Jolie Guillebeau

Archive for November, 2012

Day 3: Mumbai

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

“A mystery is only a high sounding term for a muddle. No advantage in stirring it up, in either case. Aziz and I know well that India is a muddle.” — E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

While I’m traveling, I’m still painting. But since watercolors fit in my carry-on suitcase more easily than a giant canvas, I’m sending “Postcards” from this adventure instead.

We landed in Mumbai just after 1am local time, which was 4am Hong Kong time, and I didn’t even try to figure out what time it was in Portland. I’ve learned in these cases it’s best to just forget that you ever owned a watch at home. Ignore the idea that while you’re trying to sleep, everyone else you know is eating lunch. Just focus on actually getting to sleep.

As is often the case, getting to sleep took a while. First, there was a delay at the gate. Then a long line at immigration. Of course, there was a different line for customs. And just as we thought we were free– a final line to have our bags scanned as we left the terminal.

We found our driver, then he found his car after a frantic search through the parking garage, and then he found our hotel after stopping to ask for directions several times. Even at 3am, my first impressions of Mumbai were chaotic and busy. I was tired, had the sniffles and was a little overwhelmed.

We arrived at the hotel, made our way up to the room and crashed quickly– Chris’s first event was only five hours away, and we knew we needed at least a couple of hours to sleep.

Fortunately, jet lag worked in our favor. We woke up at 7am refreshed and ready to start the day. I walked to the window, eager to see Mumbai in daylight and saw this instead.

Day 1: Hong Kong

Sunday, November 25th, 2012

Travel is the most private of pleasures. There is no greater bore than the travel bore. We do not in the least want to hear what he has seen in Hong Kong. — Vita Sackville West

While I’m traveling, I’m still painting. But since watercolors fit in my carry-on suitcase more easily than a giant canvas, I’m sending “Postcards” from this adventure instead.

I’m still not sure what day it is. I’m writing in the wee hours of the morning, on my second day of the adventure. (The advantage of jet-lag: early morning productivity)

Yesterday morning we arrived in Hong Kong for a short stopover on our way to India. Chris has been to Hong Kong many times, but I’ve never been, and we were both excited to see things together.

But it seemed that we brought the weather from Portland with us.  It was rainy and a little chilly. Neither of us had any rain gear, but we just decided to go for it anyway– it wasn’t raining that hard.

So we walked down to the harbor and hopped on the Star Ferry, which made a short trip across Victoria Harbour to Kowloon. The clouds were low– a few of the taller buildings seemed to disappear in the sky– but the water was very bright, and the colors were   muted, but still obvious.

Chris commented that he’d never seen the ferry so empty, and that’s when we checked the time. Traveler tip: you’ll have Hong Kong all to yourself at 7am on a rainy Sunday morning.


Thursday, November 22nd, 2012

“Trust your heart if the seas catch fire, live by love though the stars walk backward.” — e.e. cummings

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

I’m terrible at decisions. I can never decide where to sit in the movies, what to have for lunch can be agonizing, and picking out what to wear is frustrating some mornings.

But making the decision to paint this big painting was a good one.


Monday, November 19th, 2012

Not what we have but what we enjoy, constitutes our abundance. –Epicurus

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

Last week, I talked about my Eight Guiding Values, and some of you asked about the other seven, so I thought I’d work my way back. Number seven is Abundance. And I remembered why today.

Sometimes it’s a small thing that provides a shift in perspective.

I had a very short encounter with a Debby Downer yesterday. It didn’t last more than three minutes, but I thought about it for the rest of the day.

In our three minute encounter, she managed to complain five times. She started with the weather– it was a gorgeous sunny day in Portland, but she said it was too cold. Then she complained about the wait (we were in line at the grocery store), the prices, and the customer service all in one breath. I also got to hear about her family– her kids are ungrateful and grumpy all the time.

Honestly, I worked pretty hard to keep a straight face over the last one. Thankfully, I was rescued by the cashier and her complaints were directed to someone else after that.

I spent a few minutes walking home grateful for my groceries, for the good weather and for my happy heart.


Saturday, November 17th, 2012

“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” –Ernest Hemingway

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

Yesterday I returned to TaeKwonDo after a six week break. My biopsy in late September required a little more recovery than I anticipated, so I feel like I’m starting right back at square one in some ways.

Except I’m starting as a yellow belt. Woo-hoo!

And as a yellow belt, I get to break boards. Which I did  yesterday morning for the first time ever.

Let me repeat that for proper dramatic effect. I, Jolie Guillebeau, PE class dunce, broke a board with my foot yesterday morning.

It was a thin board, but it was still a board. And I broke it.

Both Sides Now

Friday, November 16th, 2012

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.” –Joni Mitchell

“”I’m a painter first, and a musician second…” –Joni Mitchell

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

I’ve always had an affinity for Joni Mitchell songs. Maybe because my maiden name was Mitchell and my mom’s name is Joni, or maybe because there’s such a visual aspect to her music. (She’s a painter, too.)

So I wasn’t too surprised to find “Both Sides Now” stuck in my head this afternoon as I put the finishing touches on this square. When I stopped to consider why, at first I thought it was because I was painting clouds, but then I realized I’d just told someone that now both sides of the canvas were symmetrical. Every painted square matches the square that corresponds to it on the opposite side.

I’ll show you the whole canvas tomorrow, but for now here’s another view of the horizon.


Monday, November 12th, 2012

“‘The best thing for being sad,’ replied Merlin, beginning to puff and blow, ‘is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.'” –T.H. White, The Once and Future King

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

Yesterday I didn’t plan well. I rushed from one thing to the next, and didn’t realize until late afternoon that I actually needed to eat something. Suddenly I was hungry, but only had two minutes to spare before my next student arrived.

As I practically swallowed a banana whole, I thought to myself, “Why do I do this at the end of the day? Is teaching these few students really worth it? Am I just wearing myself out for nothing?”

Then I put on my happy face and opened the door. My 12 year old student bounced in and the first thing out of her mouth was, “I’m so excited about class today!”

And I had my answer.


Thursday, November 8th, 2012

“An artist is not paid for his labor but for his vision.” — James Whistler 

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

Friday morning I got some bad news. It’s not terrible news, but I’m not that excited about it either.

In 2005, I had LASIK surgery. The day after my surgery, my vision was already better than 20/20 and for a few years it was kind of magic to be able to see street signs or details that I’d been missing before.  I’d worn glasses or contact lenses since I was 5, and it was amazing to be able to see from the moment I opened my eyes every morning.

But a couple of months ago, I noticed that I couldn’t see quite as well as before, and last week when I didn’t recognize an acquaintance until she was right in front of me I decided it was time to go to the eye doctor.

And just as I was expecting, we discovered that my eyes had reverted and I’ll need glasses.

I’m not happy about it. I’ve really enjoyed the past seven years of hassle-free vision, but I’m trying to make the best of it. Since contacts aren’t a good option anymore, I’m looking for the cutest possible pair of glasses and reminding myself that I need to take care of my vision– it’s the thing that makes these paintings possible.



Monday, November 5th, 2012

“Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve started a big project. You can see how it’s progressing from the links at the bottom.

As I type, I can always look above my desk at a gray bulletin board  of inspiration. There’s a strip of photos from the photo booth at the Ace Hotel, a Polaroid of my first real bikeEleanor, quotes from Julian of Norwich and Jen Lee and a list of my 8 Guiding Values.

I made this list a few years ago as a way to filter my choices. When I’m faced with a tough decision, I’ve learned to check in with those 8 values. Does my choice fit those ideals? Then the answer is yes– even if it’s a challenging task. If not, then I check in and figure out what doesn’t fit.

Number eight on that list is a concept that didn’t fit one single word. I call it “building” when I need a single word, but on the list it’s written as:


This week so many of you have encouraged me, that I remember why this matters. As you know, I’ve doubted this project along the way. It’s a big thing full of uncertainty– I’ve never done anything like it before.

But your emails and words keep me painting everyday. And that encouragement helps me live out the other seven values on my list.

It’s Friday, so I’m going to show you how it’s progressing.

Memory. 30×30 inches. Oil on Canvas.

Square 19 of 49 (it’s the third square on the first row)

An archive of this project can be found here. You’ll be able to see every square as they continue to form a whole painting.