Wednesday, December 29, 2010


What was your favorite storybook?

Mine was Go Dogs Go! by P.D. Eastman.  Oh, how I loved that book!  "Big dog. Little dog.  Black dog.  White dog."... "Dogs in the shade under the house" while one was on top in the sun... My favorite page - one dog was wide awake in the bed while all the others slept... Then "To the tree!  To the tree!  To the top of the tree!" for the dog party!  And, of course, "Do you like my hat?"  
My mother took me to the county library every Thursday before grocery shopping.  I was allowed to check out 9 books each week.  She would only let me check out Go Dogs Go! every other week because "other boys and girls need a turn."  Hmmm... I wonder if that was the reason, or if she just needed a break from same book...

I could name dozens of books that I love and that I think every child needs to read - to own, but I always put silly Go Dogs Go! at the top of the list.  So, it's become a tradition it's part of the gift I give to every new baby born into my family.

Guess what... this Pepaw was once a teenager who let me crawl into his lap when I was not much bigger than this little one.  I just bet he read Go Dogs Go! to me a time or two.

So, what's your favorite storybook?

Saturday, December 25, 2010


What's more fun than a barrel of monkeys?

Is there even an answer to that question?  And, are they really that much fun anyway?

I never saw myself as a painter of monkeys, but I guess you just never know.  I learned a lot painting these three little guys.  For one thing, all the lessons and strategies that I'd worked to perfect with human anatomy just plain don't work with monkeys!  Fingers, ears, noses, lips... You know how at the zoo, you say, "Wow, they're so human-like..."  Well, no, they aren't!  Oh...ha ha ha... It was a fun task to undertake.

Remember that little plastic barrel that had the monkeys in it?  I'm searching back in my childhood memories... Was it a game?  Was it really supposed to be fun to try to pick them up?  Hmmm.... I'd like to give it another try.

Have a look at this Etsy site I found called Common Object Jewelry.  The artist has taken all sorts of everyday items and turned them into sterling silver jewelry - macaroni, goldfish crackers, gummy bears, and yes... a barrel of monkeys monkey!  How fun!  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Santa Nutcracker

Merry Christmas!

I don't believe this little guy has every actually cracked a nut, but he stands guard - ready to do so should the need arise!

He is one of the few nutcrackers in my collection that I actually purchased myself.  I love his simplicity.

Original oil painting on 6"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

Friday, December 17, 2010


What objects best represent Christmas?

My family has many traditions around the Christmas holiday season that are so important. This painting shows a group of objects that have special meaning to us. 

During December our house is filled with things that make us happy.
***There are nutcrackers of every size and color on nearly every shelf, table, nook, and cranny. 
***Candles add a sense of peacefulness (although I admit that I never burn the prettiest ones).
***I don't think I've ever bought a poinsettia, but we usually have one that has been given to me by one of my students. 
***The red beads have been getting my children (now grown) in trouble for years. They always wanted to play with them much more than have them just hang and look pretty. After years of fighting this, I finally gave up. Now, there's a whole bowl of red beads whose purpose is just to be played with.
*** And the Bible is central to Christmas morning when one of us reads from the second chapter in Luke.

Visit Nutcrackers  to enjoy an Etsy treasury (collection of vintage items, jewelry, and art pieces) which includes this painting as well as other items celebrating nutcrackers.

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14" Canvas Board

"Traditions" can be purchased in several forms.
Contact me if you'd like to purchase this image as a giclee, a print, or note cards.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lemon Slice

What does Christmas smell like?

I think it's a citrus-y, cinnamon-y, clove-y smell.  
This is a great little gift.  It's pretty to look at until you're ready to make the whole house smell like Christmas. Just dump it in a pot and let it simmer.   The ingredients I used are:
Whole Cloves
Cinnamon Sticks
Cinnamon Oil

A while back I was on a roll of painting citrus fruit.  It began with a challenge from the Rookie Painter site.   Sometimes painting makes me really "see" ordinary things for the first time.  I guess I never realized that lemons have a certain number of little sections.  Hmm... 
Becoming more observant is one the things I've enjoyed most about becoming a painter.

"Lemon Slice" is the little painting I submitted to the Rookie Painter challenge.  

It was featured in an Etsy treasury (collection of art pieces and vintage items) celebrating "Real and Imaginary."  I'm not sure whether the curator  selected it because it looked like a realistic piece of fruit (for the real) or because it looked like a gigantic piece of fruit coming over the world's horizon (for the imaginary)!!!  Either way, it's an honor to be a part of the collection.  Click to enjoy it yourself.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

:) Away in a Manger

What's your most cherished Christmas item?  

We have plenty of ornaments, decorations, and trimmings that we enjoy putting out each year.  But, if I have to choose only one, I don't have to consider very long.  It's this Nativity Scene (There are actually two-back to back) created by my own little ones when they were in the 4-year old Sunday School class many years ago.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I've got the 
down in my heart.
  Down in my heart!
     Down in my heart!!
I've got the
down in my heart.
Down in my heart
    to stay!!

Wet Paint in My Mind's Eye includes "Joy!" as well as 11 other paintings depicting joyous dancers! This painting was also included in Etsy treasuries (collections of vintage items and art pieces) celebrating Smiles and Happy Smiles.  Click to have a look.  It will put a smile on your face! Then click Smiles & Sunshine,  Joyor another J O Y enjoy treasuries that will make you smile on the inside.  Then enjoy the beautiful color combinations in Joy or in  Hot, Hot, Hot Summer Days.  Finally, visit the beautiful art represented in Artsy Etsy.

Click "Joy" to go to the Etsy site where this painting can be purchased.

I submitted this painting to an In the Moment challenge.  The challenge was to show and artistic interpretation of the word triumph.  And, doesn't she look triumphant!!  Visit this unique site to see how other artists have portrayed the word.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hot Chocolate

What does winter taste like?


Warm, milky, chocolaty... perfect...

Enjoy Etsy treasuries (collections of art pieces and handmade or vintage items) called Winter Warm Up or Warm and Toasty. They both celebrate all sorts of things that keep us warm when it's cold outside.  And visit Hot Cocoa or  Snuggle Up  for treasuries that focus on the lovely color of cocoa. Then there's Whipped Cream - Enjoy the Colors for a celebration of the stuff on top!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Christmas Past

Which Christmas traditions are unique to your family?

My family shares many traditions with the rest of the country - stockings on the fireplace, turkey and dressing, visiting grandparents, watching old family videos...
But we also have some others...
****Santa always brings socks (along with the fun stuff).
****Some sneaky person rearranges the N.O.E.L. stocking hangers to spell L.E.O.N. (I didn't realize this was a tradition until the year I just put them on the mantle like I knew they'd end up; the kids had a fit!)
****There's a sulky teenager on the couch while we decorate the tree. (We didn't realize this was a tradition until the kids outgrew it - so my husband volunteered to play the role!)
**** We relive each memory/vacation/event that goes with the Christmas ball purchased for each year (since 1985).
****There's a big bowl of Chex mix.
****The house is filled with a much bigger collection of nutcrackers than I ever meant to have. (One of the joys of being an elementary school teacher is getting presents - and lots of them have been nutcrackers!)
****All the silliness and fun stops after stockings are opened while someone reads the Christmas story from Luke 2.  What a special 5-10 minutes we share before the craziness of opening presents begins.

This chimney sits along the road that goes between my two brothers' houses  I've always loved imagining the families that sat in front of fires built there. What a surprise when stockings appeared on it before Christmas!!!

What an honor that this chimney has been  featured in an Etsy treasury (collections or art pieces and vintage items). Click
Twas the Night Before Christmas to enjoy the treasury.   

Original Oil Painting on 9"x 12" Wrapped Canvas

"Christmas Past" can be purchased in several forms.
Contact me if you'd like to purchase this image as a giclee, a print, or note cards.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pitcher & Vegetables

What one food makes Thanksgiving Thanksgving?

I'll be spending the day up to my elbows in mashed potatoes, grandma corn, pink fluff, deviled eggs, giblet gravy, and Chex mix.  And, all of those are vital to our family traditions on Thanksgiving, but...

In my family it's all about the dressing (pronounced dressin' ) - if you aren't from the South, you may call it stuffing.  Don't be fooled - it isn't the same thing. (The year my son was in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, we had turkey and stuffing in a lovely New York City hotel - definitely not the same thing.)  So, I thought I'd share:

Cornbread Dressing
1 pan crumbled cornbread  Every time I make it to go with soups, I crumble the leftover and freeze it.  By Thanksgiving, I have a big bag of it.  I know it's way more than 1 pan.
2-3 cups bread crumbs Just use 5-6 pieces of bread, heels, crusts and all.  Tear it up.
10-12 crumbled crackers Use whatever's left in the last sleeve of crackers.  Saltines are fine, or whatever you have on the shelf.
2 onions chopped Coarsely or finely chopped -your preference.  Use less if you don't care for as much onion flavor. You might want to saute them in butter first.
1/2 cup butter More is always better when it comes to butter.
4 cups chicken broth Have more ready just in case.  Your dressing must be runny when you put it in the oven
3 raw eggs, beaten Makes it fluffy!  I've even been known to put in a few sliced boiled eggs just for a different texture.
1 can pet milk This is the secret!  This is what we southerners don't tell people from other parts of the country.
1 cup chicken Chop it up and put it in.  You'll have it anyway since you're boiling it to make your own broth, right? (Just kidding - don't feel badly if you use canned broth.  You just won't have chicken bits to add.)
sage Use as much as you want.  This is the aroma that makes Thanksgiving special.
salt  Whatever amount seems right. Teaspoon, tablespoon...
pepper Whatever amount seems right. Teaspoon-ish,
Bake at 350-375 for 30-40 minutes. Cover with foil for the first part of cooking.

Have a little potato fun with this Etsy treasury (collection of vintage items and art pieces) celebrating the potato!  Click You Say Potato... I Say Potato... Then click Vegetables Are Good for You for a colorful, healthy, yummy treasury. And finally a celebration of all things Potato.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kiss on the Path

Where do you suppose that this path leads?

I loved this image from the first time I saw it.  I love the story it tells... kind of metaphorical, I suppose... A young couple in love and at the very beginning of their life together. They can see just a little way down the path, but the rest is... down the road...


Friday, November 12, 2010

Li'l Punkin'

Where do you look first, last, and the longest?

It's the eyes, right?  Why is that?  My husband and I have the privilege of taking care of the infants and toddlers in our church for an hour each week.   And I've noticed that even a baby of a few weeks old knows that it's all about the eyes!  They instinctively stare directly into their caregiver's eyes.

As I was scrutinizing each square inch of this painting, I realized I kept going back to the eyes.  Not fair that one square inch should demand so much attention!  I worked really hard those pumpkins and that hay and those stripes on his shirt! 

Once I decided that I'd done the best I could on my own, I took it to my painting mentor.  She admired it, complimented this and that, praised things that I'd done well... Then politely furrowed her brow and pursed her lips... I knew that I was about to learn what tiny (or huge) revision I needed to make if I wanted this painting to be "right."  Somehow, I knew it wouldn't have anything to do with the pumpkins, the hay, the little clothes... "Let's see if we can scoot that eye over a little bit."   Oh, how I love her for seeing what I miss and gently guiding me to get it right!  (But, that love arrives after a second or two of an internal scream of "Nooooooo!" that only comes out as a small sigh followed by, "Yeah, I see it now.  You're right."

And, in the end... look at those sweet little eyes.  Those are his momma's eyes.  Oh, how I loved those big brown eyes when I held, loved, and played with my first little neice!  I'm glad this "Li'l Punkin'" got his momma's eyes.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Here's Looking at You

Why would anyone paint this?

Well, I'll tell you how it happened.  I had the opportunity to enter two paintings in a 5x5 showing and auction at Art Center of the Ozarks.  I was sitting at Sonic (yum!) with my teenaged son talking about what I should paint.  I said I wanted to do something different than a flower or piece of fruit like most people would do.  I said, "I don't want to shrink something down, I want to paint something small but make it bigger.  But, I want to paint something that's really beautiful and colorful.  What could that be?"  He flipped down the visor, looked in the mirror, and said, "My eyes.  They're small and beautiful and colorful."  That was it!

I suppose I shouldn't ruin it by telling how he whined and fussed at me having to take at least a dozen pictures to get a good one of each eye.....

I entered one of these little eye paintings in a challenge that encouraged artists to think about "Color" and what colors represent in different contexts.  Visit "In the Moment" to see the other "color" pieces.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Pumpkin Time

What colors are supposed to be calming and relaxing?

I'm pretty sure, they're blues, greens, purples - the cool colors.  I thought the warm colors were supposed to do just the opposite.  Right?  Reds, oranges, and yellows are supposed to stimulate or cause excitement.
So why do I want to go into this scene and simply relax, be still, let the time pass without accomplishing any tasks?

This imaginary place was just too wonderful not to visit twice.  (You'll see another version of this scene if you scroll down just a few entries.)

Saturday, October 30, 2010


What picture comes to mind when you think of the word cozy? 

One year I waited on the deck while my husband and son carried the oddest anniversary present I could have ever imagined... a chiminea!  I'm sure my mouth gaped as I pasted on a smile.  But, sometimes the very best gifts are the unexpected ones that you never even knew you wanted.

I love my chiminea.  I've seen them as decoration on porches, but mine is more than a decoration.  We actually use it.  On fall evenings when there's a chill in the wind, sitting right in front of a roaring chiminea fire is the perfect place to be... cozy...

What an honor to be featured in Etsy treasuries (collection of art pieces and vintage items)!  Click on two to celebrate staying warm when it's cold.  Click It's Cold Outside... So Warm Up! and  It Warms You in the Coolness to enjoy the treasuries. And, one other collection celebrates all that a weekend morning has to offer, Lazy Weekend Morning. Finally, click on Match Game for a little matching fun.

Original oil painting on 9x12 Canvas Board

Saturday, October 23, 2010


What color is autumn?

Maybe gold, red, yellow... I think it must be orange.  Besides the leaves, there are mums,  pumpkins... and Halloween!

Although I embrace chilly mornings and longer evenings, I still need little flashes of sunshine or reminders of warmth like a sunflower can give.

Send a little spark of sun with "Sunflower Note Cards."

These cards were featured in an Etsy treasury (collection or art pieces and vintage items) celebrating sunflowers.  Visit  "Simply Sunflowers" to enjoy the treasury.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Colorado Memories

When a family member asks, "Remember when..." where does your mind go?

These are the words of a friend who asked me to paint this 'memory' for her.
     "Our trip to the campground was the same every year.  We would go up the windy switchback mountain road with my grandpa driving.  We would all be nervous because he would be busy looking to see if the reservoir was up or down (he was a farmer that used that water) while driving.   We would pull into the campground, put the watermelon in the stream to cool, and eat our KFC (Grandpa’s favorite).  We would then go to the meadow for a game of wiffle ball.  We used  dried cow patties for bases. Grandpa always pitched and Grandma always kept score for the game that always ended in a tie.  After the game we would eat our watermelon.  Some would hike, some would throw rocks in the creek, and others would sit and visit at the picnic tables.  Before dark we would head back down the mountain…still nervous about Grandpa watching the road."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Purple Hyacinth

Why do roses get all the credit?

Mmmmm..... What a lovely fragrance the hyacinth has!  This one was a gift from a student.  After I enjoyed it inside for a while, I divided it and planted it in my front flower bed. 
Now, don't misunderstand... I love flowers, but I'm a vegetable gardener at heart.  My poor flower bed... I wish I'd give it attention, but I rarely do.  That's why I like hardy bulb plants that I don't think will need me.  Somehow I'm always amazed each spring when, indeed, those determined flowers return and do their best to make my flower bed beautiful.
These little hyacinths have done just that. ....Mmmmm... I can almost smell them now even though they're months away.

Two Etsy treasuries called Spring is in the Air and  Spring Flower Inspired Color Palette celebrate all the colors of the season. Or have a look at another treasury called Nowrouz Moubarak  to learn a little about the Persian New Year through its symbols.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cottage in Fall Forest

What would you do if you could spend a week in this cottage?

It's imaginary, and I painted it so I get to decide what you see and don't see.  I say there are no nearby cell phone towers.  There is no internet, no cable, and no highway just beyond the trees.  There are no magazines, newspaper deliveries, or bills to be paid. There is a crackling fire and a stack of split logs just outside a back door.  There is a cozy chair a soft blanket beside a shelf filled with books.  There's an easel with a blank canvas, brushes, and tubes of paint.  There is some cookie dough in the refrigerator.  There is a yellow cat curled up on the pages of an open book.  

Ahhh.... If only....

And, ok, let's be honest.. the Blackberry still works...

I entered this piced in a challenge that encouraged artists to think about "Color" and what colors represent in different contexts.  Visit "In the Moment" to see the other "color" pieces.

This painting was featured in an Etsy treasury (collection of art and vintage items) celebrating autumn.  Click "Fabulously Fall" to enjoy it.

It was also chosen to be in a group of pumpkin paintings in a lovely blog called SixThirtyThree.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pickin' Punkins

How do you know which pumpkin is the perfect pumpkin?

I think this little one would say it's the biggest one she can pick up and carry!  

And, how do you know which pumpkin is perfect to carve into a jack-o-lantern? 

I don't think this little one would care just as long as you didn't pick her perfect pumpkin!


Friday, October 8, 2010

Autumn Leaves

What's the best thing about autumn?

Is it the smell of the first smoke from fireplaces, the crispness of the morning air, the kickoffs of a new football season, the spices like sage that we seem to save for this time of year, snuggling under a favorite blanket?   Or, is it simply the changing leaves?

 This little painting was done as a challenge for Rookie Painter.  I love the concept of this site - an image is presented then artists are invited to create and share art inspired by that image. It's so interesting to see the diversity in style.  

When I decided to paint this one, I knew I wanted a long canvas, but I didn't have one; there wasn't one on the shelf in the art store either.  So, I decided to try painting on an artist's panel. Very different, odd not the have the give or springiness of canvas.  I haven't yet decided whether I will use it on a regular basis.  In some ways I did like it, but in others I'm undecided.  Anyone else have opinions? 

An Etsy treasury (collection or art pieces and vintage items) celebrating a year of seasons includes "Autumn Leaves."  Click on Catch a Falling,  Fall Leaves...Fall Foliage Fallen Leaves,  Atutum: The Most Wonderful  Time of the Year or The Colors of Autumn to put you in the mood for fall.


Friday, October 1, 2010

Feed the Ducks

Why is it that the simplest things in life often bring the greatest joy?

The thing I love most about this painting is the joy in the grandmother's (actually she's a "Memaw".) face.  I don't think it's the ducks that are making her laugh.  I think it's the simple happiness of sharing the moment with the little one beside her.

To purchase a giclee of this painting, click "Feed the Ducks."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Autumn Trees

Where do we begin to find out who we are?

Well, this painting was that beginning for me.  This was the second painting I ever attempted; that was way back in February of 2007.  After my first painting, "Summer Trees," I decided to give the same image another go.  I remember thinking, "Now, I've already done this, so I'm ready to put my own spin on it.  Hmmm... what exactly is my spin?"  As I wondered what kind of painter I'd become, I thought maybe I'd be an impressionist.  I'd always loved Monet's work, so I'd kind of blur the lines.  Then I thought about Van Gogh; I'd imitate him and let my strokes tell the story.  Then... I put thick orange and red blobs on top of brown bases, surrounded them with gold and green flame-like vertical strokes and realized that I was just plain Helen doing my best to make colors and shapes appear to be something recognizable.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Stream in Autumn

What's just around the bend in the stream?

Maybe that's why I'm drawn to paintings of streams, rivers, roads, paths, and trails.   I think that the real story is just out of sight.

This painting draws me in both through its subject and through its texture.  I like to touch this one - run my fingertips across it.  I used more paint than I usually do, and I like the actual feel of the rocks, the water, and the trees.  I even like the swirls in the brush strokes of the sky.

Original Oil Painting on 11" x 14" Wrapped Canvas

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunrise Silhouette

What is it about a sunrise that makes it so breathtaking to anyone who's lucky enough to see it?

Tranquility... peace... I took this picture as the sun came up behind the Ouachita Mountains and kissed the water of Lake Ouachita with the most lovely glow. I stood on the front porch of our cabin and felt blessed to see the blessing of a new day beginning.

Ok, if I'm completely honest, there's also a boat dock blocking part of this perfect view. But isn't that why we keep a current artistic license? I used mine to leave that part out of the painting.

Although I loved the photograph, I never thought I could paint it because the trees and grass and hillside were just too dark - no details showed. But then, the challenge for Artistic Sentiment was to paint a landscape in silhouette. It gave me the idea for the possibility of turning it into a painting. The vision for the finished piece came on strong. Once I began I didn't stop until I signed my name.

This painting was including in an Etsy treasury (collection of art and vintage items) filled with warm, rich colors called Art That Will Make You Smile.  

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Aspens in Autumn

What makes autumn so special?

I think that maybe autumn is the season that becomes more loved as we age. I do not remember caring a bit about autumn when I was a kid... yeah, yeah, the leaves changed colors, the fair came to town, football games would be every Friday night...

Oh, but now... How thankful I am that I live in a place where autumn is so beautiful that it makes me slow down and sigh! The air has a crisp feeling. There's a smell of change - smoky, musky freshness. There's a crunching in the background all the time as squirrels and rabbits scamper through leaves - no more sneaking around.

The other night my husband and I sat on our porch rocking back and forth enjoying autumn in our own little mini-forest when something occurred to me... Way back a quarter of a century ago, didn't we dream of sitting on a front porch and leisurely rocking the evenings away? It's a sweet thing to realize when a dream actually comes true.

Original Oil Painting on 24"x 36" Wrapped Canvas
Currently not listed for Sale... I like it on my own wall too much. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diana Butterfly on Thistle

What makes this thistle special?

I don't know if this lovely little butterfly knows how special the place where she's chosen to land is. This thistle grows in a virgin prairie - land that has never been tilled or plowed... never. The plot of land belongs to my sister-in-law's family and is somewhat of a national treasury insuring that it will remain protected. So, this butterfly (a Diana female) and her children for generations should be able to return to this exact spot to land on thistles.