Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Arsaga's - Our First Date

If you aren't from Northwest Arkansas, this just looks like an old building.  
If you are from Northwest Arkansas, you know that this is a familiar, much-loved, Fayetteville-esque spot just off The Square.

When Sonya asked me to paint it for her, she said, "Mike and I had our first date in 1994 at the original Arsaga's on Block Street."  Awwwww... I love a good romantic story! Of course I said YES... 

As I so often do when I love the story and say yes, I realized as I got started that I might have gotten myself in over my head with this project.
There wasn't a reference photo... But there were about 6 old photos that I was just sure I could piece together to recreate what she remembered.   Funny how confident I am before I begin a project! HA!  And, in the end, yes, it did come together pretty well.

I don't know the whole story, but I do know there there's something important about the fact that the knobs on the two middle doors are on the outside of each door because they lead to the two separate businesses.  I'm imagining a nervous couple on their first date each going into a door and ending up in different places! 

Arsaga's moved to another location years ago. Although I'm not a coffee drinker, I know it's the best coffee stop in town for many.
Swift's has been the place for custom jewelry or jewelry repair for more than 60 years.
Hugo's... How can I explain how good their hamburgers are? I'm so sad for you if you've never eaten one. Let me take you there.  If you are walking from Swift's you go down the stairs beside the red wagon-wheel rail and into the basement.  You'll see a long room with a bar on one side and red & white checked tables filling the rest of the space.  It will be dark-ish, but you can see all the pipes on the ceiling and old photos on the walls.  I guess there are things besides hamburgers that you can order, but no one does. They make the best, Best, BEST hamburgers... I'd say in the whole world. 

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 20"

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Red Barn & Red Tulips

A happy old red barn...
I guess I love painting barns because I have barn memories... barn stories.
This is the 18th barn I've painted.  Really? Yep! I counted.  And 13 of those were red. 

This was the last painting of our weekend of painting at Welcome Home Retreat. You'd think this one would have come easily for me, but it was definitely the one that frustrated me the most.  I couldn't get the tree right... couldn't get the shading right... couldn't get the road... couldn't get the colors right... 
In the end, I kind of when rogue and quietly did what felt comfortable... put red paint on the barn, painted grass over the road, ignored the tree, added some tulips for balance, then smiled and signed it.  

What a wonderful, wonderful weekend!  What a perfect way to celebrate 10 years of painting!   
I love that we'll be doing it again in June. Cheri tells me that next time we'll be painting a long horn cow on a big canvas, a landscape on a medium canvas, and a rose on a small canvas. Can't wait!

Original Oil Painting on 8"x 10" Wrapped Canvas.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Tree - 10 Years in the Making

February 22, 2007
I walked in to my first painting lesson, and I was nervous.

The idea of oil painting was completely foreign to me, but it was a time when I needed something new.  My youngest had gotten his drivers license, so my days of chauffeuring had ended.  I'd taken some steps back from the National Writing Project, so I was missing having that creative outlet. Then this opportunity came along.  There was an announcement one Sunday morning that a lady in our church, Cheri, was offering a 6 week painting course.  I remember whispering to Ron, "I'd love to try something like that one day when I have time."  He looked at me and said, "You have time now." 
So... I bought the 5 tubes of paint, the 9"x 12" canvas board, the easel, and whatever else was on the list. I gathered my supplies (and my courage) and went to my first painting class.  
I sat on the front row in the middle.  I so wanted to be successful, but I had very little confidence in my artistic abilities.
I listened.
Cheri said, "I want to teach you to see things differently." 
She told us which paints to use, which ones to mix.  It made no sense, but I did it.
She said to mix orange (of all crazy things) to the blue to keep the sky from being garish. I didn't understand, but I obeyed.
She explained how to make "sky holes" by putting the blue in the tree.
I copied her.
... And... almost like magic... trees appeared on my canvas!  I'd painted trees!  And they looked like trees!  I was so proud of that painting.  I still am.  

As we were planning the painting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat, I told Cheri that I'd paint whatever she planned, but I really hoped we'd paint a tree. She didn't forget.  

So... it's been 10 years... I've done 348 paintings... 
I'm still amazed every time a painting turns out like it's supposed to.
I still get frustrated when a painting isn't turning out like it's supposed to.
I have learned that every painting goes through an  ugly stage and that I have to trust that it will eventually come together.

I have so much still to learn, but I have much to celebrate as an artist. 
Happy Art-Birthday to me!
February 2017

February 2007

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Grapes & Pear Still Life

This still life is the third painting the four of us did during our painting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat.  

Cheri had us draw it with the trapezoid method, then block in the dark medium and light tones.  Since we'd had practice with both of those twice before, we all felt pretty confident.  But, she had another goal to go along with it.   She wanted us to paint without overthinking, without overworking, and to keep it painterly.  We actually timed ourselves.  From first paint stroke to signature at the bottom, I did it in 2 hours and 15 minutes. Not bad.  I have to say it was really freeing and fun.  Yes, I overworked my pear some, but I was pretty good about laying the paint down and leaving it alone on the rest. And, it was fun to put turquoise in the background, on the foreground and on the pear.  It was fun to put orange in each grape, on the pear, and in the black background.
I wonder if...  
I hope that...
I WILL use this method of painting again.  
I don't see it becoming second nature for me... 
I AM CONFIDENT it will become easier and feel more natural each time I loosen up and just do it.

So special to have my sister to hang out with us.  She didn't paint; she worked on a scrapbook. Whatever your craft, it's all about relaxing... creating... and inspiring each other at Welcome Home Retreat.  

We took a walk to visit the longhorn neighbors between paintings.   
I heard a rumor that we'll be painting one of those longhorns at the next painting weekend in mid June.  Contact me if you want to join us! 

Click "Grapes and Pear Still Life" to purchase this little painting.
Original Oil Painting on 10"x 10" wrapped canvas.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Pitcher and Radishes

Elegant simplicity... 
     one of my favorite combinations.  
A simple white pitcher and two simple red radishes... somehow... elegant together.

This little painting doesn't fit into my usual style; so, how did it come about?
Last weekend was a celebration, a celebration of my 10th anniversary as a painter.  We booked a weekend at Welcome Home Retreat, and I got to spend the three days with some of my favorite people doing my favorite things.
My art mentor Cheri had the painting plans, and this project was where we began.

First, Cheri taught us to use a trapezoid method to sketch in the image. Why, yes indeed, I was terrified not to have the option to trace the image onto the canvas... I am so NOT a drawer!  But... it worked!  

Next, she taught us to block in only the values... just darks, mediums, and lights. (If you look on our easels, you'll see that these didn't start out in color.) No, I did not have any faith. I imagined mine would be meaningless blobs of gray. Before I knew it, there it was... a pitcher with radishes. What do you know... it worked!  

Finally we got to add color, but Cheri had one more lesson for us.  She wanted us to add a discord color  "Color discord is created by using colors widely separated on the color wheel. These colors are visually disturbing … they clash. But, however unpleasant, they can provide excitement."  What that meant for us was, as Cheri said, "Find a place to sneak some turquoise or aqua in there!" And... yes... it worked.

Cheri is so encouraging, even when I whine and complain about trying something new.  Gosh, it was good to paint with her again!

You can purchase this little painting by clicking Pitcher and Radishes.
Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8".

Monday, February 13, 2017

Weekend Painting Retreat

Cheri, Helen, Julie, Judy

Last weekend, these ladies and I had a three-day break from real life and got to relax... create... and inspire each other. 
There is no adjective that I can think of that is positive enough to express how wonderful it was...

We painted...
                went for long walks... 
                          took pictures of the longhorns... 
                                     were served delicious meals... 
...sat in the hot tub under a full moon... 
                    got a massage... 
                          rocked in rocking chairs on the porch... 
                               visited the chickens... 
encouraged each other...
          admired each others' work..
                                inspired each other... 

We were very productive. Just look at the masterpieces we created. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Little Brown Donkey

On the last day of school last year, Ron picked me up as soon as I said goodbye to the kids, and we took a road trip.
What a great idea!  We drove to Custer State Park in South Dakota.  Let me just say, that going to a major tourist destination during the days before Memorial Day is the best.  We practically had the whole place to ourselves.

The weather was perfect.  We had no agenda, no real time table.   This little tourist trap sold peanuts to feed the prairie dogs.   There were hundreds of them, and they were pretty fat and pretty demanding.  But so cute!

Next stop... The Badlands!  What an amazing place.  We took the kids to The Badlands when they were about 9 and 12.  I remember telling the kids, "It's going to be kind of like a zoo... only for rocks instead of animals."  As you can imagine, that did not get them excited.  We've laughed about that description for years.  15 years later, it's still beautiful.
Bea... u... ti... ful!!!  

And we basically had The Needles Highway to ourselves.  

So relaxed... so weird that 24 hours earlier I was finishing the last day of school. 

One thing I was anxious to see again was the Chief Crazy Horse Monument.  They work on it every day, so I was thinking that there would be a noticeable change since I'd seen it 15 years before.
Hmmm... no...  not much changed.  Still huge... still working... still a long way from finished.  Still the story behind the family who works on it intrigues me.
It rained on us at Mount Rushmore, but that was okay.
We have a funny (well funny now) story about the last time we visited Rushmore.  We purposefully went on July 4 so we could see the fireworks show they do from the Presidents' heads.  Hmmm... Guess that was before Google when we could check schedules... The fireworks are done on July 3... Missed it...

The most memorable afternoon was when we hiked around Sylvan Lake.  There are certain places on earth that are so gorgeous that they don't seem real.  When you get to be in one of those places,  you just stop and appreciate the privilege of being there.  Like I said, we were there the days prior to Memorial day so we didn't have to share the trails or views.  On this particular hike, we met only one other couple.

So... what does all this have to do with the painting?

These funny little red donkeys came to greet us on the road.  I'm pretty sure they were begging for treats.  They were pretty persistent.. a.k.a. annoying.. but awfully cute.
Hee Haw!!!

Original Oil Painting on 11"x 14"