Sunday, May 19, 2019

New Chickies!!!

Dominique and her five sweet little fluffies!
Oops... I've done it again...
We set a limit of 7 chickens.  
We decided that was a good number.  4 could sleep in the Sister House, 3 could sleep in the Cousin House, and no one would be the least bit crowded.
Here are our 6 hens.
Dolly, Dominique, Sylvia, Red Red, Fancy, Other Red


Sweet Monique who was just a little chickie last spring got broody a few weeks ago.  She sat so patiently in the dark nesting box day after day after day.  I'd try scooting her out, but she wasn't having it.  She wanted to be a mama and was determined to keep the eggs warm.  (One of those eggs is the fake one that reminds hens where to lay, and the others are those the other hens would lay each day.  We don't have a rooster, so none of them would ever become chickens.)  
Finally I got 4 eggs from a friend who does have a rooster.  Dominique was happy to sit on those 4 for 21 more days.  And, she did.  What a patient girl. But, alas, all of them were duds.  Zero babies.
I went to my friend Google and discovered that there might be a way.
First I called our farmers' coop and asked if they had chicks. They said they'd have them on next Friday from 10:00-12:00. O... K... That's pretty specific and too late.
Next I called a farm supply store.  They had plenty, so I happily headed there to buy 2 (probably 3) for this experiment.
Fun fact*** Apparently there's a law that says that chicks can only be purchased in groups of 6 or more. What?  Wait... I only need a couple.  Sorry, we'll get fined if we sell less.  
Well, what do you suppose I did? I couldn't break the law, could I?  
Yeah, I bought 6.  
I would just explain that there was a law, so Ron would be completely fine with us going.... juuuust a little over our limit of 7.  😉
I made a home for these tiny little fluffs in a box for the afternoon.  At about 10:00 pm, after it was completely dark, we went out to the coop and slipped them one at a time under Dominique.  She couldn't see us, but she just purred in her mama chicken way and tucked each one farther under her.
It worked!
The next morning they were a happy, happy little family!
Sadly, one didn't make it, but there are 5 happy babies just busily learning all the important chicken lessons from their mama.
2 Buff Orpingtons, 2 California Whites, 1 Bantum
This little Bantum is about the size of a cotton ball!
I think we'll call her Thumbelina.
This funny one with the black spot prefers to ride on mama.
What shall I name her?
When Red Red came to inspect the new chicks,
Dominique puffed up and had a fit!
So much to learn!

In case you think this can't be a real law... Yes... It is.
2012 Arkansas CodeTitle 5 - Criminal OffensesSubtitle 6 - Offenses Against Public Health, Safety, Or WelfareChapter 62 - AnimalsSubchapter 1 - -- General Provisions§ 5-62-121 - Transfer of certain chicks, ducklings, or rabbits.Universal Citation: AR Code § 5-62-121 (2012)
(a) It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell or offer for sale, barter, or give away living baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings under two (2) months of age in any quantity less than six (6).(b) It is unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to sell, offer for sale, barter, give away, or display living baby chicks, rabbits, or ducklings that have been dyed, colored, or otherwise treated so as to impart to them an artificial color.(d) Any person, firm, or corporation violating any provision of this section upon conviction is deemed guilty of a Class C misdemeanor.
Class C misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors in Arkansas, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500. (Ark. ... Public intoxication is a Class C misdemeanor.
Here's an explanation as to why this law exists.
A Poultry Breeder's PerspectiveJim Hall, Drew County 4H Poultry Club Leader Poultry are a flock bird.  Within a flock there is comfort companionship and contentment for each member of the flock.  With baby chicks, ducklings, poults, etc. they have a natural instinct to flock together.  Many times a single chick will die of loneliness.  With Easter a few days away, many will want to purchase a baby chick for the children.  What will you do when the chick is grown?  Many breeds of poultry live very long lives.  A chicken can live to more tan 13 years... With any pet, one must contemplate the full cost and long term obligations of the pet.  With poultry one must consider housing and maintenance for the long term...

Friday, May 17, 2019

Harper, a Black & White Kitty

My blog friend, Sandra, asked me to paint Harper (named for the author of To Kill a Mockingbird) as a birthday present for her daughter.  Actually I'd painted Harper before. Look very closely at the painting "Harmony"... at the base of the third tree... Surprise!  There she is!! 
Not only do I like to tell the story behind my paintings, I want to know their stories while I'm painting them!
Sandra told me this:
"Harper and Dayna bonded immediately in a playroom in the Windsor Humane Society. Dayna needed a feline friend: she’d recently lost her previous rescue to feline leukaemia, and she was in college far away from her family. This fluffy, gentle, black and white ‘skunk’ brought a calm presence to Dayna’s home. Harper is her heart, her daemon."
Knowing this kitty's story makes me love her even more.  
Well, that and the fact that I think she may be a long lost relative of my Pounce!

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Wrapped Canvas

Monday, May 6, 2019


Cricket is such a sweetie!
She was the baby of the family...

 ... until... she wasn't...

Original Oil Painting on 10"x 10" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Sunbonnet Sue & Overall Sam

I know I should have cropped the picture a little closer, but how about a little credit for my quilt holder / painting holder / whatever project holder.  You never see him in the pictures of my paintings, but he's usually behind them... literally. 😉

Surprise!! I made a quilt.  No... I am not a quilter, but I did make a quilt. I saw the description of a six-week class that promised completing a project. Since I'm still trying to figure out exactly who I am as a retired person, thought I'd give that a try. 

Both of my grandmothers made quilts, and I loved the stories behind them... who wore the dress that this scrap came from... what shirt  got ripped so it got cut up and used for this square... who helped stitch this one together...
I see quilts on other blogs that are simply works of art, the way they put colors,values, and geometric shapes together to create their stories. Fascinating.
My imagination was flipping through intricate quilt patterns of small pieces of fabric sewn in perfect alignment.  My common sense was reminding me that I was pretty close to a beginner.                          I chose to do an applique pattern of Sunbonnet Sue and Overall Sam because it reminded me of a quilt my mother had that she called her Dutch doll quilt.
There were a lot of fond memories that came to the surface as I chose fabric scraps to use.  The navy background was from the my son's first set of big-boy sheets. The top Sue's dress came from scraps of Raggedy Ann dresses I made for my daughter and me 25 years ago.  The bottom Sue's dress came from the Raggedy that I made 30 years ago and eventually used for a painting 6 years ago.  The white backgrounds are from a sheet that came from my mother's linen closet and had "Powell" written in black magic marker across the edge; probably one of my brothers took it to camp or college 40 years ago. The middle Sam is wearing a hat and shoes from one of Ron's work shirts that got a rip in it.   The pockets of a pair of Ron's former dress pants became the shirt of that Sam.  The top Sam is wearing overalls that were once a pair of his shorts. And on and on... All of the other pieces came from the fabric scraps I inherited when I cleaned our my mother's stash.  She'd never throw a perfectly good piece of fabric away.  You just never knew when it might be the exact thing you'd need. 

Each lady in my class had a story... "Already gave mine to my grandson..." "From the blocks my grandmother made..."  "For my granddaughter..."  Precious, precious, precious!  What a pleasure to meet, get to know, and work alongside these ladies.
I said above that I had made a quilt but that I was not a quilter.  Many of these ladies were quilters. They knew the quilting lingo... had the tools... knew the tricks... and... Oh, my goodness!  They could sew straight lines that perfectly intersected other straight lines.  They were quilters.

That could be the end of this quilt's story, but oh, no. That was the history part.  Now about the process... sigh... It has a happy ending... but like every good story, there's a twist.
The process started like it should. I chose my pattern and learned about how to use a product called Wonder-Under to keep the pieces from fraying. I gathered my fabrics, selected those that I thought would go together, cut, ironed on the Wonder-Under, and tried to attach the dolls to the background.  Hmmm... I thought it was supposed to stick. It didn't.  I gave up and tried to use some Stitch Witchery. Ugh. That didn't work too well on the paper backing.  Well, old fashioned pins were okay, but it was hard with the paper.  Anyway... it worked. Next came putting the blocks together then adding the batting and backing. I used a tight zigzag around every little papery-feeling piece (Let me just give huge respect to quilters who manage to sew on those huge projects!  OMG! I'm glad mine wasn't any bigger!) 
When I headed back to the next class I was ready to do some stitching in the ditch on all the seams (Do not enlarge my photo and look closely.  I more or less did stitch in the ditch, beside the ditch, close to the ditch, make the corners look like they meet stitching.)  As I was happily sewing at the machines with my quilter friends... the mood changed...
ME: I know y'all like it, but I am not a fan of the Wonder Under.
FRIEND 1: Why?
ME: I hate how it makes it feel all papery and crunchy."
FRIEND 2: What do you mean?
FRIEND 1: Didn't you take the backing off?
FRIEND 2: You know, to make it stick?
ME: What? Mine didn't stick?
FRIEND 1: You have to peel off the back.
FRIEND 2: I wondered what that crinkly sound was.
ME: What are you talking about? I had to use pins to keep it on.
FRIEND 1: Let me show you on a little piece how it works.
FRIEND 2: Can we help you rip the whole thing out?
ME: ... wanting to put the quilt over my head and cry right then and there but am determined to learn how to do the binding and leave as fast as I can before I break down and sob in front of everyone.
Filled with disappointment, I listened to an audio book and did the last part of the binding by hand. 
My quilt was finished.  It was cute. But I wasn't really proud of it because I felt so stupid for doing it wrong.
I spent some time holding my new little grandson.  He had this little toy that crinkled and jingled and rattled depending on where you held onto it. Hmmmmm...
I ordered some "dog toy replacements" that came Amazon Prime delivered the next day. I had some blue scraps in the stash that hadn't been used yet.  I had plenty of the backing left.  And, now I knew (sort of) what I was doing.  One more Sunbonnet Sue and one more Overall Sam.  She has squeakers sewn inside her bonnet and dress.  He has rattlers sewn inside his hat and overalls.  

The blanket crinkles, one pillow squeaks, the other pillow rattles.
One might even think I planned it that way!
I'm proud of it.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Watching the Dogwood Snow

See that beautiful dogwood? When we were building our house, the builder asked if we wanted him to take down the scraggly little tree beside the back porch.  He said it had gotten scuffed up during the building and might not make survive anyway.  When that first spring came and it burst in to big white blossoms, we were so surprised and so glad we'd kept it.  It is pretty scrappy.  Every year wonder if it will last through one more winter. (That's been since 2001!)
This is another in the front near the mailbox.
And we pass these when we go for a walk toward our neighbor's house.
Today was windy, and the petals fell like giant snowflakes.

The 10th painting I did after three months of lessons was of some blossoms from this very tree. (April 2007)
I painted some of her blossoms again for my 300th painting.
(May 2015)
It was a good day to spend on the back porch watching the dogwood snow.... and wonder if our dogwood friend will be here to put on her show next spring.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Once Upon a Farm...

Once upon a farm there was a feeling of contentment.  

  • The blue sky was clear.
  • The leaves were beginning to appear on the trees. 
  • The yellow button dandelions were turning into white puffs and blowing away in the wind. 
  • The pigs had plenty of mud for rolling around in their pen.  
  • The grass was green and filled with enough bugs and seeds to keep the chickens busy.  
  • The red hen was teaching her fluffy little chicks everything they needed to know. 
  • And, the rooster with his coat of many colors was keeping an eye on them all.
It was a good, good day... once upon a farm.

One of the things I love about painting a commissioned piece is that I'm nearly always stretched to the limit of my skills. I don't know if I'd push myself of choose to paint challenging pieces if I always just got to choose what to work on next.
This one started out with a simple question, "Can you paint this rooster in larger size?"  Sure!  He was already on a 16"x 16" canvas, so the new version would be huge.  He is proudly standing front and center of this new painting... but instead of 2 feet tall, he's 2 two inches tall!  
How did that happen? 
It happened through a series of e-mails and questions... "Could you put a barn in the painting? We love this one, but could you make it red? Could you add a few hens with the rooster, and maybe some chicks? Could you  put some dandelions in the grass?  One more thing... could there be some pigs?"
Oh, this process makes me smile!
Yes... Sure... No problem... I can do that... Okay... Absolutely... Wait, pigs?
Ha ha ha ha
And so.... that is how the 2 foot rooster became a 2 inch rooster!

Thank you Mandi for giving me the setting and all the characters to put this story on canvas.

Original Oil Painting on 18"x 24" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, April 20, 2019


My friend Sandra asked me if I'd be willing to do a painting that would commemorate or celebrate her daughter's wedding.  Of course, I said that I'd love to.  I told her to send me a few images that we might choose from. 
Ok... the truth... 
I imagined she'd want a picture of some of the wedding flowers... or a slice of the cake... or their rings... or... or... I don't know... some little sweet wedding token thing... but... noooooo.... 
The photos came and they were the whole bride and groom!!!
Ohhhhhh... dear... deep breath... I can do this... 
     How in the world can I pull this off?!... 
It's just colors and shapes... just values and textures... 
     It's humans with arms and hands and faces!... 
I'm not afraid of a challenge... 
     How did I get into this?!... 
It is such a beautiful image... 
     A solid white wedding dress, for Pete's sake!... 
I can't wait to begin... 

Do you know how many times I've eagerly agreed to do something then realized with a sick feeling that I couldn't imagine how I could actually accomplish it? Well,I'll tell you... A lot! 
But... I guess that's how we get better, and it is oh, so satisfying when it does come together in the end!

Sandra sent me a half a dozen photos to choose from.  I sent back my feedback on each one so that she could make the final choice. I explained the positives and negatives about turning each one into a painting.  I tried to be neutral, but I'm pretty sure I didn't fool her.  I think she knew which one I was rooting for. 
These were my comments about this image:
  • +They just look so peaceful.  I love the stories that each of these photos tells, but somehow this one feels like it's about the "marriage" not just the "wedding."  I love it.
  • +They aren't centered.  I love that.
  • + Her bouquet makes and appearance, but it's not trying to steal the show.
  • +They seem so relaxed. A kiss on the forehead, eyes closed, arms draped (not posed).
  • + The background is a medium value so her dress and his suit both would show up.
  • + The background is natural. Nature is always good. Nothing in the background would demand the attention of the eye.
  • - Yes, the veil is gorgeous.  Is it bad that I'd want to paint it going down instead of straight out.  I just think the tone of the whole piece is so calm. **The wind had blown it straight out behind her.
  • - I see that the train of the dress is cut off in the photo, but I could fix that.
Because Sandra is also an artist, (Although she uses fabrics instead of paint - you must visit her blog and see her quilts.) I asked her if she wanted to follow along with my progress.  It's really the first time I've ever sent pictures of every little step of the process. I made her promise to trust me even while the painting was deep in the ugly stages.  She did.  It was fun.

I asked Sandra if she'd give her thoughts on the finished painting. This was the response written to the beautiful bride, her daughter.
This painting captures the way I see your relationship: a contentment, an equality, an ease of being in each others' arms that's born of partnership, love. and care for each other....and for a fluffy feline! May loads of love, happiness and contentment be in your lives for always. 
I love the thoughts.
I love the story told by this image.
I'm so glad she trusted me to put it on canvas.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, April 13, 2019

R.J.'s Dinosaur Mural

"Mom, we were wondering if you'd do a painting for us... Something to go over his bed... Maybe something with dinosaurs...?  It's a big blank wall."

I am on it!
It's a DREAMI (DRop Everything And Make It!) project!
One day everything is as normal as ever then... Surprise! ...all sorts of amazing happens!
Click HERE if you want to read the precious story of the arrival of our grandson.

Original Acrylic Paintings on 24"x 8", 24"x 12", 24"x 24", 24"x 12", 24"x 8"

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Watering Yellow Roses

There's a story on this canvas!  I just know there's a story... 
I wonder what it is...

  • What's her name?
  • Where does the path lead?
  • Why are the roses in pots?
  • Who helps her with the flowers?
  • Is that a special dress?
There are lots of ideas bouncing around in my head. Maybe there's more than one story on this canvas.

Sometimes the colors, shapes, and ideas flow and the painting appears without much effort. Other times... not so much.
This painting had a mind of its own... 
I did the trees and sky one way then changed the color and the shape.
I did the path one way then changed the direction and the width.
I did the grass smooth and formal then changed to add wildflowers and texture.
I did the watering can yellow then changed it to blue.
I did the shoes yellow then changed them to purple.
I did the face one way then another then another then another... then another...
... sigh...
I should have listened to the painting better from the beginning.  
The painting knew its story all along. 

This is the fourth painting for the bedrooms of Welcome Home Retreat. 
It's for the Yellow Rose of Texas Room. 
Click below to see each of the other three.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 20" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Springtime in My Kitchen

My kitchen is filled with springtime!  
There are some dreamy things to love about springtime.  
Flowers on the island just say happy, Happy, HAPPY! 
And, the smell.... mmmmm.... 
Those hyacinths! 
Trays of little seedlings cover the table.
And, there are more in flower pots on the floor!
Yeah... I totally planted more than I could ever need.
But, I love watching them grow!
The counter top has a place for the day's eggs.
Beautiful weather makes my six little hens happy!
What fun it is to share their eggs!
I know planting a seed tray should be an outside job, but it was freezing on Sunday.  We built maybe the last fire of the year in the fireplace, and I was ready to play with some dirt.   
You can imagine my little dog's disappointment.  She stands right below me when I cook, chop, slice, pour, stir.  This had all the look of cooking with not a single good treat falling to the floor.