Thursday, February 28, 2019

Scattered Crayons

I love crayons.  
I love them pointy and new and smelling good.
I still love them broken and with peeled paper wrapping.

I loved coloring when I was little.  
I'd lay on the front porch and color the next page in a coloring book.
I stayed inside the lines, always!  And, I always used the right colors.
But, I never called them crayons; they were just my "colors."

I loved coloring with my kids. 
I think maybe I liked it better than they did.  I'm trying to remember, but I'm pretty sure they'd let me color in their coloring books while they played with something else.
Goodness, but aren't they the cutest little green crayon and pink crayon ever!

I like markers just fine.
I really like colored pencils a lot. 
But, I love crayons the best.

** Have you seen those new Twistables crayons?  
love, Love, LOVE those!

This is the second in a series of simple toys. (Unless, I don't ever get around to doing the marbles and whatever else I think of.  In that case, this is the other half of the pair of paintings of simple toys.)  The first one was "Jacks & Ball."

Original Oil Painting on 12"x 6" Wrapped Canvas.
Click "Scattered Crayons" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

First Daffodil of Spring

One brave little daffodil says she will not wait until March!

So many expectations for this little plot of ground!

The daffodils make a dainty green row, but most know not to bloom yet.  Our weather is tricky; 65 degrees yesterday, 25 degrees tomorrow.

The hyacinths are less than an inch above ground, but you can already see the purple in the center waiting for its turn to come up and flower.

The iris flags are making an appearance but will take their time.

The lilies are... well... never mind... Apparently deer like to eat day lilies... I might be bitter... hmph!

I'll have to remember to take a photo from this same spot in a few weeks.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

A Piece of Cake

We arrived at Welcome Home Retreat on a Thursday afternoon.  We enjoyed a good supper together, set up our work stations, then each worked on a small piece.  I finished my "Little Red Hen."  The entire next day was dedicated to our big painting.  Besides meals, we basically did nothing else.  By bedtime, "Field of Blue Flowers" looked pretty fabulous, if I do say so myself.  

The project we chose for Saturday morning was meant to be a simple one.  It was easy as pie; literally, it was a piece of cake... 

We chose this lesson from YouTube because it said it was meant to be painted in one sitting, alla prima.  The guy was a very good teacher and explained  every step. This was my first time to use impasto. It's a "goo" that you mix in the paint to thicken it and make a very textured surface. It made the icing look like icing... like you'd want to stick your finger in it and have a lick. I love the look and feel of the finished piece, but honestly, I did not like using impasto at all. 

To sum up the weekend, we ate... painted.. laughed... slept... painted... ate... painted... laughed... painted... ate... painted... laughed... painted... ate... painted... laughed... painted... slept...... just keep repeating that...

I always show my paintings, so how about a look at some of the meals Welcome Home Retreat put in front of us!

Gorgeous AND delicious!

We did find a little time to enjoy the farm friends who live on the grounds there.

These two tom turkeys were the funniest things!  They'd come to the widow of our workroom and have a look at what we were doing!  They'd puff out all their feathers to look as big and manly as possible strutting around.  Every time we'd laugh, they'd gobble to cover over our laughter.  So, of course we'd ha ha ha just to make them gobble gobble gobble again and again!

And how about this rooster!  I think they said his name was Thor.  What a beauty!  I think he may have to end up on a canvas one of these days.

Oil Painting on 8"x 8" Wrapped Canvas

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

A Painting Disaster Story

Yesterday I started a new painting and worked on it for several hours.  I got the sky, clouds, trees, the cabin and a tiny little longhorn in the background, and all the space for the ground covered.   When I cleaned up for the night and went to bed, I Googled “How to Paint Bluebonnets” and learned what I needed to know.  First thing this morning I was ready to go again.  Not long after Ron left for work, I was completely lost in the process of painting the 13 zillion bluebonnets of various sizes that I’d need to cover the entire foreground.  The country music was loud as usual...  The cat was watching me as usual… The dog was watching the cat as usual… But, because the painting is a really big one, I was facing my stand-alone easel instead of facing toward the table like usual… This different arrangement means I have my things in different places than normal.  I was using two different palettes because I kept switching the ground palette and the sky/bluebonnet palette. I’d keep the one I wasn’t using was on the step of the stool beside me. Maybe because the painting was big and my set-up was different, Pounce (the cat) seemed more intrigued than usual. 

The beginning of the disaster seemed to happen in slow motion…

I was holding a palette knife filled with a blob of blue paint and trying to figure out how to make the flower in the bottom left corner when my right hand wouldn’t turn that way. At that moment Pounce decided she’d come help.  My palette with all the greens was innocently sitting on that low step beside my right knee.  Her foot stepped on the corner of the palette causing it to flip up so that the green-paint-covered palette stuck to her (pure white) tummy. That spooked her.  As she tried to get away, I yelled at her.  (Just an FYI… Yelling at a scared cat does indeed not improve the situation.)  As fast as I could, I peeled the palette off the cat, while still yelling… I was yelling, not the cat… Actually, she may have been yelling too.)  

The cat took off down the stairs.  I couldn’t have her running helter-skelter around the house with oil paint all over her! I ran after her.  In hindsight probably a sweet, “Here, kitty kitty,” would have been more effective than my, “Where are you, Pounce!"   Well, of course, she was in that tiny cat-sized sliver of space between the couch and the wall.  And, of course, she was right in the middle exactly where she couldn’t be reached.  She was scared though, and she did trust me (at this point) so finally she came close.  I timed it right and grabbed.  She was not happy.  Ohhhh, Noooo!!! Her belly and leg were globbed with green paint!  I couldn’t just leave it!  If she got free, that would be all over the house.  I couldn’t put her outside! She was a mess!  I couldn’t leave her to lick it off! Oil paint is basically poison if consumed! 

There was really only one choice.  I had to give the cat a bath… the first bath of her life. (And, I’ll interrupt myself here to say that as far as I’m concerned, it will also be the last bath of her life.) I couldn’t cuddle her close because of smearing the paint, so I was holding her none too gently.  Did I mention that she was not at all happy? She was not.
Trying to put her into the sink brought a fiendish yowl.  I fought to find the correct way to hold while she was ripping my arms to shreds with her back claws.  I got my first look at her formerly white tummy and I knew I might be in for more than I knew how to handle.  I poured Dawn (the miracle dish soap as far as oil painters are concerned) on her tummy, tried to hold her head with my left hand and rub it in with my right.  Oh… my… goodness… greeeeeeeen everywhere… cat, sink, bubbles, me…

As if this could possibly get worse, the only logical thing to do next was spray that green sudsy tummy… Can I just tell you that some demonic guttural sounds came from deep within the very core of my normally sweet kitty’s being. And she was possessed by the savage strength of a hungry lioness attacking her prey (The prey being my arm.) She was not having it.  The hand that held spray of water was at risk.  She managed sink her teeth deep into the pad of my middle finger. (I may have mentioned before, but apparently yelling at a frightened, now very angry and very wet, cat does not serve to calm anyone.)

I pried her jaws from my finger and fastened my grip on the scruff of the neck. Perhaps I could stay out of harm’s way.  (I’ve seen the vet’s assistants do this. It looks easy and seems to calm the animal… Ummm… No…)  I didn’t have a choice, I had to go back in for another round.  I had her scruff held tight.  I squeezed a big glob of Dawn, and rubbed as fast as I could while doing my best to avoid those vicious back claws.  The green poured down and then mixed with the red… Wait… There was no red on that palette… Great!… That was my blood joining the colorful flow. 

Pounce made a pitiful sound...  Maybe I was holding her too hard!  She sounded like she might be choking!  I loosened just a bit…  Nope!  It was a lie!  She got my thumb and ground down. (I might mention one last time, that yelling does not bring havoc to a state of peace. Yelling does, however, encourage the dog who has been dancing with glee over this whole scenario, to start barking.)

Once I freed my thumb from her jaws-of-death grip, I was determined that was enough of that.

But… But… Are you kidding me? How could I end this?

I couldn’t dry her off because I didn’t have a towel and both hands were clasped around the beast.
I couldn’t toss her outside because it was 29 degrees and she was sopping wet.
I couldn’t put her in the garage because I hadn’t disarmed the house alarm.  That would be just great to add a loud beeping siren to the cacophony in the house.

There was dishtowel on the counter.  Almost tripping over the jubilant dog first, I plopped the cat onto the towel, removed my vice grip on her and did my best to soak up some of the water before she escaped.  The dog immediately started the chase…. Right… back… up… to the art room…

Poor pitiful little thing… the cat, not the dog.  The dog was delighted with the entire affair.  I wish I could tell you that she was back to being a black and white cat, but alas… she may be black, white, and green for quite a while.  I got most of the paint off, but the stain isn’t going anywhere.  And I am not about to risk another cat bath.

When I dragged my battle worn body in to the bathroom to shower, I discovered that my neck and half my face were green and my arms and cheek had lovely streaks of complementary red.

The cat settled into her favorite chair, but seemed a little… skittish. 
The dog was simply giddy while she kept a close eye on the cat. 
The palette of green paint had black cat hairs in it, and it went into the trash.
The painting is still coming along really nicely.  It’s going to be beautiful... I hope.
And I’m fine… although I’m wondering if the fact that my cat-bite punctured middle finger being swollen so big that there are no fingerprint ridges is kind of a not-good thing.   Hmmm… It’s been a pain to type an “i” or “k” or “8” or “,” (all the middle finger keys)

Pounce, now dry although still tinted green, is my sweet kitty once again..

Friday, February 15, 2019

Field of Blue Flowers

I can not stop looking at this painting!
I'm not a fan of blue (I know, I know!  Nearly everybody in the world is a huge fan of blue... sorry!) and this is clearly a painting about blue, but I love so may things about the piece overall. Honestly, it was an unexpected treat to like it so much.

This painting was the our biggest project of our painting workshop weekend at Welcome Home Retreat.  My Thursday-afternoon-art friends and I  traveled to Weatherford, Texas for 3 days being pampered, being very well fed, and being creative.

On other times we've had a teacher, but this time we had to come up with our own lessons.  Hooray for YouTube!    Julie & I would watch a little while, try to understand the colors and techniques, then turn to our canvases to try it ourselves. 

The whole painting was kind of one experiment after another. 

We got to use our fingers (in rubber gloves) for whisping out the clouds. We needed a fan brush for the trees in the distance. We used a big wide flat brush for the field and a color that didn't make sense at all until the end. There were layers of paint on our canvases that ended up being important when we dragged an erasing tool through them for some of the grasses. Then we got to load palette knives with lots of blue for the flowers. Finally a long bristled signature brush finished out the grasses.

Packing supplies for this kind of trip is tricky.  There's limited space in the car, but it's hard not to bring every single thing! Would you look at all those brushes!  Really?  Did I think I'd need all those?  

We began this painting first thing Friday morning, and stopping only for meals, we stayed with it until a late-night bed time.

What a fun day!  My sister Sheila worked across from me.  She was sewing gorgeous new pillow cases for each bed there. She finished all 28 during the weekend.  Can you see that little old machine she's sewing with?  It's a Featherweight that she bought (already old then) in 1970 when she left home for college.  She says, "It still sews like a charm!"

Our friend Jeanne was working across the workroom on her mixed media assemblage.   She looked up and said, "Oh, you're finished!"  I asked how in the world she knew that.  She said, "I can tell.  You have your signing-your-name face that you have when you're putting your signature on."  What?  Do I have a signing-your-name face? Hmmm...

A pretty good day's work!

And a good fresh Coke in a pretty goblet is pretty standard sight at my art table.

Does this painting
a.) Draw you in?
b.) Draw your eye back through the field? to the trees?
c.) Draw your eye up through the sky? to the clouds?
d.) Make you feel like taking a deep contented breath?

For me it was a yes, yes, yes, yes... 

Thanks to our YouTube lesson painter (In case you want to give it a try... A little tip... He doesn't speak at all and has the most annoying music ever. Unless you want to hear an 80 minutes of that, mute the volume.)

Oil painting on 18"x 24" wrapped canvas

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

Little Red Hen

Meet Red Red...
    Or maybe it's Other Red.
I can never be sure because they look exactly alike and are right beside each other all.. the... time!

Here's the thing...
We gave them names when we got them, but we always ended up calling them "The Reds."  I felt bad that they didn't have their own names, so we decided to make the red and the other red proper nouns. They became Red Red and Other Red.
At night Red Red and Other Red live in the Cousin House with Fancy while Sylvia, Dolly, and Monique live in the Sister House. They all hang out together during the day.
Red Red
She is funny and smart and brave.  As soon as I let them out in the mornings, she follows me right to the back door.  She's learned that if she's right there, I'll toss her a handful of treats.  She's happy to eat right out of my hand or stick her head down into the treat jar.  
Other Red
Ditto everything I just wrote about Red Red. Except for the times when one is laying an egg, they're together.

What a little sweetheart.  She's gentle and timid and maybe a little slow.  She is usually waddling up about the time everyone else has just finished whatever treat I've just tossed out.  She's the easiest to pick up which is a good thing because she's never quite ready when put everyone else to bed.  We end up picking her up and putting her in the coop.
This one has the attitude!  We laugh at her all the time because she has a mind of her own. She's been a good mama twice though. We love the pretty blue eggs she lays for us.
Dolly is kind of bossy, maybe even a little grumpy sometimes.  I think she wants to be head hen.  She was a good mama this summer.  You can see a little one under her.
The beautiful hen was that little baby under Dolly in the photo above.  She just began laying eggs of her own this week.  She's still pretty skittish, but she's settling in to being a grown up instead of the baby.

Here are the girls having a sunbath beside their houses. They're so funny.

I completed this painting during a painting retreat last weekend at Welcome Home Retreat in Weatherford, Texas.

 Original Oil Painting on 6"x 8" Wrapped Canvas.
Click "Little Red Hen" if you'd like to purchase this little painting.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Flamingo Reflection

Elegance & Simplicity... my favorite combination...

One evening as I was scrolling through Facebook (like ya' do...) I came to my friend Marquita's Christmas-in-Florida pictures.  I clicked to open then kept scrolling through (like ya' do...) when... Wait! Go back! Where was that one!  The next thing I typed was a quick private message to Marquita. "I love, Love, LOVE the picture of the lone flamingo with his reflection.  Would you give me permission to use that as a reference photo for a painting?"  Lucky for me, she must have been online doing her nightly scroll through Facebook, and she responded right away with a, "Yes, ma'am, you sure can."

Sometimes it happens.  
An image just calls out to be put on canvas.  
I love that. 

I looked through my paintings to find ones where that had happened, where I randomly saw an image and knew I had to paint it.
I wondered if there were some commonalities in what I loved so much that it was worth asking for permission to use it.
The daughter of a nephew.
Saw it on Facebook.
The daughters of two nieces.
Saw it in another niece's wedding photos.
The daughter and father of a friend.
Saw it on Instagram.

The daughter of a sister of a niece-in-law.
Saw it on Facebook.
A friend.
Saw it on Facebook.

My brother, sister-in-law, & their grandsons.
Saw it on Facebook.
Hmmmm.... It's pretty clear that I have a thing for images that show people from the back.
From a friend's hiking photos.
(A possum is my "spirit animal"... long story...)
From a blog friend's blog post.
From a blog friend's blog post.

From a blog friend's blog post.
From a blog post of someone I didn't know
(until I asked to paint his photograph).
So... Why did I find this image so captivating?
Elegant simplicity.  
Just one single beautiful flamingo... still water... no trees or reeds or waves or other flamingos or rocks. 
Elegant simplicity.

Original Oil Painting on 16"x 20" Wrapped Canvas