Blog Redux

Yesterday in the chaos of discovering that by shutting down the Daily Prompt, WordPress was making it harder for me to pay them for my websites, I thought of blowing the whole thing up. But, at this point in my life, I’m a reasonable person. I did some research only to learn that most of the free or low-cost webhosting sites send you to — yeah — WordPress.

It’s an empire.

I thought, “Do I want to deal with this?” If I am allotted only 3 score and 10 I have only four left. Clearly a hissy fit over WordPress and starting over from scratch with websites for my books is a poor use of a rapidly depleting resource.

In the process I looked at my blogs on Blogger, thinking, perhaps, of reviving one. I found a poem. I wondered who wrote it, and then I remembered I had written it. Wow. My poor brain… Well, a lot has happened since 2013 — five years and my whole entire life has changed. The poem is on my painting blog, A Lifetime Apprenticeship. 

There was This Day,
There was This Shadow,
There was This Woman,
There was This Blue.
There was No Fame.
There was No Reason.
There was No Winner.
There was No Immortality.


This Shaft of Light
This Sharp Blast,
This Foundering Ship
This Lost Child,
This Man Walking,
This Stream Flowing,
This Arc of Passion,


These Hands
These Eyes
This Ochre Clay
This Gold Foil
This Deadly Yellow, but USE IT ANYWAY
This MAGIC Poison White
This Blue from Gold-Flecked Stone
This Green from a Copper Pot
This Short Life
This Single Vision.

I wrote the poem as an ode to the ordinary painter throughout time. The one whose name we don’t know who might have influenced the famous one. The one who painted as a way to feed his family. The one who loved the colors, the process, the images, the beauty. The one who might have discovered a new color or properties of the magical ground on which he painted.

I love pigment. In writing Martin of Gfenn I had to learn how colors were made in medieval times. It was absolutely fascinating. Ultramarine blue — for example — was originally made of ground up lapis lazuli. Its light-reflecting properties in a fresco are amazing. A couple of months ago, as I moved closer to my surgery date, I found some online and bought it. I also bought a real wooden panel and old fashioned gesso (gesso means gypsym) to size the panel and make it ready to absorb oil paint. It should be wonderful.

I’m living in a place where art is big. There’s not a lot else here other than potatoes, barley, hops, horses, cattle. Taos and Santa Fe are well known art centers in this country, but it’s one kind of art, mainly Southwest Art. I want another thing completely when I paint. I don’t know exactly what I’m painting FOR other than myself. I’ve sold more paintings than I have sold words, but the other artists around me don’t think my work is all that good. That’s fine. I would never paint what they paint, either, though I have the good grace not to think their work is bad. It’s just not mine. Rivalry between artists is nasty but real.

In my case, I don’t want to paint the same thing or the same way twice. I view painting as a journey of discovery. I’m never going to be a master. With each painting I’ve learned something new about painting, about paint, about myself, about the world I’m looking at. The painting above is a narrow trail up a California mountainlet in a wet spring. Dusty and I had a wonderful time that day and I took photos. I like painting from photos and I really like the way paintings come out when I paint from the image on my iPad with the light coming up through it rather than shining on it. It’s different. Like this one. This is Descanso Falls in December. Some of this painting works well for me, some of it doesn’t, but it took months to complete and someone was happy to give me $300 so I didn’t have to store it some place. 🙂


Descanso Falls, unframed FASO size

Descanso Falls


For my blogging cat friends, Tabby, Parker and Lucy… This is Catmandu. Please note her crossed eyes. Once in a while, they caused her to walk into a wall, after which she’d look around to see if anyone had noticed. ❤


22 thoughts on “Blog Redux

    • She was hilarious. My aunt sent the cats catnip for Christmas (I had 10 cats) and Catmandu opened EVERY catnip package, rubbed the leaves on her furry self, and rolled around the living room floor. I really, really loved that cat. ❤

        • I intended to have two but they kept meeting other cats on their travels and bringing them home. Students found cats and gave them to me. Catmandu came from my vet who’d learned of that beautiful Himalayan living in a junk yard. She was number 9. Do I have your mailing address? I’ll send you and Lucy my book of cat poems from that moment of life. Pure catteral.

  1. I read another book about creating colors — especially yellow and that brilliant blue — and for a very brief while contemplated trying to make my own, then realized I am barely willing to cook dinner. Making the likelihood of creating paint colors much smaller, especially since I haven’t done any art type painting in years.

    Yes, when you look for a blog, you discover almost all of them are either much MORE expensive than WordPress — and less effective — or dead and gone. They either killed themselves off by doing what WordPress is doing — amazing how great minds may find original idea, but stupid minds all think alike — or were bought out and THEN closed down. Regardless, there isn’t any real choice.

    I’ve been trying to find a replacement for WP for a long time. Years. Since they started down this long and lethal highway, which was about 2014-ish. Haven’t had any luck and I already have a Blogger post which i never use. So I’m going to make the best of it. Whatever that means. I started paying the $100/year way back when you could do a lot more customizing for the price than you can now, though these days they let you use ANY template for one price which is some kind of improvement. I didn’t want the annoying advertising, I needed the extra space for photographs, and I wanted to be able to mess with the fonts. I think I’m grandfathered in at the old price. If I run out of space, I’ll have to go and delete several thousand photographs.

    But if you discover something out there that looks good … let me know. I’m looking too and so far, it hasn’t yielded much of anything and not for want of trying.

    • I’m not looking anymore. Life really is too short to start all this over. And WordPress really has taken over a lot of low-cost/free web hosting sites. 🙂

  2. Martha, I love your paintings. Beautiful colours. Are they oils? I can see a dog/cat in your first painting? I googled Descanso Falls. There were many images of the Falls crowded with people. I can see why you preferred to hike the trail in Winter. I’m glad you are showing us more of your paintings. It must be incredibly satisfying to produce work that you love. It’s a bit like birth really – difficult and frustrating but worth the angst. Your art purchaser got a bargain I think.

    I don’t suppose it would surprise you to learn that my mother paints. The stories she tells of the bitchiness in the local arts scene are horrendous. I imagine that gets worse the bigger pool you swim in. My mother has succumbed to some bitchiness herself. Also, like me, she was a late starter so the ‘old timers’ feel free to make sure she stays in her place.

    I do not personally know any other mosaic artists. I like to enjoy their work anonymously. That way I can do what suits me without the self-sabotage that comes with unintended and intended criticism.

    • I never experienced that bitchiness until I moved here. That’s when I learned, 1) I’m good enough to threaten people, 2) I don’t want to play. I was grateful for my mom’s lesson, “If they’re not nice, pick up your toys and go home.”

      For a while I was a member of an artists’ co-op and that was a nightmare. My whole mission in life at this point is to avoid gratuitous drama, and that definitely interfered with my mission. I don’t understand how appreciating anothers’ work denigrates one’s own. I don’t think it does, but there you are. I won’t succumb to the bitchiness; i had enough of that in my teaching career.

      I had some small success in California — not even that small, actually. Plus, it’s a much bigger pond than this little town and region, big enough to be lost in. Anyway, I have artist friends who are not assholes. I was disappointed, though. I got used to the effect of “personalities” on my peace of mind when I was teaching, but in something I regard completely as an elective activity? Why? Plus everyone has their personal taste and their expectations. My favorite work of my own probably makes no sense to anyone but me. 🙂

      The experience of coming up against mean local artists was good for me, though. It made me realize that I don’t care about “success” as much as I care about having a good time, and when it was no longer fun to paint, I stopped. I will start again. At the moment, I don’t have a good workspace, or one I feel comfortable in. I’ve done some good paintings. Most of them, though, I look at and think, “Well, that’s almost a good painting.” That’s fine with me; it means I’m learning.

      The top painting doesn’t have any animals in it. It’s just a very overgrown trail with the plants taking advantage of late winter rain to grow as fast as they can before the heat of summer hits. It was a pleasure to paint that. The day was perfect — perfect temperature and humidity — and the paint SANG.

      • Artists are always critical of their own work. Your paintings are lovely. I hope you do some more for fun one day, staying out of the local arts politics of course.

        I’ve done a couple of commissions. It is not as fun as doing my own work. Probably because I worry they may not like it. So I try to look busy so I don’t get asked too often. 🙂

        I see an animal in the top painting. It is an optical illusion. Maybe it is the colours on my ‘puter.

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