Friday, July 6, 2018

Sunrise at Shangri-La

Comfort food - beef vegetable soup
Comfort clothes - the oldest jeans and big paint-stained tee-shirt
Comfort drink - coke from Sonic
Comfort music - country
Comfort view - Lake Ouachita

This is my view from the porch of Cabin E at Shangri-La Resort on Lake Ouachita.  

My family started spending a three-night reunion here 29 years ago... when we filled 6 cabins.  Now we need 9 cabins and 8 rooms!  

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, July 3, 2018


This is our little LaurelAnne (a.k.a. LaLa)  She hatched into our hearts two weeks ago.

She (...and I realize I have no idea whether she's a she and will begin to lay eggs in a few months or grow a long tail and begin to crow, but until then, she's a she...) is just the cutest little ball of fluff!! 
I can't tell you how much time I've whiled away just watching her flit around beside/under/behind Sylvia while she's learning all the important chicken things she needs to know!

My pretty little garden... Looks like I'm in a pen, right?
I keep things that aren't tasty to deer in the perimeter cages.
Training the cucumber vines to climb up and stay in their own 
cages is a daily thing. They grow so fast!
Things just taste better when you pick the yourself, don't they.
If even half of my yellow blooms become
cucumbers,I will have a bumper crop this year.

Roma and cherry tomatoes seem to grow best for me.
I wish those big beefsteaks grew well here, but my
little guys are have big flavor.
More jalapenos that we can ever use,
but they're so fun to grow and pick!
I can't imagine who ever decided that a bell
pepper should be a food, but Ron likes
them. And they are so pretty.
Okra have the most beautiful blooms.
I like growing and preparing them,
but again, Ron's the one who eats them.
Zinnias have to be in my garden. My mother grew them
and her mother grew them, so I grow them.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Stargazer Lily II

If you read yesterday's post, you know that my art friend Nelvia put me up to a Facebook challenge that I truly dreaded doing. I had some sort of irrational fear of showing my art to people who know me. And, if you read it, you know that it turned out to be the best thing ever.  One reason was getting to reconnect and paint with a friend from college.

But wait!!  There's more!!!

Mixed in with all the sweet comments from friends, came a comment on each of the seven days from Lynn. The comments turned into conversations. Lynn had been my high school Sunday school teacher!  Between moves and name changes and 36 years, we'd completely lost touch but reconnected through Nelvia's challenge!
We discovered that we'd both spent the years as teachers and both happened to live in the same area now. As it turns out, Lynn's always been artistic and longed for an opportunity to learn to paint.

Who knew what wonderful things would come from that little Facebook challenge. 
And... yes... there are few other good things yet to add to this challenge story!!

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 6"x 2.5" Canvas.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Apple Slices V

I want to give my artist friend Nelvia a shout out... and... a big thank you. 
She invited me to participate in a Facebook challenge to post a paining every day for a week.  
If I'm being completely honest, I did not want to do that!  
I always put my art out in the world for strangers, but I rarely do for the people I know.  What if they don't like it? What if they are annoyed that I'm posting every day? What if they unfriend me? 
How's that for pitiful art self confidence!
Well, of course, none of that happened. It was pretty much the opposite.
People made such nice comments, and friends I hadn't heard from in years  decades reached out!
One of those friends was Dayna.  She lived down the hall from me when I was a freshman in college.  Besides a  wedding a few years ago, we hadn't had a conversation in 34 years!  Through a few Facebook conversations, we discovered that we now live in the same area, both retired recently, and both wanted to do art with friend.  It has been so good to reconnect.
I've used this little apple several times.  It's a good little first-time-to-paint picture. 
So... thank you so much Nelvia. And... guess what... This isn't the only fantastic thing to come from your challenge... Stay tuned!!  

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas.
Click "Apple Slices V" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Old Barn in the Smokies

I love old barns... The old wooden ones with the rusty metal roofs... The one like my grandma and grandpa had... Barns that were filled with cows and hay and plows and mules and kittens and ropes and chains and buckets... 

Maybe my favorite paragraph ever is the one that describes the barn in Charlotte's Web.
The barn was very large.  It was very old. It smelled of hay and it smelled of manure.  It smelled of the perspiration of tired horses and the wonderful sweet breath of patient cows.  It often had a sort of peaceful smell - as though nothing bad could happen ever again in the world.  It smelled of grain and of harness dressing and of axle grease and of rubber  boots and of new rope.  And,  whenever the cat was given a fish-head to eat, the barn would smell of fish.  But mostly it smelled of hay, for there was always hay in the great loft up overhead.  and there was always hay being pitched down to the cows and the horses and the sheep.
.... Sigh... 
Thank you, E.B. White, for painting such a beautiful description with words.

When I started looking for a picture of a barn to paint, I remembered this one that I took this a few years ago when we were in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

I painted it, finished it, and photographed it.  But, didn't blog about it because something wasn't right.  I just left it on an easel and avoided looking at it. 
Finally, I sucked it up and really looked at it to see what one little thing or two needed to be tweaked... ummmm... or seven or eight things...

  1. The tree back looked like a lollipop.
  2. The road made it look like the barn was sticking out its tongue.
  3. The tree in front was too small and messed up the whole perspective.
  4. The back field was too light and looked like a scum-covered pond.
  5. The back row of trees was too green and looked like a giant inchworm.
  6. The first mountain was too dark.
  7. There was a lot of the same green going on.
  8. The grass was boring.
Sometimes the painting fairies come in during the night and make a painting look better than I thought it had.  Sometimes I just have to do it myself. 
I love the final finished version.
I can just imagine all the work and joy and stress and daily routines and life that went on in that barn when it was new.  

Original Oil Painting on 10"x 20" Wrapped Canvas.
Click "Old Barn in the Smokies" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

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!

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