The Bridge I Had To Cross One More Time.

Before we get to work today, I have to ask you all something.

On Thursday three Korean-Americans were released from captivity in North Korea and der Drumpf gave them a hero’s welcome at Andrews Air Force Base:

Greeting them on the tarmac der Drumpf said: ‘These are great people. Frankly … this is a special night for these three really great people.”

But wait. Doesn’t der Drumpf dislike people who get themselves captured?

Remember? When he was talking about John McCain’s captivity as a Prisoner of War in Hanoi, North Vietnam from 1967 – 1973?

I’m sure Sarah Huckabee Sanders can lie about explain it.

In the meantime, I have my own problems.

Remember how hard it was for me to get the watercolor paints to lie down the right way for a picture of Claude Monet’s famous Japanese bridge? After too many awful attempts to get those watercolors to behave, I finally settled for this:

Even though I was never 100% satisfied with the shape of these dried-up pools of water-soluble pigment, this is the image that I submitted to my agent when I gave her the completed manuscript of my Damn Monet Book because I just gave up. I truly, deeply, and madly did to want to ever, never paint that bridge again. Those railings are a horror to draw and to paint and I don’t like doing structures and there is a lot of structure in this, uh, structure.

Then this happened: Three and a half weeks ago I got on the scale at my gym and saw a number that I did not like. Immediate and drastic action was called for. OK, it was only 5 pounds (OK, 7 if I wanted the luxury of “wiggle room”; 10 if I want to be skinny but mean). I’ve been on an all-vegetable diet for 24 days and for the past week I’ve been off the booze to save calories so I thought what the hell: I’m having a pretty miserable life anyway, I might as well re-paint Monet’s damn Japanese bridge.

I intensely disliked having to draw the bridge and the vines, but I have to say that painting them was incredibly soothing. I like the safety of having to only stay within the lines.

Now for the dastardly blobby stuff that can so easily go all wrong:

Having survived this picture so far, I think it’s OK to draw in some background foliage (to be dealt with later):

I’ve mentioned before that I like it when pictures have a “bull’s-eye”. This picture’s bull’s eye is the glimpse of greenery that appears at the far end of the bridge:


Watercolor is different than oil paint (duh) in that you can’t paint light colors over dark ones, which means that sometimes you have to paint the foreground first, and then color-in the background:

I want to avoid the mistake I made in the all the previous pictures, in which all the backgrounds were too over-worked. I want to keep this picture light and easy:

The horizontal lines are wonky, but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed later:

Let’s so if I can get away with going just a light wash for the floor boards of the bridge:

I’m using my trusty acrylic paint to get the saturated green-ness for the railings of Monet’s damn Japanese bridge:

In this picture the light is coming from the left-hand side, so it needs some brightness:

I am not good at doing illustrations that don’t go all the way to the edge. If there’s a technical term for that, I don’t know it. In photography it’s called a full bleed, but bleed already has a meaning in watercolor that isn’t about going all the way to the edge, so I doubt that it’s that.

Anyhoo, I wanted to do a soft-edged illustration here, which calls for a lot of self-control that I am not usually able to muster. But so far, it’s going OK here:

This (below) is what the picture looked like before I made corrections:

Well, actually, in addition to “corrections”, I had to rescue this picture by cutting out (with scissors) the foot path of the bridge and gluing in a new one because, nope, I could not get away with just doing a light wash there:

As of today (shortly before noon on Thursday, May 10) I have hit my 5-pound weight loss goal. At my age (62) it takes a lot to lose 5 pounds. I added 30 minutes of treadmill to my daily (M-F) workout and I ate a lot of cabbage stew and I substituted flavored rice cakes for Entenmann’s cookies and, as a last resort, I cut back on the wine. I also cheated. I made nachos at home on two occasions, and we got a very small pizza one night because I get extremely depressed when I have to live too long without pizza, and twice I went to a diner and had a grilled cheese sandwich. But still, the jeans feel a lot better and I’m hanging in there for 2 more pounds.

I was at my gym last week and I noticed that one of the trainers was giving a tour of the facilities to a new couple. I noticed them because the new couple were dressed as if they were ready to jump into the octagon, which was a little strange because they were not even members yet, and they were both in their late 60s (I’m guessing). The woman was wearing tights and a tank top and those fingerless leather gloves that weight lifters wear. She had a tan and fluffy blonde hair. I was thinking unkind thoughts about how some people over a certain age should know better, that when they think they look good, they should know that they actually only look good for their age when I heard the woman explain to the trainer: “I am very active. That’s why I’m so lithe.”

I adore this lady. I’m going to put that in the vault and keep it nice and shiny so it will always be a thing of beauty when I take it out to play with. I am sure that I’ve never heard a person use the word lithe in conversation before, so it takes someone really special to use such an arcane word to describe herself.

Taffy, being lithe on Monday.

Taffy, doing lithe on Tuesday.

Taffy, at his lithest on Wednesday.

We couldn’t do a Thursday taffy portrait because it got double-fleece and electric blankie cold again and a bit rainy.

Because of the weather I saw Avengers: Infinity War. I would have liked more Doctor Strange, and there is an awful lot of violence in it, but I thought the picture was dandy. Just goes to show you that movies are the premier art form.

Speaking of art, did you miss the Rockefeller estate sale at Christie’s New York?

That’s a shot of the Monet water lily picture that sold for $84.7 million on May 8, a new record for the artist.

Speaking of Monet, my agent got back to me about the  manuscript of my Damn Monet Book and she is very enthusiastic. We will submit to publishers in the next month or so, after I make more dummy books, which are a pain in the ass to compile.

Have a great weekend, everyone. May all your bridges be the kind of bridges that make life better, or span untroubled waters, or whatever it is that bridges could do that would make your life a wonder and make me sound wise by wishing that you all have those kinds of bridges to cross, or something. When you read this I will likely be drinking wine (finally) and feeling very at ease in the universe. I hope you do, too.



12 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Cats are indeed lithe. I can’t believe how much Monet’s paintings sell for now, it’s sad to think of the abject poverty some of these great artists endured and now their work is selling for quite an obscene amount of money. Thanks for the great blog post.

  2. So thrilling about the Monet book! Congratulations. Well deserved.
    How lithe you must be looking.
    I am very fat.
    You need to come into the city soon. I will buy you a drink
    to celebrate.

  3. Casey

    The evolution of all those bridge paintings is remarkable but the way you rescued your final picture is astonishing. It was a nice picture before but then you added those shadows and POW. It boggles me that you can achieve this optical illusion of light with just a few blobs of gray paint, but those blobs of gray paint make all the difference!!!

    I think Dumpster is campaigning for a Nobel Peace Prize but there’s no way the committee would be stupid enough to give it to him, right? because if he gets a Nobel I will personally go to Norway to shame them. Only those photos of Taffy can calm my ire. That cat deserves a medal for spreading his happiness in such a dreary world as ours.

    And your book, of course. We need another Vivian Swift book to help us through these tough times. Congratulations on another beauty.

  4. Three cheers on the five! I know how hard that is. And thank you for featuring the lithe Ms. Taffy (or Mr. Taffy, I guess.) Looks like a little break dancer!

    Well three cheers on everything here — the agent’s news is terrific! (And please — one day do a post on what it takes to make a dummy book, since I’m not even sure what that would be or how you would do it and it sounds probably awful to you but fascinating to me.) Love the revised bridge. When I look at them together I see exactly what you mean, though I confess, I thought the other was pretty nifty too. Maybe someday, who knows — a Vivian Swift will be sold at Christies for an outrageous amount of money!

    Rain, cold, wet and sloppy. Thanks for bringing some life and color to this most gloomy day.

  5. Susan

    Congratulations on the book. Great news. Sounds like you lost some winter weight (like we all seem to gain). Hard work but so worth it. You are now summer svelte. The damn bridge looks good. Each iteration looks different and shows a perspective unlike before. I love seeing the evolution. The colors are breathtaking.

  6. Patricia

    You know perfectly well Trump only cares about the three Korean Americans because it helps to distract from his depressing legal problems at home (… look over here! Nobel Peace Prize nomination coming right up!). Your cat is more ethical. And certainly more lithe.

  7. Kirra

    Great to hear your agent is on board for the Damn Monet Book! I really like your final painting of the bridge, you’re right it looks best after the rescue.

    Taffy is very lithe, sorry he was out of action on Thursday! Hope it’s a sunshine week ahead.

  8. Becky

    Congratulations on the book, and I loved the revised bridge. It is so amazing to follow the steps you take in your planning for the paintings. Thank you for sharing this process.
    Lithe perfectly describes the absolute delight and bliss Taffy shows rolling in the dirt. My dog is pretty lithe as she rolls over on her back and stretches out to take over the whole bed.
    The whole auction at Christie’s was a wow on how much the items went for. I wondered what Monet would have thought of how much his painting went for.
    As for drumpf…..they have sunk to a new swampy level with the Sadler quote regarding McCain. But this is what you can expect when the idiot at the top acts and speaks in the same manner. And “miss lie lie your pants are on fire” should be ashamed to speak in front of the cameras. She has yet to tell the truth about anything…..I wonder if she is so lenient with her daughters.
    Can’t wait to add your new book to my collection. Right now I am rereading with great pleasure the Gardens of Awe and Folly.

  9. Marg-o

    It’s nice to visit you on a rainy Sunday and get to watch you paint something filled with light and color. There is no one like you on the interwebs, Vivian, with your art and your honesty and your generosity. Thank you.

  10. Lithe is good.
    Now stupid is not good. Please make him go away.
    Your painting is delightful and wonderful all wrapped into one.
    Thanks for sharing your humor.

  11. Judy Jennings

    Vivian, you just said the exact thing I told Beth about Drumpf’s words about McCain.
    You know there has to be some secret “reason” none of us will ever know for the release of the 3 prisoners.
    For that matter, what’s the secret “reason” North Koreas is suddenly being nice?
    What has been promised? That guy doesn’t know “nice.” Stay tuned……
    And get that book finished, because I NEED it. 💕

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