Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for April, 2008

How did it get to be Wednesday already?

Wednesday, April 30th, 2008

Really? Wednesday?
And I haven’t posted yet? Well, I better get on that.

So this week…

Well, I made the Rainbow Jello that I linked to last week. Here’s what I learned. It’s really pretty, but it’s a lot of work for something that still just tastes like Jello. I don’t really like Jello.

I also made oven-dried tomatoes. That was easy and satisfying. I am all about things that are easy and satisfying.

And I painted. I still can’t show you what I’ve done, but I think I’ve cleared a new hurdle with my work. I’ve talked before about how I seem to hit a wall, when I’m ninety percent finished with a painting. Last week, Gary offered a cumulative critique of my work from the year. As we talked about my work as a whole, I was able to see the consistent weaknesses and, more importantly, how I could fix them. So since then, I’ve been working on details. Straightening edges, smoothing transitions, sharpening perspective lines, adjusting value shapes… it makes for a better painting, but boring blogging–especially without a camera. Sorry.

I love this…

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

oh, my! How complicated– but it’s soooo pretty.

A story… and a reminder to myself.

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

So, I was 9 before I learned to ride a bike.

Yeah, I know. Most people learn around 6. I had a bike, but I was too busy trying to learn to tie my shoes–or learn to swim–or cut my own food– uh… wait. I didn’t really learn to tie my shoes until last year (it’s a long story), I’m still more of a floater than a swimmer, and I became a vegetarian mostly because I’m not so good at cutting meat. Ok, so I don’t really have a good excuse.

Anyway, for whatever reason, I couldn’t ride a bike. It wasn’t that I didn’t try. It wasn’t that my mom didn’t run behind me for hours holding the back of the bike, it wasn’t that I didn’t know how to pedal. I mean, every member of my family spent hours in the driveway with me, but I just couldn’t get past the training wheels stage. Finally, I just started to feel dumb, inept and ridiculous. It was frustrating to me and to everyone else. The bike with its streamers went into the garage and stayed there for months.

Then we moved to a new neighborhood. It was quiet and friendly and a perfect place to spend hours riding a bike. But I couldn’t. I just walked or stayed home. The bike stayed in the garage. Eventually, someone noticed. At a cookout one evening I wanted to go with the other kids, but they were all on bikes, so I sat with the adults and looked bored. Our neighbor Richard asked me why I wasn’t out there. As I hung my head in shame, my mom gave a long and embarrassing explanation while all the other adults proffered helpful suggestions.

“Yes, we tried that, but she still can’t ride it.”
“No, it didn’t work.”
“I just didn’t know what else to do.”

Richard spoke up. “I can teach her.”

“Really? I don’t know. We’ve all tried…”

Richard looked at me and said, “Meet me in our driveway tomorrow afternoon.”

I was afraid, but I walked the bike over to Richard’s house the next day. I was fully expected to fall, to fail, to disappoint another adult and embarrass myself yet again. I was afraid this was going to end in another visit to the dentist or the ER. Worst of all, I was afraid that Blake and Michael– Richard’s teenage sons– would make fun of me.

But I got on the bike. After a few falters, Richard said, “Jolie, when you feel like you’re going to fall, turn the handlebars in the direction you’re falling.” Huh? But, if I’m falling that way, then don’t I want to go the other way? That doesn’t make sense. “Just try it and see what happens.”

Fifteen minutes later, I was riding a bike down the biggest hill in the neighborhood with Richard running behind unable to keep up. It is still one of the proudest moments of my life.

I still remember that–“turn towards the way you’re falling.” There’s probably an important life lesson there. But the thing I remember most is that someone believed I could do something, even after I had given up on myself.

Thanks, Richard.

Sock evangelist…

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

This morning, I was on the bus early. Chris left before 5 to catch the bus to the airport (he’s on his way to Easter Island, if you’re curious*) and since I was awake, I decided to just get up and go to the studio. So I’m on the bus, the sun is shining and I’m knitting an orange sock. Because it was so early, there were several empty seats, so I was surprised when a lady sat down immediately next to me. She was obviously on her way to work and I was a little annoyed when her laptop case invaded my personal knitting space.

She watched me knit for awhile and finally turned and said, “So I followed your advice. I’m on my second pair.” Huh? It was early, I’m not a morning person and I’m generally pretty wary (with good reason) of social interactions on the bus.

I must have looked pretty confused, because she said, “Oh– you don’t remember. I was on the bus with you last month when you were knitting the red and blue striped socks and you told me I could knit socks, too. You told me you could barely tie your shoes and so if you could do it, then anyone could. So I went out and got the yarn and Googled the pattern and now I can knit socks, too. You were right.” And then she pulled out her sock to show me.

Another one brought over to the wooly side.

*Note: The camera is on its way to Easter Island with Chris. Don’t ask. I’m so annoyed with myself that I don’t have any pictures to show you. A solution to this camera craziness is simmering– stay tuned.


Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I forgot the camera again. I’m a doofus. I have nothing more to say!

Sugar cookies and… what else?

Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

Last night I made a big batch of sugar cookies. I cut them out into heart shapes. They were really good. Chris ate more than 10.

I’m going to finish knitting my socks this week. They are pink and orange.


I’m just telling you this because I forgot the camera again today, so I can’t show you the paintings I’m working on. That’s frustrating. I guess I’ll just tell you about them.

I’ve done two small landscapes this week– more views from my bedroom windows. One is the view from my porthole on the Anastasis. Well, sort of. I had so many different views, that I chose to paint a view of sailing. I also painted a night scene, because that’s how I remember the view from our bedroom on Water’s Edge Lane.

I’ve worked more on the monumental still life, correcting angles and sharpening edges. And I’ve started a new landscape–it’s a memory of something I saw last fall. The moon was rising through the trees here in the neighborhood and there was a lamp in the window of a house across the street. The brightness of the moon and the lamp in the window were a lovely contrast and I took a picture with my cell phone. And then forgot about it. This week, when I was transferring stuff to my new phone, I found the picture– so now I’m painting it.

Ok, tomorrow I’ll really try to remember the camera to show this stuff. Meanwhile, I’m going to eat a few sugar cookies.

Well, I'm 31.

Monday, April 14th, 2008

I guess it’s time to take off the birthday crown and get to work.

This weekend was lovely. Jaymi at the Frye made a cake for me, then Chris took me out to dinner, and last night the girls at Hysteria brought cupcakes (thanks, Kiana!). I had many happy birthday wishes from strangers (that’s what happens when you wear the birthday crown on the bus) and the weather was beautiful.

Today has dawned cold and grey, though and it’s a reminder that it’s time to settle in for another week and get to work. Pictures tomorrow, when I have the camera with me.

30 things while I was 30.

Saturday, April 12th, 2008


  1. Sing in Public
    Make Mousse au chocolat 10 June 2007
    Go to New York City 2 September 2007
    4. Ski down a hill (or slide down a very snowy and icy mountain– it counts) 22 January 2008
    5. Ride a roller coaster 12 April 2008
    Copy a Masterwork 21 August 2007
    7. Learn to jump rope 26 February 2008 (100 jumps!)
    8. Swim half a mile 14 January 2008
    Tie my shoes in under 30 seconds 3 June 2007
    Make Bananas Foster 27 July 2007
    Grow my own vegetables and cook with them. 10 May 2007
    12. Read
    The Message all the way through 28 March 2008
    Have a Fondue Party 13 April 2007
    14. Make a cheese danish and a
    custard pie (Half done- 29 June 2007)
    Something about dogs 28 July 2007
    Climb a mountain 17 September 2007
    17. Be honest all the time ?
    Publish something 28 May 2007
    19. Sell a piece of artwork 2 March 2008
    Paint a portrait of Chris 1 October 2007
    Drink Veuve Clicquot champagne 13 April 2007
    Read a short story in French 4 June 2007
    Ride in a hot air balloon 24 June 2007 (Thanks, Dad!)
    See the Grand Canyon 25 June 2007 (Thanks again, Dad!)
    Read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance 13 June 2007
    26. Read
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner 18 February 2008
    27. Drive a stick shift 12 March 2008
    Knit a sweater 14 June 2007
    29. Learn to Kayak 14 Dec 2007
    Go to the Symphony 27 April 2007


29 of 30 complete…

Saturday, April 12th, 2008

One year ago I began an adventure. I made a list of 30 things to do while I was 30. I put some wild and crazy things on the list, and some challenging things, and even some small triumphs. I wasn’t sure I would get any of them done, but Chris had more faith in me. He started the year by helping me accomplish three of them on the first day.

This year I have been to the Symphony, had Veuve Clicquot champagne, been to the Grand Canyon, jumped rope, learned to tie my shoes in under 30 seconds, rode in a hot air balloon, climbed a mountain, skied down a hill (sort of), copied a masterpiece, swam half a mile, sang in public and had a fondue party.

I also knit a sweater, drove a stick shift, made bananas foster, made chocolate mousse, learned to kayak, read a short story in French, sang in public, went to New York City, grew my own vegetables and cooked with them, painted a portrait of Chris, read The Message, and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

And I made both of Chris’s favorite desserts, published something, sold a piece of artwork (I actually sold three!), mostly conquered my fear of dogs, was mostly honest all the time, and made a quilt (that wasn’t even on the list).

This afternoon on my lunch hour, my friend Kathy is going to pick me up, I’m going to meet Chris and we’re going to ride a roller coaster at Seattle Center. It’s the last thing on my list and the perfect way to welcome 31. Chris says this year is going to be even better, but I’m not sure. Then again, he was right about 30. We’ll see.

Out of the ordinary

Friday, April 11th, 2008

I’m at the museum today and I normally only post when I’m at my studio, but I think I’m going to shift some things around over the next few weeks and I thought I’d start with this.

It’s a gorgeous day out today– I sat in the sun and drank green tea and ate vegetarian sushi for lunch. I’ve had a low key week. Lots of painting and getting back in to a rhythm with life. I’ve been a bit out of my groove for a while now. First I was sick for nearly three weeks, then Chris was away which always throws me for a loop. Then my sister’s wedding and the trip to Alabama. I’m hoping for a bit of quiet and order for awhile now. I know I paint best when there’s a certain pattern to my days.

But– warmer weather is coming and Chris is already planning is next big adventure, so I know this respite won’t last long. Soon I’ll be back to crazy-ness and uncertainty. It’s all part of the fun that is my life. I like it that way mostly, but for now I’ll enjoy these few mundane days.