Guest Post: Painting Barbie by Beth Bordelon

Dear Reader:

Our “From the Pink Shed” hostess Michele asked me why I paint Barbies. The easy answer is, “ I just thought it would be fun.” But when pushed to consider the question a bit more deeply a few things come to mind.

For inspiration, I often take or find photos of subjects I might like to paint later. One of my largest photo files is the Barbie folder. Not just any Barbie, but the vintage original Barbie dolls that Mattel introduced back in 1959. For some reason, later Barbies seem frivolous and maybe a bit tacky to me,  yet the original Barbies seem classic.

When my daughter was growing up in the late 1990s, I intentionally never bought her a Barbie. I felt that those unrealistically shaped, perfect glamour girls would be unattainable or improper role models for her. When friends or family members gave her a Barbie as a gift, I would go out and buy the doll a doctor’s outfit, a basketball uniform or an art studio in order to give her something productive to do, something that made her more than just a pretty face.

I think part of my interest in painting Barbie dolls (and other retro toys) is due to my 14-year career as an advertising art director. I created many a layout for clients’ products or services—hamburgers, soap, cameras, clothing. Paintings can turn objects into heroes. Think of Andy Warhol and the Campbell’s soup can. Painting a Barbie feels a little like creating an ad for her without the need for a headline!

Ironically, growing up, I never owned a Barbie.  My parents gave me a Tammy doll with her very own carrying case instead. (I still have both!) I liked her and certainly had plenty of opportunities to play with my friends’ Barbies, not to mention Midges, Kens and Skippers. So am I now trying to compensate for my “deprived” childhood? My amateur psychoanalyst self says I don’t think so.

If I was to be totally honest —and I’m embarrassed to admit this—there’s a part of me that relates to this perfect long, tall gal. We both came into the world in 1959 — Mattel started selling Barbie five days after I was born. She’s long and lean and so am I, at 5’10” with a 33” inseam. She’s perfect, and I’m, well, a perfectionist. I’ve fought hard to let that label go, but hey, it’s a process! Who knows how many more Barbies I’ll paint. Perhaps she’s out of my system. We shall see…

Beth

My friend Beth’s work can be found at Bordelon Artworks. In addition to being a very talented artist, she is a very dear friend to me. You can reader more about Beth and our friendship here.

Guest Post: Inner Space by Laurie Seidler

Dear Reader:

I’m packing for Mars.

Yeah. I’m an astronaut. Self-trained. Rigorously self-trained. I’ve been running stairs. Well, not so much running stairs as using them on an as-needed basis. You know, when I’m downstairs and I have to get upstairs. And I squeeze a tennis ball. A lot. Preparing for space travel is an arduous and exacting science. You have to mix anaerobic and aerobic activity.

What drives me? What drives any explorer? Curiosity. A thirst for adventure. The need to test myself. Mars is there and I’m here. Enough said.

Also, I have an empty nest now, and a bit of free time. A fair amount of free time, truth be told, and I don’t do well with free time. I need structure and goals. So I’m planning and executing a 270-day trip to Mars, during which I’ll be following the kind of regimented program of exercise and intellectual stimulation that keeps astronauts sane as they hurtle through the vacuum of space.

You know how people say, “I’ve always wanted to do X. I’ve always wanted to [learn to surf, play the cello, read Proust and not just say that I’ve read Proust]”? Well, I may actually read Proust. And learn to surf. I’m not sure yet. The trip is still in the planning stages. But it’s a go, as we like to say in the space business. It’s on. I’m in the process of establishing the mission parameters that I’ll be following for the 270 days that I’m “away,” and I’m chronicling the journey in a mission log.

We’re happiest when we’re absorbed, when we’re rising to a challenge. Well, everything I know about astrophysics I learned from Star Trek and I get dizzy shaking my head, but I’m going to Mars, if only metaphorically. That’s my challenge. We’re all travelers, I’m just steering my ship in a new direction.

Call it a trip to inner space.

Laurie Seidler

My friend Laurie has a BA in history from Yale and an MFA in writing from the California College of the Arts. Formerly a reporter and editor for Dow Jones & Co., she teaches in the San Francisco Bay Area. Her book, 22 Shelters:   Lessons From Letters , is an inspiring read.

In addition to those amazing credentials, Laurie was the first mom to be-friend me when my daughter switched schools in the second grade. So, yes, she has a permanent place in my heart. Her only “child” is a sophomore in college.