Uncertain | Nate Silver

I became a big Nate Silver fan in 2008 when I was working on a video art project called, Election Diary. I started the project before the Conventions knowing that, regardless of who won, it would be an historic election.

Nate is a statistician who started in sportsball and went on to politics. In the 2008 election, he successfully picked which way 49 of 50 states would vote. At the time, I lived in the DC area and loved getting super geeked out on the minutiae of politics—and followed a lot of wonky political forecasters and commenters. Nate was the Uber Wonk in this world. His data and reporting were very reliable. His forecasts were consistently on the money.

So in 2016, I turned to his reporting again. What were the odds? What was he forecasting? In 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2014, he was so accurate. If he forecast it, you could count on it.

Except something different happened this time.

In the lead up to the 2016 election, I was very nervous, but not completely terrified. Nate’s reporting showed Clinton holding a substantial lead in the polls. One or two polls that were outliers calling for her opponent, but Nate continued to be confident—and as Nate went, so did I. I was confident. Any other choice than her seemed like a non-starter. So I sent money into the Clinton’s campaign. I thought a lot about phone banking, but always seemed busy so I didn’t ever volunteer. I wrote social media posts urging my like-minded friends to vote. I was addicted to his 538.com website and kept pressing “refresh” to stay up to date as election day drew near, but I took comfort in the 87% chance of winning that Nate predicted. And, well, her opponent won.

I had many thoughts and feelings in the aftermath of November 8, 2016, and among them were: “Nate?! What happened? How could you be so wrong?” It turns out Nate had those same thoughts. In the time since, he’s said in the lead up to the 2016 election he stopped operating like a statistician, and started thinking like a political commentator and it made him miss some important points of data.

So this time, I’m not looking at polls. It’s too scary. I still follow Nate on Twitter, but I don’t read the articles; I don’t go to his website. I see comments and move on. I’ve been more active this time—volunteering every week since late summer with Americans of Conscience Checklist. I’ve mailed Postcards to Vote. I have conversations with friends and family—encouraging people to vote and to help others vote. I hope it’s enough.

But right now, I’m uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo

 

Photo I took with my own camera at the 2009 Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. I was there. It was a 14 hour day and I must have walked 10 miles to be there. But I was there. It was magical.

Photo I took with my own camera at the 2009 Inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama. I was there. It was a 14 hour day and I must have walked 10 miles to be there. But I was there. It was magical.

Uncertain | At the Canvas

“I don’t even know why you bother. This is garbage. Worse. It’s like Thomas Kincaid. Are you the freaking Painter of Light (TM) now? Is that who you’ve become? I thought this meant something to you. You’re a joke. Look at that thing. It’s so...it’s so generic. Why do you even bother? What is your problem? You’re down here day and night. You’ve invested tens of thousands of dollars. Countless hours. Decades. And for what? That’s the best you’ve got? THAT? Just stop. Stop it. Stop it,” I said to myself.  

It’s called imposter syndrome.

It leaves me uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo #impostersyndrome

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It starts at a whisper. It’s hard to hear at first. This uncertainty.

It starts at a whisper. It’s hard to hear at first. This uncertainty.

Uncertain | Voting

Since I have been eligible to vote, there have been maybe just two or three elections I haven’t voted in. I am a naturalized American citizen—I was born in England and we came to the U.S. when I was two years old.

My parents were politically active in England and used to go door to door, canvasing for their candidates. We lived in the States for fourteen years before they became citizens and could vote—so they instilled in me the urgency and importance of voting. Every. Single. Election. I vote in the big elections, in the local elections, in the mid term elections. Hell, I even overnight mailed in my absentee ballot from England, where I was studying my junior year of college. It was that important (and, yes, I had procrastinated that much).

In 2016, the people who could but did not vote decided the outcome. About 47% of registered voters in the U.S. didn’t vote. If they had voted, the outcome may have been different.

I have since 8 pm Pacific time on November 8, 2016—when Florida went red—had a rough, woolen blanket of anxiety wrapped around my solar plexus. It goes with me everywhere. It makes me feel vaguely nauseated every day. It can keep me from breathing deeply. For two years. Feeling like I need to puke and can’t breathe—for two years. It’s like a dull terror. What will happen. What will happen. What will happen. Can I breathe. Will I breathe. What will happen. What will happen.

And it’s the height of privilege that I’ve only had this blanket for two years. Millions world wide, and here in the U.S. have lived with this dull terror every day of their lives as subjects of systematized racism. Much of my work for the last two years has been to learn them how you go on. How you function when your blanket of anxiety is squeezing you, keeping you from breathing.

I’ve learned you take action—whatever action you can. You get out of your comfort zone. You stretch. You talk to others. Create community. Have real conversations about what matters. Check in on your gay, lesbian, trans, black, brown, Jewish, and marginalized friends. See how they are doing. You exercise. You breathe deep. You meditate. You find some way to express yourself creatively. You eat more vegetables and less sugar. But you keep taking action.

We need checks and balances back in our system—which means having at least the House of Representatives or Senate go blue—and right now I’m not sure we will get them. And if we don’t, it is very dark what comes next.

There it is. The blanket of anxiety wraps tighter the closer we get to next Tuesday, November 6. There are times, I’m not sure I can manage it. Manage the anxiety. The dull terror. I am new to this. By virtue of the accident the life and skin color I was born into, I am new to this.

We have seen the erosion of norms I had taken for granted as a white, middle-class, suburban child growing up in New England. I had taken for granted that the U.S. would always be a democracy. Taken for granted that, as a naturalized citizen, I would always be able vote. Taken for granted that, as a woman, I would always be able to vote. It was naïve. I know that now. There is nothing we can take for granted. All of it is at stake.

It is uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo

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Uncertain | Mory and the Raccoon

Before a week ago Wednesday, I was knew one thing: if anyone ever tried to attack me while I was walking my dog—a gorgeous, earnest, and funny Golden Retriever Chow Chow mix—he would overwhelm them. A sweet, playful, and cuddly Retriever indoors, Mory turns into a barking tornado outdoors. All sorts of things set him off—squirrels (natch), bunnies, crows, pigeons, cats, other dogs, kids with backpacks, kids on skateboards, bicycles, any form of public transit, trucks, and even babies in strollers. We rescued him as an adult dog, so my work with him has been to mitigate the torrent of barking as much as I can with Rocco and Roxie’s beef jerky treats.

At first his behavior exhausted me, but over time I came to understand this was his Chow Chow side and he was protecting me. As a petite woman, having a dog with guard dog instincts suddenly gave me more confidence. I felt really safe with him. While still sensible, I felt more comfortable about taking walks on my own, as long as I had Mory. I knew he would at least raise an alarm and give us a chance to fight back or get away if we were in peril.

And then we were attacked.

It was late in the day, almost 11 p.m., and we went out for our usual last quick walk of the day. We were just outside out our front door when Mory saw a raccoon in the cedar tree in our front yard. We’ve seen raccoons there before and never had a problem--he barks; they go up the tree; we go on our way. No problem.

This night, as usual, he started barking. “You tell him,” I said—not knowing. Not knowing how dangerous raccoons could be if they felt threatened. Not knowing until seconds before that there was an adult baby raccoon up in the tree and this was its mother who was going to protect it. And then in a flash I knew. The raccoon stopped, stared, adn then ran at Mory, attacking him viciously—biting and scratching. I was screaming, trying to pull Mory off the path and back into the house. The force of the attack pushed them into our driveway. Mory was screaming. I was screaming. And in that moment I noticed I was alone. No one was coming. We were alone.

I kept pulling and pulling, and screaming and screaming, trying to get us back into the house. I got us closer. And then I heard my a voice in my head say calmly, “Kick it.” I did. "Get off my Dog!" Again and again. I got the 40 lb. beast off of Mory. We ran to the porch and got part way up the stairs. The raccoon followed and kept attacking Mory’s feet and tail. Mory was screaming. I was screaming. We were alone. I kept pulling and pulling. Screaming and screaming. I unlocked the door. I pulled him in. I closed the door…on his foot. Mory screamed. The raccoon was still on his foot. Chewing his foot. Its nose was over the threshold. “Not in my house. Not in my house. It cannot come in my house,” another voice in my head said. I got a glancing kick at its head and it was enough. It startled, let go, I pulled Mory’s foot in and slammed the door.

We were safe. He had bites and scratches, but did not need stitches. His thick Chow Chow coat and his grit protected him. He protected me from getting bitten or scratched. I got him to safety. He protected me at his own peril. I made sure he and the house were safe.

But for both of us, the incident has left us uncertain. We are even more alert when we go out. I carry a bright flashlight and something I can throw. We don’t go on a morning walk until the sun rises. I don’t assume I am safe anymore. I am jumpy. Mory is jumpy. He is more reactive to the squirrels, bunnies, cats, and people on wheels and buses.

We are uncertain.

#UncertainDispatches #NaNoWriMo #roccoandroxie

 

Mory in his cone, the day after we were attacked.

Mory in his cone, the day after we were attacked.

Turning Fiddy

I turned 50 this year. Well, I like to say I turned fiddy as that sounds much less AARPish than “FIFTY!!” I’ve been thinking a lot about what that means for me, for my family, for my peers.

I am proudly part of the cynical, sarcastic GenX generation. We were kids in the 70s and early 80s. On Amazon Prime/Netflix, my peers are Paige in The Americans and Lorelei Gilmore (the second one). I used to go to my friends’ houses by walking or riding my bike. Long distance phone calls cost a lot of money. There were maybe four TV stations. I rode the school bus and had no after school activities, other than occasional Girl Scout meetings. I was part of the first wave of “latch key” kids because my Mum began working full time when I was about ten or so.

I had access to a suburban U.S., middle class white girl’s generally typical childhood. With two notable exceptions:

  • I was (and am) an artist, and
  • I am an immigrant, now naturalized citizen.

I’m going to start writing more about turning 50 because for whatever somewhat random math reason, it’s a milestone number and that has an effect on how we approach the world. Well, at least for me it does. Maybe it’s just me? I’ll post here and on my blog. If you want to follow along look for #SarahFiddy

Sarah Fiddy.jpg

New horizons in "What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?" (literally), Part I (from August 11, 2018)

If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that watercolor landscapes have entered into the What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? series--although now that's called What 3 (Landscape) Colors Bring You Joy?

How did that happen?

The summer road trip my husband and I took was a great adventure for us and changed my paintings, at least for now. I’m still painting What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?—but now I’m playing with 3 color landscapes.

I love living in Seattle but hadn’t yet visited much of the rest of the state. Back in June, we decided rather last minute to go on a road trip around Washington state. The drive was gorgeous. If you haven’t been to Washington state, there are all sorts of climates to experience--from Alpines, like Switzerland, to temperate rain forests, to high deserts like New Mexico, forests, farms, canyons, and on and on. And it’s all beautiful.

As we drove past all these scenes, my desire to return to landscape painting grew. By the fourth day of trying (and failing) to paint the scenery with my Fluid Acrylics, I knew I had to make a change. To get the paintings to come out the way I wanted, to my surprise, I realized I needed to go back to my old friend—watercolors.

Okay, I'll pause there. More on that story in my next blog!

And remember, wherever you go this week, be sure to look for joy. It's there. I promise.

("You Matter," the painting below, is On Reserve.)

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Creating art vs. rendering (from July 31, 2018)

“Making art is not simply rendering.”
—Barbara Earl Thomas

I was lucky enough to hear Barbara Earl Thomas talk about the intersection of her work as a museum director and her process as an artist recently. There was so much that resonated for me, particularly this—that as an artist my job is not to render. Rendering is not making art.

What that meant to me is that my job is to bring myself, my own reality to what I am seeing, thinking, feeling, and or experiencing to what I create.

Photos and copying machines do a better job at rendering than I ever could. And replicating what is seen, for me, is not the point of what I do.

I want to communicate with you, to share with you.

And so I change the reality of what I see when I make art. I am doing the work, the labor of making something that never existed before, because until I made it—without me—it *cannot* exist.

I am curious about how what I make affects YOU—what do YOU see, what do YOU think, what do YOU feel—when you see my work? What does it evoke for you? I most want you to feel lighter, to feel joy, to have some respite. It may not always do that but that’s what I want...more joy for you.

I want to show you my process, so you can see the choices I made and how they differ from the source photo--and get some insight into the enormous number of decisions that goes into each work. I normally would shy from showing you the source, because what I painted is different. But a life without taking chances is far less interesting.

So here we go. On the left, the inspiration photos. Then, on the right, the paintings.

Take gentle care of yourself. Look for joy. I promise it is there.

Inspiration_Landscapes_July_2018_WEB.jpeg

Time to rest and create some joy...how about you? (from May 21, 2018)

It's been a busy year of making Joy in the studio! Five solo shows (four of them with totally new paintings), painting and posting (just about) every day since January 1, and creating several beautiful commissioned works. It's been glorious and so much fun!

Now that the shows are wrapped, I'm catching up a bit and looking at what's ahead. I posted a lot of new art on Instagram and Facebook yesterday as I had taken a much-needed breather for a few days. For me, that's meant catching up on sleep, baking, visiting with friends, cycling, cleaning up my studio, playing board games, watching the Royal Wedding, drinking tea...all that "normal" stuff. I've also been thinking a lot about how to refine my goals and ambition so I don't burn out.

How about you? How are you doing? I know a lot of my parenting friends are trying to keep heads above water with all the end of the school year "fun" and school projects. My student friends are trying to get through mid-terms and finals. It seems like there are loads of events, travel, and work projects for many of my friends and colleagues.

The warmth and long days of spring are so welcome...just maybe not all the To Dos!

So as the Artist who Brings You Joy, I want you to consider this blog post as your permission slip to skip something--cancel a plan, ask someone for help, have your kids make their lunch this week, eat out/order in, call your dog walker to cover a couple of walks--and use that time to do something for you!

I'm back in the studio and have some fun ideas to paint What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?...but inspired by 3 colors from landscape paintings. If you have a favorite landscape you'd like to see translated into a What 3 Colors Bring You Joy painting, please send it by reply email or post to my studio Facebook page!

Until next time, take care of you. Find some joy. It's there. I promise.

Finding love, finding joy (from May 2, 2018)

In my last email I wrote about losing love and taking care of ourselves, so let’s swing the pendulum the other way this week.

Let’s talk about finding love and finding joy this week.

Finding Love, Finding Joy

The end of May marks thirteen years that I’ve been divorced from my then-husband and this past week marked the seven year “meetaversary" of my husband Tom and I met. That six year gap felt like dog years, some days. I knew I wanted a life partner, which for me was a husband, and a family...and just something different. I wanted adventure. Even a new city to live in after being in Washington DC area for twenty years. And then one night in April seven years ago, I had a date with a retired Marine who made me laugh and made me think, even on our first phone call together. And soon after the adventures began--moving cross-country to Seattle, meeting new friends, exploring new places, learning a new culture, re-establishing my studio space, and finding my calling by creating the series, "What 3 Colors Bring You Joy?" By creating a life that brought me joy, I have been able to share that joy with you through my art.

If you are in that place now--of knowing what you want and also knowing you're not there just yet--keep going. Hold on to that vision of what you want for your life. Keep taking steps that move you in that direction. Don't worry about how long it may take or that you started late. It may not unfold the way you thought, but keep going. And if you are an artist, writer, performer, protect your art and keep practicing. We need you. We need more creative, positive energy in this world and you are just the person to do it. Trust me.

Losing love and taking care (from April 22, 2018)

I woke up this morning to news that a friend's wife passed away after fighting ovarian cancer for two years. I am heart broken for her husband, daughter, their family, and friends. And, honestly, it's had me kind of paralyzed and teary today. There's all sorts of cliched thoughts running through my head, but what lingers are echoes of other losses. One of my family lost a very beloved friend recently. My cousin's beloved son who passed away six years ago. Ted, my painting mentor, who passed away 12 years ago. More. Too many more.

I'm not really sure what to write--or even if I should share this to you--but it feels important. Grieving, letting in and letting out the sadness and anger, feels so important. If you are struggling with loss, I hope you have some love you can lean into for support, whether family, a trusted friend, or counselor. That connection with others will help soften the jagged edges of grief.

And, while we are here, please get that thing checked. You know. That thing. I wrote this week on Instagram about my follow up eye appointment--and how 18 months ago I'd had to have emergency eye treatment. My recovery is going well and my doctor said now everything is stable. The procedure averted riskier and more invasive surgery. And that's where I implore you to get that thing checked. I'd had flashes in my vision, but didn't understand the level of risk I was in...until I called the nurse line, described my symptoms, and she booked my appointment that same morning. So whatever that thing is for you (as one friend said, when you hit a certain age, there are a lot of "things!"), please get it checked.

Thank you for reading and for taking care of your loved ones...and especially yourself.

Here is some healing heart chakra green joy for you. Sending you the peace and fresh air of a walk in the woods.

"Deep Forest" dark green lighter green and gray 04/14/18 #103 5"x7" Acrylic on YUPO.

01142018

“I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

1/14/18 14/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

Love II” pink red white from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

Love II” pink red white from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01132018

 “I have decided to stick to love...Hate is too great a burden to bear.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

1/13/18 13/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

 “Love” orange pink white from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

 “Love” orange pink white from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01112018

1/11/18 11/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Brave” Blue Green Orange from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Brave” Blue Green Orange from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01102018

1/10/18 10/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“In the Seaweeds” Blue GreenWhite from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“In the Seaweeds” Blue GreenWhite from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01092018

1/9/18 9/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Depth” Blue Gold White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Depth” Blue Gold White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01082018

1/8/18 8/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Fire” Red Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Fire” Red Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01072018

1/7/18 7/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Fury” Gold Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Fury” Gold Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01062018

1/6/18 6/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Circus” Turquoise Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Circus” Turquoise Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

01052018

1/5/18 5/365 in 2018. I am creating & posting a painting a day in 2018!

New Joy & Art daily! Follow, like, comment @artistgu3 #paintingaday #365paintings

“Tapestry” Green Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD

“Tapestry” Green Yellow White from What 3 Colors Bring You Joy? (c) 2018–5”x7” Acrylic on YUPO paper $95 USD