Monday, January 15, 2018

Word of the Year

A few years ago I noticed that a lot of people would choose a "word of the year" as kind of a thought to keep in mind or maybe a new year's resolution.  I don't know if they still do that... probably not... figures that I'd join in that fad about the time it was fading... doesn't matter... I like it.

My 2018 Word...
For the first time in my life, I have time...
... time to help.
... time to do.
... time to go.
... time to wait.
... time to say yes.
I am so grateful to have time and to be able to make choices about how I spend that time. 

This is the inside of my armoire door.  Nobody sees it except me, but when I take something from the printer or get some office supply, I see these reminders.

They didn't all begin on January 1.  The year of a teacher begins in August, so maybe they're just "Words of the Season" and last until a new one speaks to me.

I guess if I'm going to show them, I should explain them. So... Let's see...
"Be George."
I've had my time as Paul and John... Nobody want's to be Ringo... but George... George was in the background, not the limelight.  He added value, but you forget his name.  He was important, but his role was to support.
Two or three years ago, I began to step back. I'd spent my time in the spotlight... won the award... been the one to willing stick my neck out... taken the mic... put my name on the top. And, I guess, I knew it was time to "Be George" and support the next generation of leadership.
Once I realized that last year would be my final year as a teacher, I knew that so much of my life was about to change.  Things would end.  I wouldn't be with many of my good friends every day.  I would be facing many one-last-time events. (One last group of kids... one last Christmas party... one last set of report cards... one last snow day... one last parent conference... one last assembly... one last intern... one last opportunity to...) I wanted to take it in, to savor it, and to be purposeful with every conversation, action, and  attitude.
There wasn't a word to fit just what I needed, so I did a very Helen-like thing and made one up.  If you take that word apart... prefix, root word, suffixes... you'll figure it out.  
We've accumulated "stuff" until it nearly overwhelmed me.  In the last five years, we lost my mother-in-law, my father-in-law, and my mother.  With the passing of each one, we acquired stuff.  In the last three years my parents moved into a smaller house, then my dad moved into a retirement center.  With each move, we got more stuff.  My elderly neighbor needed help clearing out things, and we got more stuff.  I closed down my classroom that I'd spent 32 years building and filling with all the things a classroom needs.  If purchased with school money, it stayed; however, much of it was mine, and that stuff came home.
Stuff... stuff... stuff!!!
Yes, I've read about the Konmari method... I hate it.  It shows me how much stuff I should let go of right now.  I know people say that "things" aren't important, but they are to me.  I want to touch the buttons and thread that belonged to my mother or the dishes that were my husband's grandmother's. 
Anyway... It's a process... I'm still working on it... It's ok... 
But, I do not want to bring any more stuff into this house!

I'm anxious to see what "Available" brings my way this year.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Glimpse of Red

Glimpse of Red

When there’s a glimpse of red in the world of white,
     You simply must pause and admire for a while.
When there’s a glimpse of red on the blanket of snow,
     You stop what you’re doing to watch and smile.

In a world that’s filled with grays, blues, and browns
     The glimpse of red is so unexpected.
As the cardinal flits near and lands on his perch,
     How can your spirit not be affected?

First you gasp, then you sigh at the glimpse of red.
     You look and listen for his message to your heart.
“…All is well.”  “…I’m just out of sight.”
     “…It’s a beautiful day,”  “…Make a fresh start.”

If there’s a cardinal outside, you want to share it!
   “Come look! There’s one!  Another! Oh, there’re four!”
Just glimpses of red… “Wait! Where did they go?”
     So you stay near the window just a few moments more.

When there’s a glimpse of red in a world of white,
     You stop, take a deep breath, and feel your spirit lift.
When there’s a glimpse of red on the blanket of snow
     You savor it, appreciate it and know it’s a gift.

When there’s a glimpse of red in a world of white.

One of my favorite things about being an artist is being able to say, "I can do that for you!"

Sandra of MMM! Quilts posted this photo and wrote  "I like cardinals. That would make the most perfect Christmas card wouldn't it? If I could photoshop out the upside down patio chair legs, that is LOL. When I posted this photo along with two others on Instagram, Tish reminded me that cardinals can be seen as a visit from our loved ones."
Then I was able to respond with this comment. " Cardinals... so gorgeous... It is impossible not to stop and look when they're flitting around in the snow. And... I might just know of a way that your image could be made into a Christmas card with the chair legs edited out... he he... :)

The story behind this painting is hers to tell, not mine. But, I will say that I love how this painting came to be.

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Purple Hummer - for Jolene

Jolene loved sunsets. 
She loved hot air balloons.  
She loved her cats.  
She loved flowering plants and had a gift for knowing how to make them flourish.  
She loved beautiful special rocks and displayed them in her office space, in her home, and in her yard. 
She loved hummingbirds and had so many that she had to refill the feeders on her porch every day in the summer.  
She loved the color purple. 
She was clever and crafty and creative and artistic. 

Five years ago we started painting together on Tuesday evenings. She was a lefty and had an odd way of holding her brush, but it worked for her. She was determined to learn, to get it right.  We’d paint on a piece for a few hours on Tuesday then she’d go home and work on it some more.  So often I’d get a text late at night with a picture of what she’d done.  “What do you think?  What do I need to do now?”  Usually the answer was, “Absolutely nothing. It’s perfect. Sign your name.” 

A special friendship bond is created when you paint together.  You are in a small room for an extended time, your hands are busy, and you are facing your canvas instead of each other.  All those factors lead to real conversation.  Of course we griped about whatever needed to be complained about (school stuff, politics, news, etc.) and talked about the art we were working on. But, eventually we settled into real talk. Jolene talked about her daughter, husband, her mom, her sisters, her cats, her home – what she’d been doing to decorate or what plants she’d been setting out.  Jolene also loved to talk about things that made us groan… having her aura read and psychic shows and haunted places and UFOs; she loved her paranormal.   And, she sometimes brought a copy of the Eureka newspaper so she could read the police reports to us. (They’re pretty funny… “Officer was called to a residence on Maple to check on cat that wouldn’t stop yowling.  Officer asked the owner of the cat to put it in the house.”) She’d talk about whatever other craft she’d been working on.  And, Jolene talked about the future.  She loved making predictions about what might happen.  Her predictions were always positive. 

She was such an encourager.  She’d say specific things she liked about people. She’d give specific praise about paintings.  She’d predict exact positive things that she just knew were going to happen.  I am personally holding on to a couple of those predictions that she made. The last text I got from her was one of encouragement and prediction.  How perfect.

Losing Jolene makes me sad. She wouldn’t like that, but it does.  
In memory of Jolene, I want to create beautiful things.  
I want to be encouraging. 
I want to be available.  
I want to be kind.

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Canvas
Click "Purple Hummer" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Three Silly Goats Gruff III

I know, I know... Haven't I painted these three silly goats before?
Yes, but they just... crack... me... up!
I think this is a painting about attitude as much as it's a painting about goats!

That first one, Gladys, is about out of patience.
The one in the middle, Gabby, just wants to be a part of the fun.
And Percy, on the end, either has a joke to tell or has just played a prank.

I love them!
The first time I painted them, they sold as soon as they were dry.
The second time I painted them, they went to live in the home of the family that actually owns them.
This time maybe I'll get to enjoy them on my own wall for a while.  (I feel like I need to stop and have a conversation with them every time I pass by them.)

Thank you Renee for taking the picture and for letting me put it on canvas... again... 

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Wrapped Canvas

Sunday, December 24, 2017

2017 - Favorite Moments

Goodbye 2017!  
Thanks! You were great!
Here's a peek through some favorite moments of 2017!

A week at Disney in September...
a big deal since I've been in the first month
of school for the last 32... ummm... 47 Septembers. 

My favorite people!
A dream come true to take our kids to Disney.

What an honor... a permanent reminder...
Helen was here... 

Last day of school... ever...
So happy... and so sad... mostly happy.
Good bye little red bug... 😔
Welcome little green bug!😀

28th Summer Week at Lake Ouachita.
28th Family Photo at Lake Ouachita.

A weekend with sisters at Welcome Home Retreat.
Painting retreat at Welcome Home Retreat.
Adding chickens to our family!

Hatching two babies!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

MMMooooo!! Hooray for Cows!

The white cow is saying, "Hey, y'all!"
The brown one is saying, "We look good, eh?"
(Please insert appropriate Southern and Canadian accents.)

This is the tale of two good friends
But not the kind with tails on their ends.

They're kindred spirits of a nature divine
That all began with a picture bovine.

With a note to Ontario from way down in Arkansas,
A bond started forming, much to their shock and awe.

It was a little green cow face made for a quilt
On a PInterest pin that this friendship was built

So as you watch these gals chew their cud this fine day.
Know that they're thinking, "Those girls could find a way." 

One day they'll meet, whether north, south, or between.
And to think it all started with a little cow of green.

Here's that Pinterest picture that started it all.

Which led to me clicking it and going to the blog behind it...

Which led to me loving the blog and deciding to read it from the beginning...

Which led to me realizing it was time for me to retire...  (Yeah... y'all can tell that there's more to that story, eh?)

So... back to the little green cow face...

Which led to more cow faces and even some poems and limericks as each was named...

Which led to this amazing quilt...

... and a lot of blog comments and e-mails in between...

Which led to... a Little Green Cow quilt block of my VERY OWN!!!

She's gorgeous!
And, she hangs on the wall of my Atelier, my painting space, where she watches every thing that goes on!

Full circle it comes with moos and wows!
Today I say, "Hooray for cows!"


Original Oil Painting on 20"x 20" Canvas
Not for sale yet... I think I'll enjoy it on my own wall for a while. 😊

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Red Rose Trio

Does is look like I have a guest artist posting today?  


I painted this rose... did the whole thing with a palette knife, five colors of paint, and a great instructional YouTube video.

When my husband came home and saw it, he said, "Whoa!  That's really nice... but it doesn't look like you. It's really good though."   I love that he liked it, but I also loved that he recognizes what is and isn't my painting style.

I've been thinking a lot lately about style or art voice.  
  • What makes up our style? 
  • Do we get to decide what our style is, or does it just happen?
  • Does our art style change over time?
  • Is my art style different from my artist's voice?
Sure, we recognize Monet's soft impressionism, Van Gogh's abrupt blotchy strokes, Norman Rockwell's detailed story-telling paintings or the work of Mary Cassatt, Jackson Pollock, or Georgia O'Keefe.  But, what about the styles and art voices of regular people?
  • I think of my art mentor Cheri's style...soft, lifelike, more beautiful than a photograph... I would know it anywhere (on a popcorn tin in Walmart, on fabric, on home decor at Hobby Lobby, or on the wall of my own house).
  • I think of my blog friend Nelvia's voice... brave, powerful, and thought provoking... I think she intentionally changes up her style as she continually challenges herself to try new things.
  • I think of the painting challenge site Paint and Draw Together.  Every month or so there is an image that artists are invited to paint.  I love to scroll through and see all the styles... All  are all exactly the same... and all completely different.
  • I think of my painting partners, Julie and Tana, and how we've learned to appreciate and encourage each other's personal styles.
This whole contemplation of style started when I told my friend, Sandra of MMMQuilts, that I preferred the style of her quilts to some others I'd recently seen.  That began the conversation... What is my style? 
She sent me the question, "What do you think sets your paintings apart?"
I quickly thought of several answers like... "Nothing" and "I don't know" and "Hmmm..."
But, I couldn't let it go.
This was my answer to her:
Sometimes I think I'm still searching for my style.... smooth or textured?... detailed or smudged?... bright colors or muted?... 
I can't know how my painting voice is perceived through my art, but I know how I want it to be seen...
I want it to almost be heard...
I hope that my paintings either tell stories or evoke stories...
I hope they prompt either memories or imagination...I hope they are realisitic and believable yet remain painterly.
I want them to be good.
 I'm interested... What are your thoughts on art style or artist's voice?

Friday, December 15, 2017

Kayden - Gators

I listed the little decorative name canvases in my Etsy store as a custom order listing just to see what might happen. I didn't have an example for a boy and was kind of worried about what I'd manage to create if someone wanted one for a boy's room. Two days later I got my first request!  And... it was for a boy!  She said his name was Kaydon and he loved the Florida Gators.  She asked if I could do it bigger, in Gator colors, and maybe even add an alligator.
The hard part...?  
Anyone who knows what it's like to live in the South already knows. 
Since I'm a born-and-raised Arkansas Razorback, I wasn't sure I could dip my brushes into the Gator blue and orange. (Ha ha ha!!!)  😉 
I put my team loyalty to the side and think I created something Kayden will be pleased to hang on his wall.

Just for fun.. 

Within seconds of taking the plastic wrapping off the canvas, Pounce decided that right on top of it was the most comfortable place in the room.  

You can tell by her expression that she had no plans to be happy about being removed.

Acrylic Painting on 12"x 24" Wrapped Canvas

Friday, December 8, 2017

Peyton & Anna

These were the instructions I was given:

  • "I have an idea that I want you to paint. These will go in their bedrooms.  They need to have their names on them and maybe a flower or a bird as a kind of decoration. The oldest is named Peyton, and she likes purple.  The youngest is named Anna, and she likes pink." 
Well... no one said they had to be plain and boring... so... voila!

What a fun project!  I couldn't wait to get started! I completely set aside what I was working on and got busy creating "something purple and something pink with flowers or birds to make them special."

I hope the one who asked for this is surprised and pleased at the same time.
I hope the little girls who receive them for Christmas are too.

Original Oil Paintings on 6"x 12" Wrapped Canvas.
Click here to order a custom name painting of your own.

Monday, December 4, 2017


He's gorgeous and he know it. You can just tell by his attitude!
But, I have to wonder... Doesn't he ever get tired of hauling all those tail feathers around!

Last month my sisters and I spent a crafting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat where they have some turkeys who walk around making sure all the guests are enjoying themselves.   

One morning while I was sitting outside, the two male turkeys were doing their best to show me how big and beautiful they were. (I know, kind of ironic for a turkey to be showing off in November of all months!) 

As they walked back and forth in front of me, I kept thinking what a lot of trouble dealing with all those puffed up feathers would be!

Fun fact...  If you laugh, the turkeys will gobble at you! 

While they paraded around, I took lots of photos thinking I'd paint one.. but alas... I decided a painting of a puffed up turkey would look like a brown blob with a head.

Instead of a brown blob painting called "Gobble, Gobble," I went with a fancy rooster painting called "Cock-A-Doodle-Do" instead.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16 Wrapped Canvas
Click here if you'd like to purchase it.

Friday, December 1, 2017


Meet Teddy.
He's Dexter's brother. He looks like a serious little old man. 

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

Thursday, November 30, 2017


Meet Dexter. 
He's a cutie.  

Does anyone else have a pet who gets needy when you're working.  Sometimes my little pup, Olivia, whines and begs to sit in my lap while I paint.  Once she settles, she's pretty still, so I don't mind.  

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 12" Wrapped Canvas.

Monday, November 27, 2017

My Love & Ksses

Looks like I've flipped ahead on my calendar by a couple of months!  
Is it ever too early for love & kisses though?

I have a reason for painting ahead of the season, and it goes along with some exciting news.

You know those times one event ties in to a completely unrelated event relates to another unrelated event then ties into yet another and so on and so on until the story becomes a saga... but then... then... it all ties together and comes full circle in the best way? 
I had one of those a couple of weeks ago.
My exciting news is the end result of that full circle story.

My doctor asked me to hang my art on his exam room walls.  I know it's not a gallery in a museum, but oh my goodness, I am so excited!  

There's that lag time after the nurse takes your blood pressure and gets your list of complaints that you're left alone in the room to sit and wait.... and now... to look to your left and see some paintings! 
He gets a pretty wall.
I sell a painting every now and then.
Yeah! Win-win!
I had to gather up all the paintings I had around the house to see if I could find some that would go nicely together.  I had enough for a farm or country room and a winter or Christmas room.  (I also put the big hollyhock painting in the hall between them, but I forgot to take a photo of that one.)

So, now do you see why I'm painting a valentine?  In a month I'll need to trade out the Christmas-y ones.  (Although a more positive outlook would be that the Christmas paintings would have sold out and need to be replaced!)

If you'd like to have this little painting before it hangs there, click "My Love & Kisses"  to purchase it from my Etsy shop.

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Indoor Kite Creations

I want you to see some of my daughter's beautiful needlework.  She has always had some sort of craft to work on, and now she's opened an Etsy shop. Click Indoor Kites Creations and have a look. 
The detail of this storybook one is amazing. 
Wouldn't that be a gorgeous quilt top or wall hanging!
I love the Old McDonald's scene.
A whole farm made of tiny stitches!
Cute, sweet, gorgeous!Love the toy box one.
I wonder how many tiny x stitches make the picture.
She does crochet work too.
Beautiful bright granny square!

Sweet little bunnies!
Funny, I decorated her nursery with bunnies almost 30 years ago!
I love the details of each animal square.
So cute!

Click any of the links and have a look!