Saturday, May 29, 2010

bye bye boston

I bet you all can guess why I haven't posted in a week. Today the truck gets packed up and we are headed out on the open road tomorrow morning. It should take us about a week to get to Portland, OR with the route we are taking. I will try to update a couple times along the way. Wish us luck!

A photo of me and the UHaul on our trip from Portland to Boston about three years ago. Here we go again :)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

written artwork - frankenstein

Before a few months ago, the Frankenstein in my head was like this picture. Mean looking...but almost handsome. Tall. Often green. With metal rods coming out of his neck.

Now I think that is just plain weird. Where did this picture come from? Because it is simply nothing like the book. The character in my mind is dumb, the one in the book is smart. The character in my mind walks stiff and slow, the one in the book has super human agility and speed. In my mind he is a monster, in the book he is just lonely.

I fell in love with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The story is great, but I think the real reason I love it is because it was so surprising to me. The story was truly nothing like I thought it would be. And that was fun.

Instead of being a horror story, Frankenstein is a journey through the human social world. It is about a creature learning what life is. What is hunger. What is speech. What are relationships. What is loneliness. What is acceptance. It is almost like a story of an alien coming to Earth and learning our customs and social practices are. You get to see our way of life through new eyes, and it's very powerful.

This novel is a perfect example of why I want to read these classics. I've heard of the story and I thought I knew the premise. But then I read it and learned why it became a classic in the first place.

A list of what's to come, and what has already been explored.

My Written Artwork Journey Explained
  1. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  2. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Emma - Jane Austen
  4. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  5. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof - Tennessee Williams
  6. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  7. Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson
  8. Frankenstein - Mary Shelley
  9. The Canterbury Tales - Geoffrey Chaucer
  10. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
  11. Nineteen Eighty-four - George Orwell
  12. Death of a Salesman - Arthur Miller
  13. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
  14. The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
  15. The Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  16. Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson
  17. Pickwick Papers - Charles Dickens
  18. Catch-22 - Joseph Heller
  19. The Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
  20. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  21. Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
  22. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  23. Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
  24. The sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
  25. Their Eyes Were Watching God - Zora Neale Hurston
  26. Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
  27. Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  28. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  29. Little Woman - Louisa Ma Alcott
  30. Crime and Punishment - Fedor Dostoyevsky
  31. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  32. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak
  33. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Mark Twain
  34. Alls Quiet on the Western Front - Erich Maria Remarque
  35. Sherlock Holmes - Arthur Conan Doyle
  36. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
  37. The Red Badge of Courage - Stephen Crane
  38. Robinson Crusoe - Daniel Defoe
  39. Tales - Edgar Allan Poe
  40. Diary of a Madman and Other Stories - Nikolai Gogol
  41. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  42. A Farewell To Arms - Ernest Hemingway
  43. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen

Photo Courtesy

Monday, May 17, 2010

dick blick - why i buy

Want in on a little secret? I buy all my painting supplies from Dick Blick Art Supplies.

Okay, okay, lame secret. Lots of people know about this company, but maybe you haven't. And if you have, maybe you don't know how awesome it actually is.

I first learned about Dick Blick when I moved to Boston and happened upon one of their brick and mortar stores. I walked in and it was like an artists wonderland. Huge! And pretty darn good deals. But then....I found their website. And I just about died. Again. And Again.

Let me break down why Dick Blick is such a good deal, particularly for canvases and painting supplies.

1. Bulk Discounts - I buy pre stretched canvases that are 3/4" thick like these. They are already a pretty good deal at full price, but if I buy 10 or more, the price is pretty much cut in half. Half! And you can even get a better deal if you buy 20 or more. The reason I pretty much stick to a few particular sizes is because I buy in bulk.

2. Delivery Charges - If you spend over $200 online you get free delivery. Free! And when you buy in bulk, you can pretty easily get over that $200. Anything under that amount only cost $6.95 to ship though...still not bad.

3. Discount Codes -
On the home page at Dick Blick they ALWAYS have a coupon code you can use to get further discounts. Usually it is a graduated amount you get off the entire order depending on how much you spend (on the photo above they are advertising $10-20 off, if you want to see an example). Since I buy in bulk and try to get over $200 for free delivery, I always get the highest amount taken off. Last time I bought supplies it was $40 off when you spend $200. So not only did I get half off the price of each canvas because of bulk prices, then I got an additional $40 off the entire thing!
Seriously....this is what I bought last time I ordered (it's a ton because I am painting like crazy this summer before we go to Europe):

- 8.5oz tubes of paint (that's the large size)

- 32oz tubes of white paint (I go through white like crazy)

- new paint palette

- palette knives

- canvases of various sizes (that's way too many! haha)

Total cost - $470

That is enough supplies for 120 paintings. My paintings range anywhere from $20-$75. If we average it out to $45 per painting, that is $5400! Of course I have other expenses to account for...and I have to actually sell 120 paintings, but those numbers look good to me :)
So, go check out Dick Blick today!

Related Articles
Dirksen Dollars - More about the state of my finances

Acrylic Paint for Beginners - Now you know where to buy paint, here's how to start!
My New Method - one way I use all that paint

Friday, May 14, 2010

life in paint

Someone once asked me a pretty fantastic question. Which of your paintings would you most want to live in?!

So, I immediately started looking through the paintings and decided on a few that would be pretty sweet.

Something about the color of the water just puts me at ease, and who wouldn't want to swim around with that cute little friend!

Pink Dusk
Sittin' on a bench watching THAT sunset? awesome.

Once sailed with a couple friends and it was one of the most relaxing and beautiful experiences I've ever had. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

What painting would I not want to live in?

Fire kinda seems like a big wave of fire. And that kinda seems like Hell.

Talk about a great question! What about you? Any works of art you want to live in?

Related Articles
Doors - Some places I actually have been that have inspired paintings
Commissioned Artwork - A place someone else has been they wanted me to paint
A Favorite - One of my all time favorite paintings...wouldn't necessarily want to live in it though

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

lessons from mass transit

One blog post a week is far from my goal here at Dirksen Dabbles....I apologize the moving process has ripped me away from writing so much! Since I am leaving Boston in less than three weeks (ahhhh!), I have begun my pre-nostalgia stage. It's what happens when I look around while walking or getting groceries and think, "I better soak it all in...because it will all be gone so soon."

My Boston life is very different in a practical way from my previous life in Portland, OR. One of the major differences is the lack of a car. At first, I was scared to death to live without a vehicle. How do people live with out them? I couldn't possible imagine. But over the past few years I have grown to profoundly respect and love mass transit for a number of reasons. I love it so much that I am actually dreading going back to the automobile lifestyle.

Believe it or not, riding the subway system has greatly aided my artistic ventures. Because you don't have to actually be in charge of driving the train, riders get to simply sit or stand and use the time to their benefit. This usually means I read and it has greatly helped me in my Written Artwork Journey. I so value the 30 minutes it takes to get to and from work where I get to escape into a great story.

On top of being a great chance to read, subway time has also been a great opportunity for brainstorming sessions. I have one of those baby memo pads that every once in a while I pull out and start doodling. I look around me as we travel down the road and draw things I see or things that pop into my head. Sometimes these lead to paintings. Here are some fun examples of what I doodled and the paintings that transpired.

Do you have any forced down time that you utilize for your creative process? Do you have to create a brainstorming time? Love to hear how you all work!

Related Articles:
Inspiration - Fire Escape - Sometimes I get inspiration from my photographs instead of doodles
Efforts in Custom Painting - Inspiration that came from someone else's photograph
Acrylic painting for Beginners - What to do after the doodle process :)

Monday, May 3, 2010

moving on

Some serious changes are coming for the Dirksen household in the very near future. I try not to include an over abundance of personal activity that doesn't directly correlate to my artwork in this blog, but since this activity is somewhat extreme, I thought you all might want to know. The blog is most likely going to be showing signs of these changes as well, so it's a good idea to keep everyone in the loop.

I currently live in the beautiful city of Boston, MA. My husband and I moved here from the Portland, OR area about three years ago for him to get his masters at Boston University. Well, the husband is graduating in the middle of May, so it's time to move on from this place.

My unbelievable smart, intelligent, and capable husband has been accepted into a second master's program in which three different universities collaborate together. This means a visit to each university. Here's the plan (we don't know specific dates yet, I apologize for the vague time line).


May 30 - We will pack up all our belongings in a U-Haul, which we will drive across the country, back to Portland, OR

June 7 - Mid September - We will live like homeless people with friends/family, having all our belongings in a storage facility

Mid September - We will board a plane bound for Europe

Mid September - Late December - We will live in Leuven, Belgium for the first third of the masters program for my husband


Early January - Late March - We will live in Nijmegen, The Netherlands for the second third of the masters program

Early April - Late June - We will live in Padua, Italy for the last third of the masters program

Early July - We will board a plane bound for Portland, OR

July - Forever - Unknown - We will live....and I think very happily :)

During this time, I will have a job when it's possible, but my primary focus will be Dirksen Dabbles. I will paint if I can. If not, I will paint as much as I possibly can before I leave for Europe and simply continue the behind the scenes operations. This blog will probably be my lifeline to normalcy.

To say the least, I am overwhelmed. During the next 13 months, I will move 5 times. Three of those times it will be to places I have never been and do not even speak the language. I am also completely excited at the same time and cannot wait to share this crazy adventure with each of you.

Stay tuned!

Photo Courtesy:
Leuven -
Nijmegen - Padua -