Monday, June 4, 2018

Little Gray Donkey (a.k.a. Don Quixote)

ME: What should I call this new donkey?
RON: How about Don Quixote?
ME: (caught off guard with that response and dying laughing) 
RON: How would you spell that? Donkey Hoatey!!! 
ME: (still laughing)
ME: I've never read that, have you?  Google it. Make sure it's not some awful character.
ME: (a day later... still laughing)

I know... I know... he looks just like that other one I did a couple of months ago (A Little Gray Donkey - a.k.a. Clip Clop)My 91 year old dad loved Clip Clop and took him to hang in his apartment where he refers to him as Ole' LeRoy!
I've got a different place to hang this guy while he waits for his forever home.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
To purchase this painting, click "Don Quixote."

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Indonesian Sunset

Recently I had a pretty amazing opportunity.  (I hesitate to call it a once-in-a-lifetime experience because that implies I won't ever get to do it again.)

On the first day in Indonesia, I got to teach an art lesson to a group of children... 2 hours surrounded by 60 kids ages 5-13 none of whom spoke a word of English... I painted a sunset, then they each created one of their own.
                    ... like a dream I never even thought to dream.

On the last day in Indonesia, I got to enjoy an evening surrounded by new friends... Walking with feet in the waves... picking up shells and bits of coral... then sitting down to a food-filled a table in the sand watching sun set over the ocean... 
                      ... like a dream I never even thought to dream.

** Thanks to a precious interpreter who 
made the art experience work seamlessly.

** Thanks to my friend Olga who was the 
perfect model for the painting I knew I'd do.

Original Oil Painting on 18"x 24" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Indonesian Sunset" to purchase this painting.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Looking Ahead on the Mulberry River & Looking Ahead from Mount Magazine

Looking Ahead (on the Mulberry River)
Looking Ahead (on Mount Magazine)
Each of these paintings deserves its own post, but I just felt like they needed to stay together. Let me explain by sharing pieces of a Facebook Instant Message conversation.
WENDY: So one of my best friends has twin boys. They are getting ready to fly the coop.  I was wanting a painting of the twins when they were itty bitty.  You game?
ME: Hmmm... If the image is a good one, I'm game.  Do you have a good image of them doing something? Not just sitting and looking at the camera?
WENDY: I have to look.  I'll do some snooping. When you say doing something... like???
ME: Oh... I love images that tell a story... that are about what was happening... More than... here are two kids... they are cute.  If you want that, just blow up the photo. I want images that tell a story... not just a kid pretty and smiling. Let me send you a few examples of what I mean. 
WENDY: I love it!  I'm on it!
About 10 minutes later two images popped into my Messenger feed.
WENDY: Like these?
ME: Oh, Wow! There's a STORY in these images!
WENDY: This is what they love.
ME: One is vertical and the other is horizontal.  Some would want them to be the same.  I kind of love that they aren't though.
WENDY: I like the fact that they aren't the same because the boys aren't the same.
ME: I wouldn't tell you I love the images if I didn't.  I said I love images that tell a story.  You must get that because you went right out and found really good ones.
A few days later while I was working on the paintings...
ME: So... I need their stories!  Where are they? Yellow Rock? Devil's den? Buffalo River? White Reiver? With family? With each other? Boy Scouts? Woodsy guys? Seniors? Accomplishments? Just regular outdoor outings?  All you said was that these photos show who they are...  So... details!
WENDY: Huge accomplishments.  Very outdoorsy. Love outings with friends. Coming up the Hill next year.  Always together.
ME: Thank you for letting me do this.  I loved the photos you chose.  I hope their mom is pleased with the paintings.
*Unless you're from Fayetteville, you might not know that 
"coming up the Hill" means they'll be attending the 
University of Arkansas.

Original Oil Paintings on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvases

Wednesday, April 18, 2018


I've got peace like a river...
I've got peace like a river...
I've got peace like a river...
in my soul.

Guess what...
This is my 400th painting.
I can not believe it!

Although I love the very first painting I did back in 2007, I do think I've improved as an artist over these 11 years and 400 paintings... ha ha... just a little bit! 

This painting began with a tutorial by Kevin on using the palette knife.  It also started out as a disaster.  I carefully followed instructions and ended up with a sky that looked like a tornado was about to drop down at any minute.  There was a definite tone of anger and a foreboding mood. Usually, I would have worked with it, but this time... I wiped all the paint right off, set my mind set on the tone and mood I wanted, and used my artistic license (which comes in handy). I also gave myself permission to use brushes as well the palette knife.  In the end I hope I created a feeling of peace instead.

I'm so glad this one ended up being #400.  
Peacefulness is a good representation of life right now.


     The other day… Hmmm… last Wednesday, I think…
     I was on my knees planting onions in the garden. 
    A light mist was in the air, but it didn’t matter.
    All was silent
        … except for the birds... and squirrels
        … and the tinkle of the wind chime...

     I looked around…

     I saw five colorful little chickens 
         pecking around under the dogwood on my right…
     I saw the cat in the flowerbed filled with daffodils on my left…
     I saw the dog lying under the little red bench in front of me…

     …And was taken aback by this thought.
             ...It’s Someday…

     Someday I’ll have time.
     Someday I’ll have a lush garden.
     Someday I’ll have chickens in the yard.
     Someday I’ll have a row of daffodils and irises.
     Someday I’ll make my own schedule.
     Someday I’ll make time to notice the sky.
     Someday I’ll learn which birds make which sounds.
     Someday I’ll relax.

     I literally sat back, looked around, and thought,
        “Oh, my goodness… I’m living a poem..."

Original Oil Painting on 12" x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Friday, April 6, 2018

Tweet III

This little bluebird has been my helper several times when I've helped someone give oil painting a try.

These beautiful young ladies call me Aunt Helen.  So do their mamas.  Lucky me!  "Aunt" is a pretty special title. 
These cousins and their families came to NW Arkansas from Texas and from Kentucky to spend Easter at the home of their GrammaLita and Pepaw, my brother.  They had fun with cousins and second cousins and 15 new lambs and 10 great Pyrenees puppies and all the fun that goes along with family get-togethers.
But... these two slipped away for a 2-3 hours and came to my house for a paint party.  They were hard workers and ended up with very nice little bluebird paintings!

Theirs are priceless, but click "Tweet! III" if you'd like to purchase the one I painted. 
Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Cardinal Pair

I'm often asked, "How do you decide what to paint?" or "Where do you get your inspiration for paintings?" 

  • Sometimes I just paint what someone commissions me to paint, and that's an okay answer. I can do that.
  • When I choose an image, I look for the combination of elegance and simplicity.
  • I want my paintings to tell a story.  If "a picture is worth a thousand words..."  then surely each of my paintings should bring a hundred or so to mind.
  • I usually choose to paint what I know... what is a part of me and my little slice of the world.
Join me for a tour of a favorite little slice of my world...
Here it is... It's my favorite spot.  
What makes it so?  
Well, let's see... Let's begin with that chair in the middle.  There's a table on either side to put a drink or book or computer... convenient. There's a blue heating pad in the chair... just in case it's not quite warm enough outside.  There's a little blue stool in front of the chair... perfect for a 5 foot person who needs a few inches.  
And... there's a feeling of peace... 
It's quiet here, but there are lots of sounds... Depending on the time of day, there are birds of all kinds, peepers, crickets, frogs, and owls.  If there's a little wind, the chimes tinkle...
There's also the little scraping sound of the pieces of tin hanging from the tomato cages... Ha ha... a redneck attempt to keep deer away from the garden... 
Soon there will be flowers in the barrel, tomatoes and cucumbers in the cages around the edges (because deer don't like those), and okra, peppers, onions, and jalapenos inside.
If the sun is shining, maybe it would be better to sit on the little red bench beside the garden.  The hill behind it is actually the bank of the pond. It's got a path around the top and down to the water.
The row of daffodils, irises, tulips, lilies, hyacinth remind might remind you of where you grew up. That's why it's there.
A few other details to notice... 
There's a big pot where I grow herbs beside the bench. 
There's my little "It's been a pleasure reading and writing with you" granite block that my co-teachers gave me when I retired... sniff. 
Then there's our burn pit and a stick to guide the chickens toward their coop when it's time for them to be put up for the night.
Speaking of the girls... Did you know that they kind of purr when they're content?  Yes, they cackle when they lay an egg, but the purr is my favorite.

Welcome to the coops! Sylvia, Fancy, and Dolly sleep in the Sister House. Red Red and Other Red sleep in the Cousin House.
I asked for a birdbath for my birthday last week.... The deer think it was put there for them. 
I asked for a birdhouse for my birthday last year... The squirrels think it was put there for them.
And finally... the birds... the beautiful, beautiful cardinals...

Now back to the view from my chair... and... that scraggly tree right in the center of the view... Ahh... There's a story there!  The builders of our house asked if we wanted them to take it down, but we decided to keep it. And guess what we learned that next spring... and every spring since... It's a dogwood! Next week it will be gorgeous!

If you're ever near, I'd love to have you join me... in my favorite little slice of the world.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Little Gray Donkey (a.k.a. Clip Clop)

Doesn't he just look ornery! I bet the farmer who feeds him is either aggravated or laughing at him all the time.
His name is Clip Clop.

When my daughter was about three, her little choir at church sang a song about the donkey that Joseph led as he and Mary made their way to Bethlehem.  Each little one had a pair of rhythm sticks to tap together as they sang.
     Little gray donkey,
     Clip clop, clip clop,
     On the way to Bethlehem. 

     Little gray donkey,
     Clip clop, clip clop,
     On the way to Bethlehem. 

     Little gray donkey,
     Clip clop, clip clop,
     On the way to Bethlehem. 

Maybe there were more words, but I think they just sang those three lines over and over until they finished.  It was so cute.  
I think this little donkey is pretty cute, so I've named him Clip Clop in honor of the song.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
To purchase this painting click "A Little Gray Donkey"

Friday, March 9, 2018

Still Life - Blue Pitcher & Pink Roses

I finished this painting a while ago, but I got stuck wondering what to say whenever I sat down to write a post about it.

My art mentor, Cheri, had prepared this as one of my lessons on how to paint roses.  Her still life paintings are so beautiful. I am grateful to learn from her.

As we painted and talked, STYLE was a subject we kept coming back to.  I am fascinated by artistic style.

  • Loose brush strokes or tight
  • Simple subjects or complex
  • Bright colors or muted
  • Reaslistic or impressionistic
  • Lost edges or hard
  • Formal tone or comfortable
  • Textured paint or smooth
  • Do you choose your style, or does it choose you?
  • Can you change your style, or should you even try?
  • Am I guilty of saying, "It's my style" if the truth is I was just too lazy to make it better?
I was a teacher of writing long before I became a painter.  Style is that elusive feature of writing that's hard to put your finger on, but it's the reason we recognize and either enjoy or dislike a person's writing.  I don't choose to read a book or blog because the author put all the commas in the right place and spelled the words right.  It may be the subject matter or content that cause me to discover a blog, but it's the author's style that makes me want to "follow" it.
I think it's the same for style of art.  If you search "rose painting" on Etsy, you'll find about  4,500 listings.  How do you choose which one to buy?  Ah ha... style... (and maybe price.😉 )

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
It feels a little weird offering after that little rant... maybe there's a more positive word for when you go on and on about something you are interested in... maybe "sharing of thought"... but... If you'd like to own this little rose painting more than any of the other 4,499  rose paintings listed on Etsy, just click here.

Monday, February 26, 2018

(Almost) Surreal Water Lily Pond

As I looked at this big painting on my wall, I struggled to find a title for it.  I kept thinking, "It's huge... It's pretty, maybe too pretty... It's surreal..."  Then I wondered if I even knew exactly what surreal meant.  The dictionary tells me "...elements in it are combined in a strange way that you would not normally expect, like in a dream."  Okay... It's over-sized and over-pretty and over-pink... Perhaps a fairy will pop out of that yellow center when I'm not looking. It would make a very pleasant setting for a dream. So, yeah, I decided it was surreal. 
But, then I looked up images of surreal paintings and realized that I might need to put a light bulb on one of the lily pads or a couch in the background or maybe a human figure in place of a petal... yikes!  

Here's a picture of my work space during our painting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat. I keep a fairly organized work space when I paint, but I do tend to fill the space I'm given no matter how big it is. 😊

Thanks to Kevin for being our online  teacher for this painting.

Oil Painting on 18"x 24" Wrapped Canvas
Click "(Almost) Surreal Water Lily Pond" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Peace Like a River

This painting just makes me take a deep yoga-breath inhale then let it out with a sigh and a smile.

My painting friend Julie and I have been trying to become more proficient using a palette knife, so we turned to YouTube. (You can learn just about anything on YouTube!)

The frustration  beauty of applying paint on canvas with a palette knife is that if forces allows you to make loose strokes.  It totally cramped my style actually gave me such a feeling of freedom.
Ha ha... I guess you can see I endured enjoyed the process. 
Learning at any age is just hard. 
In the end... I really did love not only the process, but I really do love the final product.  

When I look at this painting, I hear the song that I use to calm myself whenever I'm heading into a difficult situation or am feeling stressed.  It's the perfect song for me as I am extremely lyrically challenged (I made that up, but it means I cannot remember lyrics to songs to save my life.)

     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river.
     I've got peace like a river in my soul.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas
Contact me if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Minstrel (a.k.a. Oo-de-lally)

I wonder what my five little hens would think if this guy came over to strut around the yard!
I know!
They'd say, "OOOooooooo-de-lally!!!"
Now that song will be stuck in your head all day long.
Ha ha!  Oh, well, it's a pretty happy thing to have stuck in your head.

"Laughin' back and forth at what the other'ne has to say
Reminiscin', This-'n'-thattin' havin' such a good time
Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day!"

Thanks Roger Miller for 
writing such a fun song.

These words fit pretty well for how my painting partners and I felt while we were painting roosters.

By the way, did you know that Robin Hood rooster had a name?  
It was Allan-a-dale.  
Hm... who knew!

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canavas
Click "The Minstrel (a.k.a. Oo-de-lally)" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Painting with Friends

It's not very often that a person or event completely changes the course of your life. 
I am so grateful that I signed up for a little painting workshop at my church 11 years ago this week.  
This beautiful person, Cheri,  said, "I want to teach you to see things in a different way."  
As I was working on that first painting, she came by and said, "You'll want to ugly up that blue sky; you need some ugly so that the beautiful will be even more beautiful."
Now, almost 400 paintings later, it's her voice in my head reminding me, 
"Squint way down and look at the shapes..." 
"Just be brave and put that paint on..." 
"Soften those edges until they're nearly gone..." 
"Stand back and look at it..." 
"Think about where your light source is..."
"See where the darkest dark meets the lightest light..."
"Put a little purple in it..."

For about 5 years I got to paint with her every week.
What a treat when I get to now.
I learn so much just by watching her work.

About 5 years ago, I asked a teacher down the hall if she'd want to come over and paint.
Julie and I have painted together every week since.
It makes you better to have a partner... for encouragement, help, ideas, and laughter.

What a wonderful, creative, productive weekend we had.
First an evening at Cheri's house in Oklahoma for a lesson.
Then on to Welcome Home Retreat in Texas for two and a half days of art. 

Thanks to Sheila who had the idea and made it a real place... a place where women can relax... can create... and can be inspired then inspire others.

I'm going to touch up and finish each one, but... hey, I'd say it was a pretty productive weekend!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

PInk Roses

The thought of painting roses has always intimidated me, so I've avoided them.
Cheri, my art teacher/mentor/friend loves painting roses, and she paints them so beautifully.

She was determined to teach me, so last week I drove to her Oklahoma farm for a lesson.  

I believe we were in her studio painting for 16 of our 24 hours together.
Lo, and behold, some roses showed up on our canvases!

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Pink Roses" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Yellow Butterfly in Some Pink Daisies

How come the paintings that should be simple sometimes aren't?

This little painting was supposed to be a little in-between one.  
I was going to begin it one evening then finish it the next day or so. 

I did the background...then changed it completely... 
I blocked in the flowers...  then re-painted them... 
I added the butterfly... finished it... re-did it... finished it again...

It looked fake... something was missing...
I put in some grass...

The flowers were good, the butterfly was good, the background was good...
But nothing went together.  
It looked like I'd painted them separately then cut them out and glued them together! Besides that, it looked like a painting about pink flowers that just happened to have a yellow butterfly on them instead of a painting about a yellow butterfly sitting on pink flowers.
Hugh Sigh!

Like it was a misbehaving child, I decided to ignore it... 
Walk away... just walk away... 

Finally I added a little more grass... highlighted the flowers... messed up all the perfect lines on the butterfly... took out one big flower completely... put a glaze on part of the background... and... finally signed my name.

And all that for little bitty 6"x 8"  canvas!

I like it though. 😁

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
If you'd like to own this lovely little painting, just click "Yellow Butterfly in Some Pink Daisies."

Friday, February 2, 2018

Three Silly Goats Gruff IV

Do they look familiar?
I know... I know... I know!!
I have a folder filled with images I want to paint, so why would I keep painting the same one!
Three Silly Goats Gruff 4/14

We enjoyed the first one on our wall so much... for a week... then it sold... 

Three Silly Goats Gruff  11/14

Three Silly Goats Gruff  12/17
The second 
one was done for the owner of these funny little goats, so we only got to enjoy it until the paint was dry.

A couple of months ago, Ron said, "Why don't you paint those silly goats again.  I liked them."  So, I did them a third time, and we laughed as we hung them on the wall... where they hung for two days!  Then they sold!

So... one... more... time!!!

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Wrapped Canvas
Not for sale right now... maybe later 😊