Sunday, December 28, 2014

! ! ! Giveaway ! ! ! #1

I haven't been painting at all during this Christmas break. Why?  

  • Well, first because my kids were home, and we just did a lot of sitting beside the fireplace and poking the logs. 
  • And, second because I've been glued to my computer reading my new favorite blog... reading every entry from the beginning.  It's called A Joyful Chaos, and it's an absolute delight!  
    • I feel like I'm getting to know a new friend and catching up on her whole life...
    • It's like reading an Amish version of Laura Ingalls' Little House series... 
    • It makes me think about my own shelf of journals and all the little snips of life I've recorded over the years.
    • It reminds me of the truth... "everyone has a story to tell..."

Anyway, I've decided to borrow an idea from her and have a giveaway.

I have these cute little note cards made to give as a thank you gifts to send with any painting that is purchased.  I sometimes have extras made.  
Would you like to have a few?

For your chance to win all you have to do is leave a comment describing a favorite painting, print, photo, or poster you have on a wall in your home or in your memory.

Sharing this post on your Facebook or blog then letting me know you did will earn you a second entry. :)

I will be choosing the winner on Saturday, January 3. 
I look forward to your comments.  (Maybe I'll get some new ideas for what to paint next!!) 

**I picked these cards for this giveaway because A Joyful Chaos makes me think of simple pleasures... a  beloved Raggedy Ann doll... a stack of journals filled with memories... an old barn in winter... :)

Sunday, December 21, 2014


Would you paint a brown and white boy cow for me?
Would you paint our Hereford show bull, Tank?
I recently discovered that these two questions are NOT the same.

Say hello to Tank!

Isn't he gorgeous!

So, here's how I learned this lesson.

My friend, Sarah, teaches 4th grade down the hall, and she's a city girl.  
My friend, Charla, teaches ESL down the other hall, and she's a farm girl. 

A few weeks ago, Sarah asked, "Hey, would you paint a brown boy cow for me?  I want to give it to my dad for Christmas."  
She found a reference photo, and I whipped it out.  It was fun and easy.  When I brought it to school to give it to her, I showed it to Charla.

That's when I got the other question.  Charla knows cows; she and her husband have a farm, and cattle are a big part of their lives.  She asked if I'd paint one of their bulls to give her husband for their anniversary.  She told me all about their bull, Tank... He came from Denver... he used to have a nose ring... he's gentle... 
She planned to go home and take some pictures that night when they went out to feed.

Now meet... Not-Tank.
I had the best time painting him.
It was pretty simple and didn't take long.

Oh, sigh... 
He was a great cow... but he wasn't Tank..
His eyes were too big...
His fur was too smooth...
His face was too skinny...
His nose was too long...
His ear was to pointy...
His chest was too wide...

It's not nearly as fun to edit and revise, but in the end it's worth it.
I love the finished Tank!


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Big Papa

Why do cows all face in the same direction when they're grazing?

It's so weird, but they do.  We always comment on it, so I Googled it... Oh, my goodness... there are all sorts of theories about it... and all kinds of scientific research going on around it....  Really?  It's that important to know?

Anyway, this guy looks like he might be wondering why he has to face the same direction as all the others... maybe he's about to buck the system face a different way!


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Water Lily

What can you teach us about your painting style?

I follow a challenge blog called Paint and Draw Together. Each month she posts a new reference photo and invites artists to... well... paint and draw together... and occasionally I participate in her challenges.  I love seeing the varied artists' styles.  Every painting exactly the same... yet every painting is completely different.

This month marked the 50th challenge. (Congratulations to Lela and to every artist who's contributed!) She asked artists to not only submit the image of their final product, but to share photos taken throughout the process.  I loved the image, and I love sharing about the process of painting that I find so fascinating.  So, of course, I chose to participate!  

Picture 1

After drawing in the main lines, (as I've gladly admitted before, yes, I cheat with a sheet of carbon paper) I blocked in the main colors

Picture 2

Next I tried to add a little life to the big flat surfaces of color.  Some yellows and purples livened up the leaves. I added all kinds of streaks paint from colors left over on my palette to the vines... hoping they'd start looking right... they didn't.

Picture 3

After the bold background colors dried a day or two, it was time to block in the flower.  I planned to use alizarin red and white, but I used diaxozine purple for the shaded areas.  It seems to work best for me if get those areas in first and darker than I know they should be.  

Picture 4
* Blend with new white... the petals look like mud...
* Add the middle... the yellows and oranges smear...
* Experiment again with those vines... what a mess...
* Try to make the spots look intentional instead of like I dropped dark paint blobs on the leaves...add some yellowish greens and purple-greens around the leaf holes.... hmmm...

And this is the point where it happens... It always happens... It's the ugly stage... I wonder if I should give up, if I have the right to call myself an artist, if this one just isn't meant to be...

Then with fresh eyes and one more try, it comes together.  Although it's happened dozens and dozens of times, I'm always surprised... and I smile then sign my name in the bottom corner.

 Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

:) ZipLineArt

Something exciting for WordWeaverArt today...

Go visit ZiplineArt !  It's a wonderful brand new site.  Go have a look!  While you're looking around there, click on "Artists" and guess whose name you'll see?  Yep!  Right there on top, "Artist Helen Eaton." Now that's just exciting on many levels!

I am so proud for the owner of ZiplineArt.  I'm honored that he wanted to use three of my images to begin his art selling venture.

The thing that stops and humbles me is to see my name right there listed as "Artist Helen Eaton."  You see, I never thought of myself as  artistic or artistically talented; I simply took lessons and learned skills. My painting improved with practice. I feel like I use the math/logic side of my brain rather then the artistic side, so I was careful for so many years to say, "I do oil painting," or "I'm a painter."  That may not make sense to anyone else, but it's kind of emotional for me to see that word "Artist" beside my name... I like it... and I need to own it... I AM an artist... no matter which side of the brain gets the workout...

:)Thanks ZiplineArt!

Click Kalaloch if you're interested in purchasing this painting or prints of it.

See the original post at "Kalaloch."
To purchase prints or the original of this painting, click Raggedy Ann. 

See the original post at "Raggedy Ann."
And clicking Canoe in the Smokies  here will take you to the site where prints or the original of this painting are available.

See the original post at "Canoe in the Smokies"

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Three Silly Goats Gruff II

Did you miss them?  

They're BAAAAAaaaaack!

I loved the short time that Gladys, Gabby, and Percy hung on my wall the first time!  What a treat to have them back for a while!

My relationship with these guys began the first time I saw their photograph on a blog that I follow.

I had the best time painting them.  They practically talked to me while I was working on them.  Then they just made me laugh when they hung on my wall.  But, alas... someone bought them... 

Imagine my delight when I received this e-mail:

     Hi! My name is Rebekah and my mom is Renee from the blog Southern Gal. My family (my husband and two little girls) are in the middle of a huge transition. It is our dream to have a little homestead of our own, but for right now that dream has to be put on hold. The three goats you painted so beautifully are mine, Gabby, Gladys, and Percy. Tomorrow Percy leaves us as we prepare for a temporary move into town. His "girls" will follow soon. I am quite emotional over this, not just because animals have a way of ripping your heart apart, but because of how him leaving causes the lifestyle change we are about to make to hit home. Over the next few years, David and I are planning to be very frugal  and saving money to buy land so we can build our own little homestead. But right now we have to leave behind our goats, chickens, bees, and garden.
To get to the point, I want more than anything else I am planning for my new home to hang this painting of our three goats in a special place. I just feel like it would help us remember this sweet time with our very first farm animals and motivate us to realize our dream. I know the painting sold, but could you paint the goats again? You did an amazing job. We would cherish it forever. 

Now, what could I say? YES!
I hope Rebekah and her family have a big smile when they see "Three Silly Goats Gruff II" in person.

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 16" Wrapped Canvas

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Black Swallowtail on Pink Flower

How long did that take?

I get this question a lot, and I've gotten it a lot with this painting especially.  Maybe that's because it's over-sized. (16"x 20")
I don't really count up the hours; it might be depressing to realize how much/little I charge per hour. :)

Let me think through the stages.

  • See a friend's photograph on Facebook and get permission to use it.
  • Choose a canvas size and draw it up. (I am NOT a draw-er and totally admit to cheating on this step.  I put the canvas on my whiteboard at school and show the image from my computer to draw in the main lines.)
  • 1st sitting - Paint in the dark spaces of the background then add the green shapes on top of that. Block in the black and pink areas.  (They basically look like blobs.)
  • 2nd sitting - Try to make the greens look like blades of grass and leaves. Add dark greens, light greens.  Make long graceful strokes.  Blend.  Fail miserably... Looks like a mess... Wonder if I've forgotten how to paint... Remind myself that every painting -not unlike every child- goes through an ugly stage. Give up.
  • 3rd sitting - Work on the butterfly.  Add buff to the black to create light, blue and orange to create life and reflection.  Layer on the yellows and oranges. It's a good start. Work on individual petals of the flower... without success.
  • 4th sitting - Determine to make the grass and leaves pop.  Get brave with more greens, use a bigger brush, blur the hard lines between the background and the main character of the painting. Touch up the butterfly. Give it some legs and antenna. Try again on the flower petals and flower center.  Lay in the yellow (same cad yellow from the butterfly) center.
  • 5th sitting - Background... looks good.  Butterfly... looks good. Flower... looks good. Painting... doesn't work... sigh... stand back... sigh... squint... deep breath.. okay... It looks like someone did a great background, cut out a great flower and butterfly then glued them onto the background.  There's no sense of harmony.  Sit down and get brave again.  Add black (which I rarely use straight) from the butterfly into the dark areas of the background.  Add red (alizarin) from the flower liberally into the darker edges of the leaves and grass blades and into the background.  Add green (from the grass) into the flower petals... which by the way was a disaster... Paint over the flower with straight alizarin and white covering the rose color completely... Almost there... but... remember purple! Purple is the most amazing superhero! How did I forget!  Add purple touches to the butterfly wings.  Add purple to the shaded parts of the flower.  Add purple to the shaded parts of the background. Sign my name in the bottom corner.
How long did that take you to paint that painting?  Probably around 10 hours. I'm faster than I used to be. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fork in the Path

When there's a fork in the road, which one do you take?

Maybe Robert Frost's poem comes to your mind:
     "Two roads diverged in yellow wood..."
That's kind of perfect for this painting.

But, I keep thinking of another poem by Sam Walter Foss.
     "One day, through the primeval wood.
     A calf walked home, as good calves should;
     But made a trail all bent askew,
      A crooked trail, as all calves do.
It goes on to say that other animals then humans and finally a busy road followed that calf's crooked path instead of making their own straight paths.  I actually read part of that poem in my high school graduation speech way back in 1982.
If you follow this driveway and turn at the first fork, you'll end up at my house.  As soon as those autumn leaves fall, you'll be able to see it.  If you don't take that fork, you'll go around the pond and end up at our neighbor's house.  Watch out for our deer!

Original Oil Painting on 12"16" Wrapped Canvas

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Salsa Grande

Some time in the middle of July when the garden is at it's peak, I take this the recipe card out of my little recipe book. This is what it says:
  10  Quarts of Tomatoes
  6    Large Onions
  3    Quarts of Bell Peppers
  1    Quart of Jalapenos
  1/2  Cup of Granulated Garlic
  1/2  Cup of Salt

But this is what actually happens:
    I get the biggest pot that I have and the stand at the sink with my little knife.  I cut all the cores and any bad places off tomato after tomato and toss them into the blender.  The blender holds about quart so I do that a bunch of times... until the sink full of tomatoes is empty.  Then I decide that must be about 10 quarts

    I actually use a measuring cup for the salt and the garlic... at least to begin with.  A half a cup of salt seems like a lot.  Garlic is something I never use any other time of the year, so I'm a little scared of it.                                            Then it's time for the cutting board and the big knife. 
     Next, the bell peppers.  Besides in salsa, I hate bell peppers.  No... really, I hate bell peppers. I don't understand how anyone can think they are a food product... blech... But, they have to be there for good salsa, so I grow them in my garden.  This one time of the year, I cut out the cores, pull out the seeds, and slice up the bell peppers.  I chop a big bowl full to add to the pot.  
  Then it's time for the onions.  I like to use the whte ones because they have so much flavor and the purple ones because they're pretty.  This used to be a time for tears, but not any more.  Here's my trick!  I wear my motorcycle sunglasses!  They're made to keep all air out, and they also keep out onion air!  No more tears... and you look cool while you're chopping.  I plop them in, then stop before 6 because it always seems like maybe that's too many.     

     Finally the hot part, the jalapenos!  My jalapeno plants are always prolific for me. I try to remember to wear a rubber glove, I've learned the importance of this lesson more than once.    (I only had to learn the lesson about not leaving the seeds in one time.) Chop... plop... chop... plop...
     I love stirring it at this point.  It's frothy and chunky.  There's a lot, so I have to use the really big wooden spoon.
     Time to open the Tostitos and have a taste.
     Whoa!  It has a kick!  I remember (once again) that the fresh jalapenos are so much hotter and that I shouldn't have used a whole quart.
     And (once again... seriously... every year) I get my other big pot and divide it so that I have more room.  I add another 7-9 tomatoes and another bell pepper.stir... taste... taste again... Whew!  I make another blender full of tomatoes, another half an onion... taste... taste again... and again... a little salt... again... again... spoonful of garlic... taste again... again... again... again... again...
     Ready for the freezer bags!

For now... I think this one is not for sale.  I think it has a home in my home.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Oklahoma Farmstead

What happened here?
  • Maybe a momma cat named Daisy gave birth to three yellow kittens under that front porch...
  • Maybe a young dad planted that tree for his newborn daughter...
  • Maybe a 10-year old boy who knew better than to climb up the windmill fell and broke his left arm...
  • Maybe the there's a cellar in the back yard where shelves were lined with jars of pickles, beans, and tomato juice and where the anxious family waited out tornado season weather...
  • Maybe there was a huge garden in the field where tassels waved from the rows of corn and sunflowers grew on the far edge just because the momma thought they were pretty...
  • Maybe a big Sears catalog was delivered to that mailbox every year, then everybody took turns leafing through its pages...
  • Maybe Rex, the most loyal family dog ever, was buried under that second little tree in the side yard...
  • Maybe peas were shelled and beans were snapped under that awning on the back side...
  • Maybe sheets were sometimes hung out to dry on the bars of the windmill...
  • Maybe there was a disagreement after the hailstorm on whether the new roof should be green or brown...
  • Maybe there was a long table inside where the best roast beef, potatoes, and carrots were served to family and friends every Sunday after church...
  • Maybe a couple waved good bye as their last child drove away to college then held hands and gave thanks for a good life...
Farm life happened here...

Thank you to Cheri Wollenberg for taking the reference photograph.  
The farmstead house stands close to Pocasset, Oklahoma.  
I painted this for her Month #1 Challenge on Pinterest.

Click "Oklahoma Farmstead" to purchase this painting..

Monday, September 1, 2014

Acorns & Autumn Leaf

How long has it been?

It's been over a month since I've painted.  August is just hard for a teacher.  Taking that last family reunion trip, getting the classroom ready, all the before-school inservice meetings, parent night, beginning-of-the-year paperwork, getting to know new kids, and sound sleep to get ready to go again.

I've been aching to paint, but every minute in August, seems to be claimed for some other purpose.
I do have one really big project that I've worked on here and there, but I really wanted to paint something that I could finish. This little still life was just right.

Our house is surrounded by trees that put on a fabulous show in Autumn.  Last year, I picked up a variety of leaves and nuts and laid them out to snap some photos.  The were so beautiful, that they honestly looked fake... All of these came from my yard.   
Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Stargazer Lily

What is the most beautiful flower? 

The answer is simple... the one that's blooming in your own flowerbed or garden right now.

I love the flowers that bloom in my flower bed, but I do not love the work it takes to keep them happy and healthy and gorgeous.  I wish it did, but I just don't.  So... I tend to go for flowers that aren't needy.  The stargazer lilies put on the best show a few weeks ago.  Every time  got home, I'd go snap a picture thinking surely that day they were the most beautiful ever.

This week, I'm snapping pictures in my vegetable garden thinking each day that this may be the most beautiful ever.

Look at the fantastic dewdrops on this tomato!
And, how about the height of these amazing sunflowers!

Click Stargazer Lily to purchase this little painting.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Yellow Bowl of Tomatoes (Dark Background)

Where does your eye go first?

I've read that where the darkest dark meets the lightest light is the first point of focus in a painting.  After that the eye should travel around the canvas then back to that place where the darkest dark meets the lightest light.  (I just kind of like saying that... the darkest dark meets the lightest light...)

If you first looked at the highlighted side of the bowl, then up to the big tomatoes, over to the leaves, around to the little tomatoes, and back to the place where (I'm going to say it one more time) the darkest dark meets the lightest light, then I think I succeeded.

This image was once a challenge piece for Paint and Draw Together.  There's so much that I love about it, that I've used it as a reference three times.

Click Bowl of Tomatoes to read my thoughts on the first one.
Click Yellow Bowl of Tomatoes to read my thoughts on the second one.

Click Yellow Bowl of Tomatoes (Dark Background) if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Caribbean Sunset

What words come to mind?
If it's the emotion words of feelings that you think of first, then I think I feel successful with this painting.

If it's the objects... water, sun, clouds, leaves, sand... then maybe I better go back and work on it a little more.

I did this piece to submit to the artist challenge at Paint and Draw Together. Go have a look.  It's fun to see the diversity of artist styles. Every piece is exactly alike... and completely different...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

:) My Art Space

I recently discovered an amazing artist named Lisa of Lachri Fine Art. I have learned so much by watching her videos and have been mesmerized by watching her work.
Last week she put out a call for her viewers to show their art spaces.  I LOVE my little art space, so... I did it!  I sent in a photo of my space.

Let me give you a little tour... from left to right... here we go...
  • The Medusa (snatched from my son's room when he left for college) lamp lets me put light where I need it.
  • Taped to its stand is whatever I’ve drawn up and am working on.
  • The brown drawers hold my paints (I have a lot...  I get a kick out of finding them in lots at estate sales or on ebay...)   
    • Top drawer – neutrals, blacks, whites, grays, metallics,
    •  Next one down, earth tones, 
    • On down – blues & purples,
    •  And down – greens, 
    • Down – yellows, 
    • And – Reds,
    • Bottom two – tools like pliers, scissors, etc. and wipe clothes
  • Under those brown drawers are some old newspapers.
  • On top of those brown drawers are other essentials
    • Wet wipes,
    • A pack of gum,
    • The dinosaur headed cat squirter... ‘cause sometimes the cat just needs a reminder,
    • And my Atelier sign.
  • Behind the white drawers are some large canvases waiting their turn.
  • On the wall is the bag I bought at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and a few paintings waiting until some one claims them for a permanent home.
  • The white drawers
    • Top drawer – small brushes, 
    • Next drawer – large brushes, 
    • On down – Liquin, mineral spirits, etc.
    • And the bottom, scraps of cloth and old socks.
  • A trash can
  • There’s a foot stool you can’t see, but it makes sitting comfortable for a short person like me!
  • The easel shows what I’m working on now.
  • My computer has its share of paint splatters... all... over... it... but shows me my reference photo and plays my favorite country music on Pandora.
  • My purple chair which is brand new, and it's changed my life! It swivels, and raises, and lowers, and turns, and rolls!  Love it!
  • And finally comes my tv tray where I put my paint palettes.
  • Last, but not least, my Sonic coke... essential...
I love my little space...

My Atelier - noun. \a-təl-ˈyā\  [from Old French] 1. an artist’s workshop 2. an art studio 3. a space for creativity to flourish

 By the way...
The way I got my husband to remember how to pronounce Atelier... I use my best Redneck Southern accent and say “I tell ya’!” and it comes out pretty close to the French pronunciation. (Although don’t tell anyone who’s actually French.  They might not agree.)

Thanks again to Lisa from for giving me the idea to take a good look at my space.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cottage by the Sea II

Are you there, Miss Rumphius?

Do you know her?  She a character in a children's book who goes around planting flowers and making the world more beautiful.  I remember that this story was in a basal reading book that I used to use in my classroom years ago; I hadn't thought of that story in ages. It wasn't my intent to recreate her setting. But, after this painting was finished, I thought of Miss Rumphius; I'm sure she'd approve.  
There's one other reason this painting might look familiar... I've painted it before.  Yes, there's another Cottage by the Sea out there somewhere.  It hung on the wall in my bedroom for a long time because I loved it.  The day it sold was a happy/sad day.   I got an identical giclee to put in it's place.  Eventually that sold too.  Nothing has looked just right in that spot on the wall since.
So... yeah... I just painted it again.  I like this one even better. It makes me happy. I can think of so many stories that might take place in this setting...

This painting was fortunate to be included in a lovely Etsy treasury (collection of related vintage items and art pieces) called Stages of Thought.  Click and have a look.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 20" Wrapped Canvas
You can click "Cottage by the Sea II" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

"Cottage by the Sea" 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, July 5, 2014

Happy Calf

What do cows think about?

They don't seem to think about anything... But this little guy looks like he's grinning about something.

Original Oil Painting on 10"x 10" Wrapped Canvas

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ruby Throated Hummingbird

What's the best color combination?

For me it's always going to be green and purple.
Any day that I get to paint with green and purple is a good day.

Today I got to paint this little guy twice.
This square one is for my daughter... she's learning to fly a helicopter and is working on the skill of hovering... just like a little hummingbird.

Here are some other paintings that made for good days.  :)

Original Oil Painting on 5"x 7" Wrapped Canvas