Menopause and other such tidbits

Wednesday, April 30, 2008 at 6:38 PM

I began this blog with the idea that it would be nice to have a visual record of my creative side. Slowly it found it's own course to follow with occasional drifts into other areas of my life. I like it like that; you get to see several facets of who I am.

I thought I should share the things in my life that have kept me so occupied.  At times the stress of it all gets to me, but all is falling into place now and I'm feeling myself again.  Thank you to many of you who expressed concern.

Nothing really earth shattering, but enough going on to frazzle me for a time. The most significant has been a sudden onset of menopause. It didn't come on gradually and I had no idea it was coming. One day two weeks after my last very regular and normal period I woke to a cycle of hot flashes and night sweats around the clock. A couple of weeks into it I counted the hot flashes.....over 30 during waking hours! On my weekend to San Francisco to see my BFF Tricia we both had to laugh over my situation! But this cycle quickly got old and none of the herbal remedies eased symptoms. One day at work I just lost it; from non stop hot flashes, sleep deprivation, etc....and just sobbed for 1/2 an hour. A few days later I saw my PA who said, "let's discuss HRT (hormone replacement therapy)” I said, "no discussion needed, I'll do anything to stop this!" So, now I wear the Combi-patch and am proud of it! I'll show my patch on my lower belly to anyone who asks!  A week later I was feeling so much better!!!!  (my co-workers are also very happy I am on HRT)
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Next major development was I finally had my appointment with a cornea specialist out of UCLA. A bit of medical history: I was born with congenital glaucoma, it was diagnosed at 6 mo. of age but by then I had already lost the vision in my left eye. With surgery the disease was halted and I was left with good eyesight in my right eye. 50 years later the disease came back and I had surgery once again and responded well. But for several years now my eyesight has gotten worse and I no longer can read newspapers, magazines or books unless it's early in the day and I have good light.
The news from the specialist was disheartening. My corneas are basically healthy, just really damaged from previous surgeries. He said no one would be willing to operate on my eye because if things didn't go well I would be left possibly blind in that eye as well. He gave me referrals to the Braile institute and the Low Vision Center in Santa Monica.  Oh well!  He did say that the progression of my poor eyesight would be gradual and over several years. I was alone and when I got in the car to come home I couldn't see as all the eye drops had left my eyes quite dilated.
I was 70 miles from home. So glad I have membership to the Auto Club! They towed my car home and I rode in the tow truck!   I'm sure the tow truck driver thought I must be drunk or on drugs!  Go ahead and laugh, I did!
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The next big ticket item in my basket is school. I sometimes feel like I took on too much here. Attending a college class involves homework, research papers and projects!!! I am learning so much even if I do feel overwhelmed. I have one week to complete 3 master studies,  a group research project on German Expressionism....go ahead, ask me anything about it, I have it all up here (pointing to head), and a paper on an artist of my choice: Kathe Kollwitz.  Learning is fun and I know once all is complete I will be very proud of my accomplishments.

This week in figure class we are doing portraits. I so loved this! I am happy with the three portraits done this week. The young lady liked it so much she asked if I would sell her the portrait I did of her. It pleased me that she liked it and wanted it. It was so much fun to do them all from life!
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Karen and Marta

The onset of menopause came hand in hand with the start of my running program. I quickly began to see a drop in a few pounds but since the beginning of HRT I’ve gained a few pounds. But the running has been good for me and I’m enjoying my progress, although slow.

This past weekend I ran my first 5k in many years. My friend Dr. Karen De La Cruz, along with two other pediatric nurses, joined me for this event in Century City for the benefit of Children’s Cancer Research. The day was sizzling hot with temperature in the 90’s and quite humid. I had a difficult time because of it and my pace suffered. But after the race Karen and I headed to the Farmer’s Market in the Fairfax district for a nice celebration lunch. Now, to continue training for the next one!!!
Kids 4 Kids 5k Run
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Marta and Amy
Last weekend I also took a quick trip to San Diego to spend some time with my Amy. She had invited me to join her for the SELF Magazine Workout in the Park event in Mission Bay. We had so much fun! They handed out lots of free stuff….like towels, water bottles, make-up, lotions, healthy snacks, etc. Then we worked out in the park doing an abs session ‘Absolution’ and ‘Latin Grooves.’ I mostly watched her!
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Brittanee and her nurses
I drove home from San Diego to get ready for my Brittanee’s Celebration of Life party. Brittanee has been battling cancer since she was 9 years old; she is 16 now. A few months ago she came up with her ‘bucket list’ and among the things listed was this party. She thought it sad that people die and at the funeral everyone talks about how wonderful they were. She thought you should hear those things while you are still alive. This was ‘her farewell’ to all of us. It was held at the local country club and formal dress code was requested.   She was much too ill to enjoy her party but nonetheless; she WAS the belle of the ball!

Bless my friend Clara who lent me one her beautiful gowns. (Dianne offered hers too but she's much taller than I so hers didn't fit) I was among only a handful that were invited to this event. I was so honored and touched to be invited.  I get back so much love in caring for these children.  God knew what he was doing when he led me into this profession. Thank you God.

Bless you if you have taken the time to read all these post. I have not stopped looking at all the blogs that I admire so much. I regret that I haven’t made the time to send you comments, as all of you have been so generous with me. I’m hoping once this art class is done and things (like hormones) in my life settle a bit; I can once again stop by to say hello. In the meantime I will stop by often to see new works posted there.

Landscapes and Portraiture

Wednesday, April 23, 2008 at 4:30 PM
conte: black and white on toned paper
I have had a difficult time this past week, so art has taken a back seat; at least as much as I have allowed it to.  But my art brings me comfort so my creative spirit survives.  We had the large model back today and I finally have a conte on toned paper that I am pleased with.  Admist angste about this type of drawing, the model and other things going on; I approached it as a landscape, with all her hills, valleys and mountains...and I think it worked.  I still don't care for working in this way, but I am beginning to understand it.
unfinished self portrait
On Monday she gave us an excellent portrait demo.  Then we were to try it ourselves.  I had a good start here although she said I was rushing in too quickly with features and needed to add more 'structure' before moving onto features.  I don't think I'll finish it, but think I have a better understanding of how to approach portraits.

Reading the paper on the beach

Wednesday, April 16, 2008 at 2:29 PM
Reading on the beach: wc

Sent from me and my cool iPhone

Rudy reading on the beach at San Clemente

Last week we spent a few wonderful days in our little "casita" (trailer) on the beach.  I took this photos after I had done the watercolor as I really do love working from life.  Rudy complained about making his nose too large and his hat not sitting right on his head.  So I tried to fix up those items to please him!  I like this so much because this IS how Rudy relaxes when we get away from it all....just being a beach bum!

Margarita's at the beach: post golf

Tuesday, April 15, 2008 at 3:05 PM

Sent from me and my cool iPhone

You got to look cute

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You got to look cute, originally uploaded by mmvgonzales.

Sent from me and my cool iPhone

Self portrait in nupastel

Saturday, April 12, 2008 at 8:18 PM

Self portrait in nupastel, originally uploaded by mmvgonzales.

a little less mean, old or tired. Lots of things wrong with this: muddy color (I haven't played with pastels in over 10 years...forgot how to apply them!), my eyes are bit too 'bug eyed' (but I really do have large eyes), proportions are a bit offf (I sat on a balance ball while drawing this...too much movement!) and a bunch of other stuff. But what I do like is that it's more like the 'real me.'

All sizes

Friday, April 11, 2008 at 6:49 PM

Another week has come and gone.  This week we had a very large model.   Contrary to what you'd think would be the perfect opportunity to draw voluptuous forms, I found it hard to do.  There was just so much mass that it was difficult to try and locate key structures such as hip bones.   We actually had two models last Monday.  The second was a young black girl with lovely forms.  Our instructor also gave us a portrait drawing demo which was very good.  We worked on portraits several times this week.  We really had a challenging week in figure drawing class!   You can click on the above photo to see the rest of the weeks drawings.

Mi Casa EDM #165

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at 6:43 PM

Mi Casa, originally uploaded by mmvgonzales.

I have had so much fun looking at all the EDMr's homes with this challenge that I just had to drop the black conte and figure studies for a bit to do this watercolor and pencil of my "casita".

I live in Riverside, California in a community that is only about 20 years old: Orangecrest.  Our home is 18 years old.  My studio is in the bedroom above the garage.  From there I have a great view of what's going on in the neighborhood.  So if you are ever in my neck of the woods, come on by for a visit or bring a suitcase and stay awhile! 

Yesterday my head, today my foot!

Thursday, April 3, 2008 at 6:32 PM

my foot, originally uploaded by mmvgonzales.

Isn't it pretty?  This footsie along with it's partner have logged 74 miles in the past few weeks.  And they still look pretty!!!

self portrait_white conte on toned paper

Wednesday, April 2, 2008 at 10:25 PM

I gave it another go tonight...using me as the model. Gosh, I look so old, mean and tired!

Two weeks worth of figure drawing!

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black conte on newsprint, 18x24 inches.   Click on image to see entire set.

For two weeks now we have been working on massing in the form.  Aside from all we have learned so far, she continues to push us to really see the body, it's form and the tonal values. We are working with white conte on toned paper to help us see the forms or doing erasure drawings.  I really struggle with these!   We are being pushed a little harder to get the spirit line right at the beginning and  to get our proportions right.  She stops us often to look and see if we have it right....."don't go drawing nipples if you haven't gotten the body all drawn in"  or  "folks, you are drawing the whole body, I don't want to see headless bodies or those missing hands and feet!"  Okay, I love this class!

I got my portfolio back today.  I earned brownie points for having the neatest most professional looking one.  (We had to make them.  I guess bookbinding skills came in handy).  We got 10 grades today: 2 for the master studies and 8 for the required drawings.   She scores: 4/A, 3/B, 2/C, 1/D, 0/F.  Mine averaged to 3.4 (B).  I had one she gave me a C on but I got 4's on both my master studies.

I have a long work weekend coming up so won't have much drawing time.  And I must make time to come visit all of you and see what you are all doing.  Thank you for being so supportive and the encouragement is a big boost for my ego as well!  
"oh, if only this kind of drawing made sense to me"

Rudy in the kitchen

Tuesday, April 1, 2008 at 6:40 PM

Rudy in the kitchen, originally uploaded by mmvgonzales.

I am struggling with white conte on toned charcoal paper. We are doing this in figure class and so far mine are awful. I really don't like the look of this type of art nor the concept. But it's class and I have to do it. I tried this at home this evening but it still looks and feels awkward.

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