every week I get several hours to paint and draw. Make whatever my little heart desires. No kids, pandora radio and a few new-ish tubes of waterproof gouache.
Sounds cliche, but I am beginning to be inspired by the everyday. Maybe just the things we see all the time that we rush past. The things that aren't necessarily considered beautiful. Raising kids forces one to be in the present. There's no time to lolligag in those deep corners of your brain. There are shoes to put on, buckles to be buckled, tantrums to be squelched. Where is the time for imagination? Should I work harder to find it while I play with the kids?

When I lived in Las Vegas, I came back to Chicago for two weeks in March. I rode the el downtown to work for my former employer while he was doing flowers for the Park Hyatt in Dubai. It was cold in the city and so gray. I loved how the pigeons puffed themselves up into balls trying to keep warm at the el stops. I loved seeing the backs of all the apartment buildings, the garbage cans, the wear and tear of the street signs, how curbs crumbled a little, the trash that blew around. I loved how gritty it looked. In contrast to shiny Las Vegas, where history is erased and newer is better.

So below are my two newest paintings. I am working one day a week at the same outfit, and to leave at 6:30 am when it's still dark feels like I am slipping out into the night, escaping, leaving it all behind. Know what? It kinda feels awesome. I can pretend I feel reckless. with purpose.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Today's the day!!

Today is The Big Day! The opening reception for my very first art show.

I gotta say - people are genuinely excited for me. My family, my friends... they all recognize this as a big deal. I'm excited. and nervous. and all of this leads me to wonder - what are people expecting? Are they expecting a quiet gallery, large and white and spacious with classical music quietly wafting around the air? and pieces of artwork to ponder and discuss for an evening. Uh oh.
I'm not worried that no one will show. I know many friends who will be there - including my friends Sarah and Dave who are in town for the occasion. (Holla!!!) I'm more worried that it'll be a big disappointment. Like... we got babysitters for this? This is dumb. (Don't pity me. I'm just saying out loud what everyone thinks when they host a party.) Or that someone will ask me what my art is about, and my brain will turn into mush all over again, Cuttyhunk-style. The What Am I Trying To Say struggle remains. (Wasn't it obvious from my "on meaning" post? It's like I slipped out the back door while everyone was looking.) I have been telling myself for weeks to sit down and write an artist statement. I think to myself "it'll help. I will finally put into words what I have been subconsciously putting on paper. But, alas, I have been avoiding writing such a statement Big Time.
Well, self, what's wrong with just being honest? Admitting that I make art for the sake of making something. creating. meditating. releasing. owning a chunk of time, time all to myself.
Time's up. Jasper is awake.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Make Art Because, part II

On Meaning

Between my jobs as a floral designer and moving to Evanston, I lived in Las Vegas and worked as a showgirl. Just kidding.
I started painting again just before I left my job at Epoch floral in Chicago and moved to Las Vegas. It was January 2007 when I carved out my first art studio in our 4200 square foot rental house and made art a daily priority. okay maybe weekly. What was it that unleashed in me then?

The big blue skies. The freedom of a new beginning. The excitement of our future together. No job. No expectations.

I started painting on a 22" by 30" piece of heavy paper with no plan, no formal ideas. I started painting just to see where I could go. Where my brain would take me. Like stream of consciousness. In my mind I was sewing together the squares of a quilt. Putting together colors that were pretty and mimicking shapes and patterns that I noticed on my walks through the desert - the shadows of the cacti, the jagged silhouette of the mountains. When I was finished every square inch of the paper was covered with color like a big tapestry. I named the pieceJourney Through a Quilted Subconscious.

It felt good to let go of all compositional worries and just paint for the sake of painting. I clung to that freedom and did a couple more paintings in this "horror vacui" style. I stood back to study the paintings solely to determine what colors and shapes might work best next to the ones I had just laid down on the paper. I think upon reflection that I was interested solely in creating an environment for the viewer the way a quilt creates an environment for a snuggler. ha! wait. or maybe I was interested solely in painting as a means of self expression. Maybe I tried (in vain) to just enjoy the journey and forget the end result.

My mom took me to see poet Gwendolyn Brooks speak when I was about 12 years old. When it was over my mom said to me, "your art doesn't always have to be pretty. It can really just be an expression of how you feel."


Unfortunately, my train of thought ends there because I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. Before I left for vacation. And then I left, went to Cuttyhunk Island, and my brain turned to mush.

Monday, June 27, 2011


My next post "I make art because, part II: On Meaning" has been delayed for just a bit until I can finish it. But here's the thing: without the "meaning," "beauty" just seems shallow and vain. That last post is just not sitting right with me at all. In fact I feel downright weird about it. (Did I really refer to myself as part of a "spectacular" staff. oh Gawd... weird face, rolling eyes. OOPS that came out all wrong. I was an outsider looking in - an innocent bystander watching the staff from the sidelines, a dorky author hiding behind a computer screen.)

Now. Yes, I like to create pretty environments and visually pleasing things. But that's not all!!!!! So bear with me... the meat is coming. "On beauty" can and does not stand on its own...

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I Make Art Because, part I

I had a lot of clarity after my workout at the gym this afternoon. I drove home, turned on Super Nanny and ate a Jello pudding cup and 2 chocolate squares whereupon things got fuzzy again.

But I do want to begin hashing out why it is I feel compelled to make art and what exactly I am trying to say because at some point I'd like to cull all of my thoughts into some sort of artist statement. Do a sweep-up of thoughts from all corners of my brain like a big dust pile. So without further ado.

On Beauty

Let me start with this quote by impressionist painter Renoir from the year 1910:

For me a picture... should be something likeable, joyous, and pretty - yes, pretty. There are enough ugly things in life for us not to add to them.

In 1998, my sophmore year in college, I glued that clipping into the very first page of a journal. Subconsciously I believe it became a mantra of mine. For my final Conceptual Art class project sophomore year at Washington University all my energy went towards simply "creating something beautiful." I had had it up to here with illustrating concepts and... well, congnition. All I wanted was to play with color and line - to see how colors react to each other and to see the way lines can move your eye around a page - or not.

Junior year of college I tumbled into my fashion design major and upon graduating moved back to Chicago where shortly thereafter I stumbled into floral design. What really matters in an arrangement of flowers? Texture, design, color. The way one flower plays part of the whole bouqet. It was around this time that I stopped drawing and painting. I was creating floral arrangements, and that was fulfilling my need for creativity. It was like making living 3D sculptures.

In my early 20's I worked for Marion Perry, owner of A New Leaf in Chicago. She hired lots of young artist, musician types who had no money and were often bull-headed and quirky. And we all dressed very strangely. Marion's flower shops are to this day spectacular, and as one of my co workers at the time pointed out - so was her staff. "It is very clear that Marion likes beautiful things." This struck me - the choice and capability to surround yourself with beauty on a very conscious level. hmmm.

Since we have moved to Evanston and into a house we might be in for, like, ever, I think I have unearthed the interior designer in me. In the 11 months that we have lived here I have painted our downstairs powder room "Twilight Magenta," laid an animal print carpet runner on the stairs and hall and furnished our dining room with lavender Mr. Impossible chairs. God bless, stop me before our house looks like a rainbow threw up in it.

Beige be damned. My name is Kate, I am 33 years old, and I love pretty colors.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

In preparation for...

August 4 - August 16, 2011
Art Exhibition

Frame Warehouse, Evanston, IL

Home 2009
acrylic, pen and marker on paper

Return fall 2010
acrylic, pen and colored pencil on paper

Anabelle Violet Brown fall 2010
pen on paper

Rhino fall 2010
pen and gouache on paper

Ferdinand fall 2010
pen, gouache, colored pencil and cut paper on paper

Paper Quilt spring 2011
paint chips, fabric and thread on paper

On the brink of falling to pieces spring 2011
colored pencil, pen, watercolor and marker on paper

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I've been busy...

As you probably guessed, I'm not pregnant anymore! Welcome Jasper Nye Brown! Born September 21, 2010 at 10:41 am, weighing 8 lbs 14 oz and measuring 21" long. AND I had a most successful VBAC!! Oh the stories I could tell about the past 4 weeks... but. my small friend is stirring now and I am T.I.R.E.D. I'm afraid I'll be taking a small break from blogging until I can get my life a little more sorted - that is, until I can do something other than nap during my quiet moments. Till then, tootles!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Might as well get used to it.

Because I think I might be pregnant forever.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Due date.

and it just so happens that I'm still pregnant. The past few days I have felt very energetic though, and the other night I dreamt that I was dancing. And I mean barrel turns and leaps. The whole nine yards. Then I woke up for the second time that night and hobbled to the bathroom, and that was that.

Here are some things I should do while Anabelle is napping now:
*pack my hospital bag.
*fold laundry.
*sip on some castor oil.


Anabelle's second birthday was September 10. Our baby girl is 2!!! I woke up excited for the day, and we spent all day preparing. It certainly wasn't anything elaborate - just homemade "mac a cheese" and burgers with a green bean salad, but (as the saying goes) I am off like a herd of turtles these days... Pat's parents, my mom and Don, Great Grandma Therese and Aunt Kiki came over to celebrate.

We got her this table along with Crayola's box of 96 (!) crayons, and I have since dubbed her the "Color Keeper." If she isn't telling you to sit down and color then she herself is choosing the crayons she wants you to use. And they usually happen to be in the pink and purple families.


Her actual birthday was most glorious - sunshine-y with the slight crispness of fall. But the next day was rainy - just perfect for a jaunt outside in her new rain gear from Nami.

So just think. Hopefully next time I write, I will be able to share good news! I'll be able to tell you "it's a ....!" and his/her "name is...!" One last item to add to my to-do list:

*convince Pat of the girl name I love...

Must get to work.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A few things that make me feel really awesome.

Being organized and filed - and this desk.

Apricot and orange - color scheme for the baby's nursery.

This face mask.

Clean sheets.

Laundry - in these awesome machines. Upstairs.

Friday, September 3, 2010

by... unknown potter

i am simply looking for beauty, whatever that is - it's nothing that can be explained, only felt. If i find it in a single bowl, or a wandering line of pots, good. i am grateful.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We have been very busy 'round here.

One has to start somewhere to get back in the swing of things...
This here is a family collaboration:

And this one is my first attempt with a little bit of gouache and Aquaboard. I can not help it; I am overly drawn to orange and fuchsia. Wednesday morning when I worked on this, I remembered why I like to fill blank space with color and shape; it puts my mind at ease. like meditating, it calms me to look for and find new patterns in life and replicate them in my art. I sort my thoughts this way; I follow them to see where they go. Sometimes I remember bits and pieces of dreams while I paint - old dreams, ones that I must've stored somewhere and haven't remembered for years. I love the challenge of capturing a person or an animal in my paintings also, but there's a different and focused concentration I have when I do that. So... to find a balance between my meandering mind and my focused mind when I work on a painting brings me a lot of satisfaction.

Pat starts his new job on Monday, September 13, so we are really really hitting the town hard and spending as much quality time together as we can before he disappears into the land of proving-himself-and-terrible-commutes-and-company-cars-omg!!!-and-early-mornings-late-nights. (ew.)

So Tuesday we took Anabelle to Lincoln Park Zoo where she ate a popsicle and got mad at Papa for trying to sneak a bite. I also admitted to Pat that the patterns on animals, birds and fish especially truly make me believe in God. Who else could come up with the colors and detail?

Yesterday we went to the Botanic Garden where I sat down every chance I got. We went to the model train garden which Anabelle LOVED. Here she is gasping and pointing to a picture she thinks is of a "choo-choo hain."

And this morning we went downtown for a morning at the Shedd Aquarium. Anabelle's favorite thing was the faux camp site where she could flip plastic pancakes to her heart's content. Till we had to go and she had a mega breakdown.

She fell asleep in the car and wouldn't transfer to her bed, so she was crabby and my eyes are sort of rolling back in my head. Forget making dinner; it's 8:01 and I am ready for bed. I am carrying somewhere between 35 and 40 extra pounds, and my body is OVER IT. What surprises me is that I'm not working off all that extra weight just breathing... and hoisting around another 35 pounder named Anabelle around. The work it takes to climb stairs, holy moly. Though Anabelle's vocabulary and sentence making ability has come far in the past couple of months, "Mommy Up" is still in really good use.
Let's face it. I am super duper excited to be thin again. Ah, to wear anything but slip on shoes! to bend over! to not grunt when Anabelle pushes on my belly! to not wonder if I'll ever be able to get up from the floor when I sit down! to walk faster than 2 mph - and not feel the urge to pee. again!

That's one side of my brain. The other one wonders if maybe I shouldn't hope to be pregnant forever. That lack of sleep thing really looms over me. It's sort of my boogie man under the bed.

I think I forget though. How much I'm going to love this baby.
zzzzzzzzzzz for now.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

End of August already?

Despite all my huffing and puffing (and I really am) around town, all's well. I am sitting at the desk in our bedroom overlooking our across the street neighbor's house. A short little gray house edged with white impatiens. and awaiting a sitter so that I might meet the girls out for "drinks." I'm tired today but only because I ran around doing errands. Grandpa took Abba to the park this morning, and she stayed over there for the afternoon. It's a shame I can't get it together enough to do some artwork during times like those, but I can't help but feel like there's so much else to do. This house still feels big to me, and I know it'll take time to feel really settled. not just the wow, great house, we have all the boxes unpacked kind of settled. Rather... the kind of settled where there are actually pictures on the wall and you own a real dining room table.

I am about 36 weeks along now, and I'm feeling a mixture of dread and excitement. I can't wait to meet this baby and I CAN NOT wait to find out if it's a boy or a girl. (Anabelle says there's a "baby sister" in there every time we ask.) But then there's the no-sleep issue, and that makes me tired just to think about. It seems like perfect timing though... the summer is slowly coming to a close and just as soon as the beaches close and school is back in full swing, we'll have the baby and settle in for fall.

We did a little family photo shoot at the Bahai Temple's gardens on Monday. What an evening. It was absolutely golden, and I know we'll look at the pictures in a few short months and wonder at how green and blue and soft everything looks right now at the end of August. Here's our "Coming soon" sneak peak. We sort of look like a page out of the Sear's catalogue. But in a lovely way of course. And my, that husband of mine is indeed very handsome.

In other news. Abba pooped in the potty for the first and only time the other day. I tried to find a balance between letting her know how exciting that is by jumping up and down and congratulating her and not getting so carried away that I might embaress the rep who was measuring our windows for blinds.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rocks. and other things

a housewarming gift from my mom and stepdad... two big felted wool river rocks to lounge on. have you ever heard of anything cooler?

the humidity levels are high, and i can see outside that the trees are being blown by hot, hot air. too hot even for the beach today.

anabelle is napping, and patrick is downtown in meetings again. he is right on the heels of a job, and though we are still struggling to find our routines - bumping and bumbling round the house and the town of evanston - i sure will miss him when he lands a job and hurries off to work every morning.

last night we went to another one of chicago's fabulous summer festivals in lincoln square. the humidity lifted, and we ate brats with sauerkraut, hot pretzels and fresh raspberries from the farmers market. anabelle danced to the live music and was sticky with sweat, sunscreen from our morning at the pool and peach juice.

i suppose i'm getting ready for this baby #2 to come... altho, just like when i was pregnant with anabelle, i am enjoying the last few weeks of life How It Is Right Now. anabelle is communicating and understanding so much more; the tantrums seem less and less - the giggles more. yup, parenting is so hard and tiring. but also

Thursday, August 5, 2010

We might just be blacklisted.

I am never going back to the Nordstrom's kid's shoe department again. At least not for awhile. At least not until they get a new slew of employees who didn't witness the throw-down that occurred today by a little someone named Anabelle. She's small, but boy... is she mighty.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

This morning...

...I sat on my bed tightening and loosening my sandals to find a better fit for a good 20 minutes, lollygagged around the house a little bit, bit my nails the whole way here and had one or two minor contractions.
TIME TO MYSELF AGAIN??? Time to write, to draw, to paint? Oh, I tried to get out of it -- tried to run downtown to West Elm or CB2 -- to get some things for the new house. But Pat pushed me to "go find some inner peace." Perhaps he really was listening when I said I wanted some time to stare up at the tree tops to ingest and process all of the changes.
I've begun this post a million times in my head over the past several weeks since I've been offline. I've wanted to tell you about all of the small stores we can walk to from our new house (including Anabelle pushing her mini pink stroller), about the sprawling green lawns and the huge trees. how all of the coffee shops have cork boards exploding with community events, how so many people walk and bike by our house, how so many of them are family just dropping in for a quick visit. how my old friends know about the city's summer festivals, the free outdoor concerts for kids, which beach is best for parking.

and most of all... how much more there is than even that.

I spent the first few weeks here in a sleepy fog of humidity and heat. I thought I was anemic. But apparently I was just feeling the affects of being pregnant in the summer. Luckily, unlike when we were growing up, we have central air, and we have an almost-two year old who has been taking monstrously long 3 and 4 hour naps. Anyway, I think I've moved past the haze, and much of my energy is back. 98% of our boxes are unpacked, the walls are painted (glorious colors if I do say so - including our "twilight magenta" powder room), rugs are down, couches are in place. Anabelle is happy. So happy. And talking up a storm. And refusing to wear almost anything but pink. The pitter patter of her bare feet on the hard wood floors makes me nostalgic even today... when years of that little sound still lay ahead.
What a feeling to live in a place that is just right. To be where you know you really belong. It's a gift to have such roots and be so sure about something, isn't it. All at the same time, I am aware that so much of that feeling is in the leaving and coming back. That could be why not one, but two engagements to the same man could be very important (to a gal named Flowergirl anyway.) wink wink.
So now that I am a bit more settled I feel a leeeettle less frantic about everything being organized, every bit of mail sorted, every toy in its place. And Pat feels a leeeettle less frenetic about marks on our freshly painted walls. We're settling in and settling down. Eventually we'll have our schedules set and our routines down. For now, Grandpa and Grammie took Anabelle down to the Nature Museum in the city, and I have proudly carved out some time to stare up at the trees, so to speak.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The day after

A little note I wrote to my family this morning...

well here we are. yesterday went by in a strange blur, but we got through. anabelle went to her friend cassidy's house and pat and i took buzz to the vet. all was so peaceful, and when we sat in the room after he was gone, the only thing missing were his soft snores. he just went to sleep, and dr strobeck sat on the floor with us for awhile while we all talked. he asked if we wanted buzz's paw print, and i said yes of course, how wonderful to capture that big muffin paw on paper! so when we finally left, pat and i went for a bite to eat. the house is full of his presence, and my mind feels so confused that he's not here. like i have to keep reminding myself... last night felt esp sad - no buzz to let out and summon upstairs to bed. and this morning too. anabelle slept later than usual, so i did too because no buzz whining to go out.
it's quiet here without buzzy, but we know we did the right thing, and dr strobeck did not hold back in agreeing. his sparkle was gone, and that was hard to see. pat and i feel like we are ready to leave now - ready to start again. sort of the right ending to a really great adventure.
love, kate

I have now lost a few friends in my life, and today I silently declared that I hate death and all that it means. It's a shame, I know, because life is full of it. And they say that if you make peace with death, life has more meaning. You can appreciate how sweet - and short - life is.
But today I say phoo-eeee.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Buzz, my friend. We have been through a lot together. We have been to many places - Holland's tulip fields, Chicago's city streets, the red rocks of this wild wild west. You have watched me grow up - all the while being the old man soul that you are. Quiet and stubborn, like a rock. I have loved you in a solid way, my steadfast wingman. I have loved the places you have led me and the people you have led me to. But now, before our big move and before the new baby, you have decided that it's your time to slowly exit.

I will miss your squat body, soft but bristly, but most of all I will miss your funny snorts and your soft and even purring. When I wake at night to roll over, I will miss that snoring. It's the background music that means all is well, that I can turn over and fall back to sleep.

You are and always will be my first baby - the one who taught me how to care for someone besides just my silly, young 23 year old self.
Fare thee well, my old friend.
And thank you for all that you have given me.

* * *

"It's been a wonderful journey. We were magic together, for we saw each other with ancient eyes... we made it sweet fun for each other."
-The Shaman Bulldog, A Love Story
by Renaldo Fischer