Sunday, January 17, 2021

Cool as a Cucumber

How do you like your cucumbers? In a salad? Peeled and sliced? Pickled? Or, on someone's plate besides your own?  I don't eat them (from the grocery store) from about August to May.  But, in June & July... Summer garden cucumbers every single day!
I train my cucumber vines to grow up inside tomato cages.
The deer leave them alone pretty well if I keep them tucked inside the cages.

I love how the kitchen counter looks on summer days.
There is a limit to how many fresh cucumbers you want eat in a day.  
 HERE  is my favorite pickle recipe for the extras.

So why this summer painting and post in January?
This week's art challenge word was "cool."   After thinking through a list of ideas of things that are cool, I decided, "Cool as a Cucumber" would be a fun little painting.

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas
Click Cool as a Cucumber if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Thistles & Butterflies

In early September we went for our first day trip since the beginning of COVID-19. 

Staying mostly on rural roads, we left NW Arkansas... drove down Western Oklahoma... crossed into and over the Ouachita Mountains ... circled through my hometown... made our way back up to our home in the Ozark Mountains.

I love the Ouachitas.  I grew up right  in the middle of them.
The Talimena Scenic Highway is the best way to view them from the top.

Beautiful, I know.
But, what does this have to do with the painting?
The Talimena Scenic Highway has many pullouts or overlooks so that cars can stop and people can enjoy the view.  Of course I had my camera so I could take pictures of that view; however, I got distracted every single time.  At every stop, the ground was covered with thistles, and the thistles were covered with butterflies. I think I ended up taking about five photos of the mountaintop views and 50 photos of the thistles and butterflies.

The word for the weekly painting challenge with my art mentor Cheri was "lavender."  I went through several ideas for what I might paint, then I remembered these gorgeous lavender-colored thistles. Since we're making the rules up as we go, I decided that thistles would be the perfect response for "lavender."

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Canvas Board, Framed
Click Thistles & Butterflies if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Turtles on a Log


Nothing to see here… can barely even see the lake… just a bunch of twigs and branches and logs. Unless… Unless you look more closely!

You never realize how many turtles are living in a pond until the sun is shining brightly on an otherwise chilly day. Then they crawl up on the logs to bask in the light and try to soak up the warmth. (Somehow this makes the idea swimming in a pond or lake a bit less appealing to me!)

**You’ll just have to trust me that there were three times as many turtles on those logs seconds before I took the reference photo.  You see, I was on a hike with about 50 ten year olds.  Kids don’t really come walking around the bend in a quiet and peaceful way that would encourage turtles not to slip off the logs and back into the water.

Sara's inspiration image for January's Inspiration Collaboration showed a tangle of maple branches against the background of the cold sky with one thing that didn't belong, a pinecone perched there on the maple twigs. My response was to paint twigs and branches and logs on the cool lake with something at the center that doesn't... well, actually does... belong.

Original Oil Painting on 9"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
Click Turtles on a Log if you'd like to purchase this painting. In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy this one on my own wall.  My country girl spirit finds something very calming about it.

Friday, January 8, 2021

Nurturing a Love of Books

It's obvious that she's special to this little one. She's special to so many others too.  You see, back when I took my little ones to the public library every week, she was always there behind the desk with a book and a smile.

I was asked to paint her with her grandson and was given several reference photos to choose from.  Once I saw the one with her reading to him, I didn't need to look any further.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Inspiration Collaboration 2020 - Final Project Completed

Dear Friends,

12 months
15 participants
48 inspiration images
134 works of art created
Our magazine is complete!
Here’s the link that will take you to it.
The link will be good to enjoy the preview or to make a purchase for the next two weeks. (This was not a money-making venture.  There is a 0% mark-up on the cost of the magazine.)
This project has been a pleasure of 2020.
Now… it’s 2021!
Are you ready to create once again?
Most parts of Inspiration Collaboration will stay exactly the same. 
You may have noticed that there are two (instead of four) inspiration images.  We hope you’ll come up with some wonderful submissions in response to them. 
You may also have noticed that the blog looks completely different.  We hope you like the new layout.
In case you haven’t visited lately…
Helen & Sara

Saturday, January 2, 2021

House of Blues

The story of a mama's life...
Whether it's a bluebird or a tiger, a fox or a human, mama's have to keep the babies happy, dry, and fed. And, sometimes those babies aren't so patient while waiting.

Thank you to Tom of Piks of the Day, and Stuff! for letting me use his beautiful bluebird photos as reference for this painting.  Click the link and spend some time looking around. His photographs are amazing, kind of like flipping through a National Geographic only without the articles.

This week's art challenge  was "Flight." After searching through my reference photo folders, and almost giving up and deciding to paint a "flight" of stairs, I thought of Tom's blog. He's allowed me to use his photos before, and I knew he had many with birds in flight.  That's where I found this sweet little bluebird in a series of photos he called "Food Delivery."

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click House of Blues if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Inspiration Collaboration - January 2021

New year! New images! 
We hope you're inspired to create art of your own.   Click HERE to read the thoughts behind each image.
It's easy to be a part.  Click HERE for instructions.  
We look forward to seeing what you create!

Friday, December 25, 2020


She looks like she's big and fierce and in charge, doesn't she.  I think she might be one of those three things.  You can guess which?

Here's a peek into the process. Enjoy!

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Smoky Mountain Stream


I'd love to spend some time sitting on a big rock right there. 

I think there are "beach people" and "city people" and "lake people" and "big-sky people"... Which one are you? I think we're "mountain people."

Ron especially loves stopping at creeks and just spending time watching the water flow over the rocks. Here are some photos from some time we spent in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee a while back.  I used one of them as a reference for this painting.

This pretty little stream is my response to the third art challenge with my friend Cheri.  This week's challenge was "Rocks."

Original Oil Painting on 9"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
To purchase this painting, click Smoky Mountain Stream.

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Little Red Tricycle


Did you have one of these? I did.  It looked just like this one, and I rode it until I was much too big for it.
This little painting makes me smile. It's funny how an image of something so familiar from the past can bring long-forgotten memories to the surface.

This little tricycle is my response to the second art challenge with my friend Cheri.  This week's challenge was "Three Circles."

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click Little Red Tricycle if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Friday, December 11, 2020

Autumn Buck & Doe

When we go for walks down our road, we're greeted by our forest friends. They stop what they're doing and stare at us until one of them gives the signal (that sounds like a sneeze).  Then up go their tails and away they go into the trees.
We see them every single day, so they know us. That doesn't mean they trust us.  That's okay.  They need to be wary of people.

I do wish I could take some good photos of them, but I've decided that good wildlife photographers have an abundance of patience.  I'm more of a, "Well, hello there!"  📸*point...snap* then keep walking kind of girl.

If you click over to Inspiration Collaboration and look at Sara's Inspiration Image Winter Wonderland, you'll understand exactly why I had to paint my deer friends this month.

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas
Click Autumn Buck & Doe if you'd like to own this little painting.


This pretty little pup painting will be someone's Christmas surprise.

Sometimes it's fun to watch how a painting comes together. 
Enjoy this little video of the process.

Original Oil Painting on 10"x 10" Wrapped Canvas


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Christmas Tree Surprise (Mini x 6)

This was a fun little project.
Six tiny paintings for six special ladies.
I'm not saying anything new to say that 2020 has been difficult.  We know it's been especially difficult for some of our older friends who are practically home bound with Covid precautions.
I hope these happy little paintings brought a little Christmas cheer to some who we love... My Aunt Anita in Missouri... Ms. Hannah in the retirement center that my dad lives in... Ms. Francis who took care of my kids in the nursery when they were babies... Ms. Mary Ella who greeted us at the door every single Sunday morning for decades...
To give some size perspective, here they are beside a large version of this painting.

Original acrylic paintings on 5"x 7" Canvas Board
The 16"x 20" version is available. Click HERE if you're interested.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Mama Hen

 I love how this mama hen puts her wing over her baby when it's cold.

Monday, December 7, 2020

Blueberry Muffin

Blueberries are kind of new to me.  I don't think I ever had one as a kid.  It's hard to believe, but I was actually an adult with kids of my own the first time I had a blueberry muffin made with fresh blueberries. 

Not to worry! I've made up for it!  Several times during the month of June, I'll be at Stay-n-Step Blueberry Farm to fill a gallon bucket. 

I like to put so many blueberries in my muffins that they're just a yummy mess.

This muffin is the first from a weekly art challenge with my friend Cheri. This week's challenge was "Breakfast."

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Revisiting Christmas Past

I love coming across old fireplace chimneys.  I wonder about the house that it used to be a part of. I wonder about the family that sat by its hearth.
We discovered this one on a hiking trail in a nearby state park.
 I pass this one on the way to the grocery store.
Sometimes you just have to stop the car right in the road and snap a picture.
Christmas Past
 I painted this chimney twice in 2010 and decided 2020 was a good time to revisit it. 
Remember When...
When I painted this ten years ago, this is what I wrote:
This chimney sits along the road that goes between my two brothers' houses.  It just sits there in a little field all alone, but it's not lonely.  Imagine what this old chimney has seen.  I can imagine it kept  a family's cabin warm for years and years.  I can imagine the farmer who stacked the logs and built the fire.  I can imagine his wife who poked the logs and kept the fire going.  I can imagine the children doing homework in front of it.  I can imagine a cat curled up on the hearth.  I can imagine stockings hanging from the mantle year after year.  I can imagine... 

I knew that I'd revisit Christmas Past the moment I saw Sara's December inspiration image on Inspiration Collaboration. If the black birds could decorate a Christmas tree in a snowy field with lights and ornaments, then cardinals could hang stockings and garland on a mantle.

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Wrapped Canvas
Click Revisiting Christmas Past if you'd like to purchase this painting.
Christmas Past is available in giclee or print. Contact me if you're interested.