Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Why do the males get to be the pretty ones?

Oh, I know the scientific reasons... the male needs to impress the female, the female needs to blend in  with the nest.  Poor little plain mama birds...
I admit that I forgot that rule when I was painting this.  I made a huge mistake.  I took three reference photos of beautiful pheasants and backgrounds.  I mixed them up and came up with what I thought was a gorgeous autumn scene with a pair of pheasants.  Well, that's what I had alright, only both of my pheasants were male!  Noooo!!!! Ugh!! Yeah! Oh sigh...  Well, the great thing about oil paint is that it's never too late to change, add, and fix anything that's not right.  Thus began the transformation of the bird in flight... green head covered with brown,goldish yellow added to body, tail shortened by more tree and grass... soon... voila!... a female pheasant in flight!

If you'd like to purchase note cards of these birds, click "Pheasant Note Cards."

Friday, September 23, 2011


What do you know about limes?

I can honestly say, I don't think I ever even tasted a lime until a few years ago.  I knew they were a green citrus fruit.  I knew from high school history class that sailors used to eat limes to keep from getting scurvy. And, I knew that Sonic made a great limeade.  
So, how did I go 40+ years without the flavor of lime!
I happen to believe that I make the best nachos... in the world... (Maybe that's because I make the best salsa.  Of course, I'm glad to share.  Just click  Salsa Recipe.)  But recently, the best just got better when I discovered limes!  Hold that perfect chip with cheese, meat, onion, tomato, and salsa in one hand, and hold a half lime above it.  One little squeeze... hmmm... Perfect-er!!


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pink Lilies

What flower makes you smile?

I love every lilies - tiger lilies, day lilies, Easter lilies, calla lilies, spider lilies, and of course, stargazer lilies.  They even smell good - an extra bonus!

If you'd like to purchase note cards with these lovelies click Pink Lilies to link directly to the Etsy listing.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

I Am the Legacy!

Is a picture really worth a thousand words?

          I think this one is.  Just look at all this one says!
         A precious little girl is filled with joy, hope, and eagerness for things to come.  She's opened up and ready for whatever life has to offer.  Her shirt even has the words to tell the world that she's coming and she's got high expectations for the future.  And, could this be any more perfect... she's standing on what we in Arkansas consider hallowed grounds - the front lawn of Old Main, the building that represents learning, higher education, and the University of Arkansas.  The sun seems to be shining on her face as if  the University is saying, "Welcome!  We'll be ready for you when you get here!"
        So...Could the story get any better?  Yes!  The grandmother of this little one is the college professor who teaches young people  preparing to be teachers.... Perfect!

OK... maybe that wasn't a thousand words, but the image does say a lot!

Lesson learned through the process of painting this: 
          As I was finishing the painting, I was frustrated because it didn't tell the right story - I had a painting of a famous building with a little girl in front of it, not a little girl with a famous building behind her. 
         I called my painting mentor and explained my problem.  "Mix some ultramarine blue and a little white with a medium.  Cover the background with the wash."
          Wow!  it worked!  The building got back in its place in the background, and the little girl came forward to her spot as the star of this show!  
          How many more tricks are out there waiting for me to learn!?!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Key West Rooster

Have you ever been to Key West?

There are roosters just walking around.  They don't seem to belong to anyone, but no one seems to mind that they're there.

I painted this fella back when I was just beginning.  I think I just tried too hard to make him just right - perfect coloring, perfect feathers in place, perfect grass, perfect barn side behind... In truth... he was a scraggly guy scratching in the dirt beside a cinder block building...  
Now that I've kind of figured out who I am as a painter, I think I'd like the painting better if it told the truth!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Red Mushroom

What is the difference between a toadstool and a mushroom?

Maybe they're the same thing.  And, I doubt a toad ever really sits on one anyway.
There had been a lot of rain - actually a flood - during the season before our stay at Lake Ouachita. The ground was damp, and the air was muggy. But we made a fun discovery caused by these conditions. There were mushrooms everywhere in the woods by the lake. This one was one of my favorites. It looks like something has taken a bite out of it. At first I thought I'd paint it perfectly round, but I liked the missing chunk too much to leave it out... or I guess I should say... to put it back.

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Wrapped Canvas

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mr. & Mrs. Mallard

What was your first word?

For most babies it's "mama" and "dada."  For my daughter it was "quack!"  Who knows why!  She had a little yellow rubber duckie.  One day she held it and said a very deliberate "Quaaaaack!"  Then she never stopped talking.

My favorite part of this painting is the water.  I love the colors and the the movement.  My least favorite part is that the female seems to be standing on top of the water.  I wish I could get this painting back for a few minutes.  I'd fix that!  

I wonder if this pair has 8 little ducklings following along behind that just didn't make it onto the canvas.
Take the time to read Make Way for Ducklings!  What a great kids' book!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Apple Harvest

How important is the background?
     I think someone smarter or more artistic than me could answer this question with eloquence that would make perfect sense.  There would be words like harmony, value, contrast, and lost edges.
     I just know that I almost always make my backgrounds "too beautiful' to start with.   I used to take my what-I-thought-were-finished paintings to class, and my teacher would say, "The background is too beautiful."  It would make me sad because I'd love the background.  But, I'd  dutifully trust her and fuzz out, tone down, or blur the background.  Then immediately the focus or the important part would pop out, move forward, and take the center stage.
     This painting was an example of that.  I painted it as a challenge piece for Studio Atelier.  Other artists had submitted lovely versions of this image, but I just couldn't submit mine.  I loved the apples, the leaves, the reflection.  I couldn't figure out why I wasn't satisfied.  Something was not right.  When I showed my teacher, she said, "The background is too beautiful."  I took an orange wash, covered the lovely blue background, and... wow!  The apples popped into the forefront where they belonged.
Such a small trick.  Such a big difference.


Click Apple Note Cards to be taken to the Etsy listing where these can be purchased.