Saturday, August 1, 2020

Inspiration Collaboration - August 2020

Will you look at these images, choose one, and create art of your own?Click HERE to read the short story behind each one to help you choose.
It's easy to be a part.  
Click HERE for instructions.
We look forward to seeing your quilt... or your photograph... or your drawing... or your art journal entry... or your painting... or your wood carving... or your collage... or...

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

George's Miss Conduct

Sometimes the hardest part of a painting done as a memorandum is choosing just the right image... one that reminds... one that causes a happy memory to come to the surface... one that brings a smile.

A dear friend asked me to paint two of this type of painting recently.  I asked her if she'd like to write the post for them.  Click HERE to see the first.

Here is the second:

Since the pandemic began months ago, life has seemed more fragile than ever before. Finding a gift for a special family member or friend has become a quest. I "need" to give a gift that will be a lasting symbol of our relationship or a treasured memory. Helen's willingness to listen to each story attached to my photos has provided a way for me to satisfy this need. 
I have a loyal, longtime friend, Rita, who has survived two recent losses of loved ones. I wanted to give her an image to spark a positive memory for each of them. Helen suggested painting an object reflecting a life passion for each. Perfect! 
The red whitewater boat named Miss Conduct was built by Rita's long time partner, George, and a friend of his. The passion of rafting big whitewater rivers out west is shared by Rita. Helen did justice to the photo by carefully gathering information on each part of the photo. What color is this or that? Whose truck is in the background...what model? Revisions, revisions that led to just the right image. Creativity coupled with patience and a desire to get it right led to an amazing memory painting.
It was a pleasure to work with her to make these gifts just right.

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 12" Wrapped Canvas


Monday, July 27, 2020

A Sister's Gift

Sometimes the hardest part of creating a painting done as a memorandum is choosing just the right image... one that reminds... one that causes a happy memory to come to the surface... one that brings a smile.

A dear friend asked me to paint two of this type of painting recently.  I asked her if she'd like to write the post for them. 
Here is the first:
Since the pandemic began months ago, life has seemed more fragile than ever before. Finding a gift for a special family member or friend has become a quest. I "need" to give a gift that will be a lasting symbol of our relationship or a treasured memory. Helen's willingness to listen to each story attached to my photos has provided a way for me to satisfy this need. 
I have a loyal, longtime friend, Rita, who has survived two recent losses of loved ones. I wanted to give her an image to spark a positive memory for each of them. Helen suggested painting an object reflecting a life passion for each. Perfect! 
In March, Rita's sister lost her battle with Covid 19...just as most of us were beginning to pay attention to the warnings. It was a devastating loss for family and friends. For Rita to lose her older sister, traveling companion and friend, not long after George was incomprehensible. I learned that Patti was multi-talented as an artist, a gardener, and a designer of floral arrangements. Helen captured the beauty of this design for Patti's son's wedding perfectly. Another memory painting to be treasured!
It was a pleasure to work with her to make these gifts just right.

Original Oil Painting on 6"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

Friday, July 24, 2020

Harvesting Sunflowers... For the Chickens? or the Squirrels?

Sunflowers are the best.
I love them. I've painted a few.
I think row of sunflowers belongs in every good-sized garden.

My sister had a great row of sunflowers this year, so I thought I'd harvest them.  The chickens would be so pleased!  Right? 
Such a pretty row!
When they droop, it's time.
That should fill the three buckets I brought.
Rub the prickly fuzzy off.
Rip the petals off.
I wonder how many seeds are packed into each head.
(Google says about 1,200.)
These little ones get to keep their petals and get
to come live in a vase in my kitchen for a while.
The hens came running.
They took a peck... and said no thanks.
What!!! Ungrateful chickens!
But the squirrels had a fine time!
"I'll have 1,200 seeds, please. 
I'll leave 2,400 seed shell halves for you."
They'd eat all around the edges from the outside in.
"The purple ones are smaller. I might need two."
No need to share.  There was enough for everyone. 
And, they called their relatives.
The squirrels were also ungrateful.
No one cleaned up after themselves.
My whole backyard looks like this.
Sunflower middle surrounded by seed shells.
So funny!  They'd carry them around to a good spot.
Some were bigger than the squirrel eating them!

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Sunflower Shine

At midday, when the sun is high in the sky, the color shimmers off each petal as it reaches upward.  All day long, their faces follow the sun's path across the sky.  I stand quietly at the edge of the garden and watch their silent nods, a show that gives me pause, reflecting on a season well spent.

Photo by Sara Harley
I was inspired by both the image and the writing from this month's Inspiration Collaboration image.  Sara wrote, "Late in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky, the light bounces off our small outdoor fish pond and into our home. For a short time, the glow dances across our living room ceiling in shimmering aerial ballet. I sit quietly in my chair and watch the silent performance, a shape shifting show that gives me pause, reflections and afterglow of a day well spent."
Original Palette Knife Oil Painting on 10"x 10" Wrapped Canvas.
Click Sunflower Shine if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020


He loves me...
     He loves me not...
He loves me...
     He loves me not...
He loves me!

Daisies are such happy flowers.

Until this one, I'd only painted one other daisy.  It was the fourth painting I ever did.  Although it was only my third lesson and way back in March of 2007, I have a clear memory of it.  We were to learn about seeing the color in black and in white. My teacher gave me a calendar page with a big white daisy on it. "Look at all the beautiful colors in that flower!"  Oh, dear... something was wrong.  I only saw a white flower.  She said, "Yes, it is white, but look closely and notice the purples and yellows and reds and browns and blues!"  Wait, did I get the wrong picture? Mine's just a white daisy!  She said that her goal was to help us to see the world differently, to notice the subtle variations in the colors of nature. Clouds weren't just white. Trees weren't just green. Water wasn't just blue. I tried. I tried to pretend I saw more than just white. 
The background was black... wasn't it?  "Yes, it's black.  But black has no life, so we won't open the tube of black paint." Oh, dear... Should I quit now? Will I ever "see the world differently" like she wanted me to?
Yes, Over time and through practice, I would learn to see the world differently, through artist eyes.
Photo by Sara Harley

Sara's Inspiration Image for July's Inspiration Collaboration gave me the idea to give painting a daisy another try.  And, yes, it was much easier to "see the color" in the white flower on a black back ground.

You can see my painting along with several other works of art inspired by A Touch of Sunshine.

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

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Inspiration Collaboration - July 2020

We want to see YOUR art this month!
Whether it's a quilt, a sculpture, a photographic collage, a painting, a drawing, a poem... it belongs!
Whether you're a returning participant or a newcomer... you belong!

Four new Inspiration Images are up for July!

It's easy to be a part of this creative community.
  1. Click over to Inspiration Collaboration to get a better look at the four new Inspiration Images and read the stories behind each one.
  2. Choose one that inspires you to create.
  3. Make it!  (Make it with paint... or wood... or yarn... or fabric... or words... or a camera... or clay... pen and ink... or... )
  4. Take a picture of your art and send it to us!
You'll find everything you'll need to know  when you click Instructions for Submission.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Waiting Patiently

Every once in a while, I come across an image that I know I want to paint.
This was one of those.

It's such pretty group of cows and their calves patiently waiting.  
     Waiting for their farmer to come with feed...  
          Waiting for the sun to go down... 
               Waiting for the lady with the camera to go away...

I doubt anyone has ever used "patient" to describe me, but I do try to be. It's in my nature to move at a fast pace, to get the job done, to begin right now.  Since businesses, churches, and activities have been closed, however, life has moved at a slower pace. 

Maybe these pretty white cows can be a reminder.
     Slow down...  Take it easy...  Chew your cud and enjoy the wait...

Thanks to Sara Harley - Image Maker for letting me paint her photo. (And, yes, I know there was actually another little calf behind the big cow, but only his back end and tail showed! Maybe he was shy.) 

Original Oil Painting on 14"x 18" Wrapped Canvas.
Click Waiting Patiently if you'd like to purchase this painting. But... know that I'll be a little sad if you do since I look forward to having it hang on my own wall for a while. 😉

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Be Careful What You Wish For...

At the end of winter or beginning of spring, we had an idea.  We thought it would be fun to hack a trail from one end of our woods to the other.  It would be like an adventure through the forest we could walk with our grandbabies.  We gave an attempt at making it, but the woods was just an overgrown impossible mass of vines and trees and weeds and briers and brambles.  In the end, we decided that it wasn't feasible for us to do.

Be careful what you wish for...

Yesterday morning...
A guy from the utilities department came by.  He said they needed to trim a path under the power line that runs through the woods from the highway. He acted like he was asking permission, but really he was just making me aware.  
They did it the year after the ice storm of the century in 2009.  Their plan is to do it every 5-10 years so that there will never be another time when so many power lines get broken by falling branches and trees.

Yesterday afternoon...
There was a cacophony of chainsaws inside our woods.  I couldn't see them, but there was no question that they were wasting no time getting to it.

This morning...
There was a noise of destruction like I've never heard before.  I can only describe it as a cross between Dr. Seuss's Super-Axe-Hacker from The Lorax and a mechanical version of the Tasmanian Devil.

I could see it through the trees a little bit.  It would drive into a pile of yesterday's debris and start chewing and snarling and biting and tossing and pulverizing.  

After a while I just had to have a look.  I walked through the 10 feet of woods and could not believe it...
I walked up the swath of devastation and watched the Tasmanian Super-Axe-Hacker work.  In only a few minutes the nice guy in an orange hardhat came down to chat.  I could only say, "Wow..."   He said, "This will all grow back.  We just have to keep a path for the power line. That machine throws a lot of stuff a pretty far distance."  He didn't actually ask me to leave (my own property), but the work did come to a halt until I did.  And, I noticed he kept an eye out that I kept going back. 

Perhaps you think I might be stretching this just a little bit. 
This is the view from my mailbox on the highway. 
See that pole on the right side?
Let me walk up the highway to that pole...
Now you see that pole on the left.
That empty space beside it... was forest yesterday.
Let's take a closer look, shall we?
And... there's the pole, safe from any tree branch, ice storm, or creeping vine.
Courtesy of the Tasmanian Super-Axe-Hacker, yesterdays trees are...
 ... today's mulch.
This was the sight I was met by when I walked through my woods.
If you enlarge it, you'll see the man in the hard hat keeping an eye on both me and the Tasmanian Super-Axe-Hacker.
Look carefully through the trees...
Do you see it?
That's the antagonist of today's story... The Tasmanian Super-Axe-Hacker!
We still have a beautiful view from our drive.
Okay... I know I've been dramatic.
But, seriously... It felt (feels) a little dramatic...
I suppose we did get our trail through the woods that we'd wished for.
There's always some wonder here on Serendipity...

And to think I was going to write about the platter-sized snapping turtle we saw yesterday.  She'd dug a little hole, was backed up to it, and was just dropping her third egg down into the hole.  
Sheesh... and I thought that was an adventure worth telling!!

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Red Flowers in the Fence Row

I know that red and green have been claimed by the Christmas season, but I think red and green are the sign that summer has arrived!

There's a tradition at the Eaton house when the first tomato ripens. 
It's a special meal consisting of the exact same thing every year:

  • Wonder bread
  • Original Black Label bacon
  • Ripe garden tomato
  • Kraft onion dip
  • Ruffles potato chips
  • Sonic Coke

Original Oil Painting on 9"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
Click Red Flowers in the Fence Row if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Green Pastures & Still Waters

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul:
                                                                           Psalm 23: 1-3 

For me, this is an image that fills the senses.  
I can see the mountains, 
     hear the rustle of leaves, 
          feel the breeze, 
               taste the water, 
                    smell the fresh air.
I find it to be tranquil and soothing; I hope you do too.

Thanks to Robert Woods for making How-to-paint books over 30 years ago that are still great references today.

Painted in response to Inspiration Collaboration's June Inspiration Image Beyond The Stream by Sara Harley.

Palette Knife Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Onions & Heirlooms

Onions just pulled from the ground.
Crockery passed down from Grandma.
Plain, common... beautiful.
Whispers of home.

I did this painting for Inspiration Collaboration in response to Sara's Collected Memories.

Original Oil Painting on 9"x 12" Wrapped Canvas
Click Onions and Heirlooms to purchase this painting.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Best Friends Forever

It's a special thing to reconnect with a dear friend, a kindred spirit!  What an unexpected pleasure to receive her message.  When she asked me if I'd do a painting for her, I said,"I'd love to!" before I ever even thought to ask what she had in mind.
She sent me the photo and told me,"Gus was there to greet her when she came home from the hospital, and she was at his side at the end."

Because we used to teach writing together, I knew she'd be willing to add her own words:
"This magical painting is an 8th grade graduation gift for my granddaughter, Lily, during the 2020 Pandemic. It had to be a special gift, and it surpassed expectations. Lily and Gus were together for 11 of her 13 years... keeping company through thick and thin. I knew that Helen knew me well enough to express that connection. She is a writer/artist who understands that creativity in any art form requires a process, a series of stages from drafting to revising, and finally the product. We nurtured our love of teaching writing together over 20 years ago! Turns out shared writing is a tie that binds friends forever! Helen, "thanks" is too small a word for helping to reignite not only our friendship but my love for the process! Truly serendipitous!" C.O. 
I do love an image that tells a story on canvas.  I think this one does.

I am using this painting as my submission to Inspiration Collaboration's inspiration image called Resting Place. It mentions the joy of finding things in unexpected places... a place where one can stop and rest... a place where something is put.  I decided this baby cradled against her best friend/dog fit the requirements just fine.

Sometimes our "resting place" is only complete with that special furry friend at our side.

Good dog, Gus. Good dog.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

SSSssssssurprise in the Nesssssting Box

Serendipity, our little piece of the world is nearly always a peaceful and beautiful place to be.
We do our best to live at peace with our "neighbors."

But sometimes.... there's a conflict.

You might want to read about an indent with a raccoon and possum. Click HERE for that story and then HERE for the follow up to that one.

A couple of days ago we had an... an incident.

I had called my sister to see if she'd want to go blueberry picking that evening.  It was the first day of the season, and we wanted to be there for the first picking time! I was chatting and also multitasking by taking care of some outside jobs at the same time.   I had the phone in my pocket (Yes, the pocket of my pajama pants. Yes, it was the middle of the day.  Yes, when I saw the picture later, I wished I'd decided to wear real clothes that day!) and earbuds in my ears.  It was a beautiful spring day with birds singing, blue skies, and a light breeze. I checked the plants growing in pots on the deck then tossed some birdseed and dried worms to the hens in the backyard.
If you look through the slats of the deck rail, you'll see those seven happy hens. 
Hmmm... but I thought I had a dozen hens... 
I have five, yes FIVE, broody hens!  
They just want to sit there in their hot, dark nesting boxes all day long, day after day.  I don't have a rooster, so none of the eggs are fertilized.  (Ron takes a deep, patient breath and sighs as he reminds me that 12 is our top limit and that no, we do not need babies this spring.)  So, several times a day, I go out, and lift the broody girls off their nests, give them a snack, and tell them to go play.
So, still talking to my sister, I headed up to the coops.
First stop, the Sister House.  I slid my hand under Dolly and plopped her out onto the ground. The two little bantam (unless your redneck and call them banty, like I do) hens were cozy in the other box.  I lifted out Lena and talked to her a bit. She's so sweet.  Then grabbed Frinkles in a way she couldn't peck me.  She's feisty.
Next I moved on to the Cousin House where good ole' Fancy was snuggled in. She acted offended to have been disturbed, but out she went.  
I tossed them some seeds.  While they were clucking around, I moved on to the Friend House to rouse Dominique…
Without a thought I opened the lid to the last nesting box and...
This is your warning...
If you don't want to ssssssee what wasssssss in the box..
Don't ssssscroll any further down.

Holy Moly!! 
Jeeze Louise!!! 
Huge snake!!!
Slam that lid down!! 
Start running!!!
Kick in to get-r-done mode!

I’m not that good at knowing snake types past rattle snakes and copperheads so I can't be certain, but I'm pretty sure it was snake of mixed heritage... part black mamba, part cobra, part boa constrictor, part python, and part anaconda!  Equal parts of each!

Still on the phone and mid sentence...
"Around 5:30 I'll just stop by -- Eeeek!!!!  Oh, my goodness!  It's really big!  It's in the nest!  Oh, my goodness!  I opened the box to put my hand in. It was right there!! It's huge!  I've got to get it!!" 

Ron, at the kitchen table working where he's been since mid-March, had on his headset and was calmly on a corporate conference call.  

I burst through the back door, "Snake!  Are you in a meeting!? There's a snake!  It's really big! It's huge!  It's in the chicken nest! I have to get it!"

I ran to the garage to get the limb loppers. (No idea why that thought came to me, but it turned out to be a good one.)  I grabbed the loppers, ran back into the kitchen.  "It's huge!  I need gloves." (I started pulling on my little cotton gardening gloves... yeah... like they'd protect me from the four-inch fangs it probably had...) "It's so big!  Really!  If I've ever stretched it about how big a snake is, this time I'm not!" 

Ron... trying to nonchalantly remove himself from his meeting.... holding up a finger to wait just a minute...
A voice... My sister's... still listening to all this.  
"There's a snake!  I have to go!"

"Please still be there!!!” 
As we headed out to the yard, I grabbed a grill cleaner tool that was there on the rail. (It's kind of a bat like a club with a pointy thing on the end. Seemed like a good snake weapon.)

Get ready...
Get set...
I opened the lid! 
He raised his head.
Ron put the loppers around his neck and pulled him out...
Oh, my goodness!

"Wait!  hold him there!  I need a picture!  Don't let go! Hold him!!"  
Run back to the house... 
Get the phone...
Run back... 
Have a photo session...
Well... if you're wondering... 
No. It did not go well for the snake.

That dad gummed snake ate the golf ball and the porcelain egg that was in the nest!  (Chicken coops always have a fake egg or two in the box where they're supposed to lay eggs. A golf ball is just a cheaper version of the fake egg... assuming your chickens aren't smart enough to realize they're round instead of oblong.) 

He had two bulges in his stomach. 
"He ate my fake eggs! I want them back!"

Ron, who’s lived with me 35 years, was shaking his head thinking are you kidding me… no you’re not kidding… He begged me to not be serious, to just  buy new ones.  

"Nope! I’m getting those!"  
Ron groaned... just the  thought of me wanting to cut up the dead snake.

"Nope! I don't need to. I’m going to squeeze them right out the same hole that used to be his head!  
And… I did! 

Although the whole thing beginning to end was probably 10 minutes, it felt like an entire movie!  
Adrenaline rush for sure!

Then… I picked up my sister and we went berry picking!