Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dayna's Gift

Thanks for reading my bits and pieces, I hope you are all enjoying them as much as I am writing them.  As always, this is copyrighted material.

"If I tell you this stuff, you've got to promise me you won't decide I'm crazy, okay?  Or that my kid is.  'Cause she's not.  Well, maybe the jury's still out on my sanity." LeAnne smiled weakly.

“Yeah, we’ve been meaning to talk to you about that, Sweetie, but do go on.”  Nettie could hardly contain her curiosity, and Darce settled herself comfortably for a good story.

LeAnne eyed each woman nervously, then proceeded softly.

“Don’t misunderstand me, Dayna’s a good kid.  I don’t mean she spied on anyone.  the things she would say out loud weren’t meant to harm or tease.  She thought she was helping, I’m sure.  But they were alarming for others in that it was often regarding things she shouldn’t have known.”  LeAnne swallowed hard, looking from one puzzled face to the other.  “What I mean is, nobody would’ve known!  And how she knew these things is beyond me, but it was pretty unsettling to others.  Especially Dayna’s teachers.”

Nettie scrutinized LeAnne for a few moments, squinting as though it would bring her words into sharper focus.  Darce’s face only registered blank curiosity.

LeAnne went for broke.  “For instance, one day when she was in second grade, all the kids were practicing spelling words, I think, and the class was quietly working on their papers.  Suddenly, Dayna looked at the little girl in a nearby desk and said aloud, ‘Your dad wants you to look in the big pipe under the driveway.  Buddy Boo is there.’  The little girl burst into tears and ran from the room.”

“I don’t get it,” Darce said, “why was that so upsetting?”

LeAnne looked down at her lap before she went on, “The little girl’s dad had died the previous summer.  Buddy Boo was a stuffed dog the little girl had lost about the time of his death.”

All three women remained silent for a few minutes.  LeAnne feared her companions were busy revising their opinions of her.  She shouldn’t have brought this up, should've kept her mouth shut.  She looked from one face to the other, sadly.

Nettie finally cleared her throat, loudly, and fixed LeAnne in a hard gaze.  "My Dear, your daughter isn't peculiar.  She's gifted."

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Collaboration With A Master Doodler

Every time I spend time with my grandchildren, I come away enhanced somehow.  Not only from the pleasure of their loving and sparkly presence, but from unexpected stuff, too.  I found my daughter's Gustav Klimt book on the coffee table while baby-sitting, and grabbed my ever-present sketchbook.  I was inspired by Klimt's female faces.  I stopped short of filling in the body forms, and instead, handed the pages to the kids to finish that part.  When they were done, I put in color.  Above is my grandson's work.  He says he doesn't draw or paint.  He "doodles".  I think he thinks drawing and painting is girl stuff, and at the age of (almost) eight, he's in the midst of figuring out what's boy-stuff and what's girl-stuff.  Sadly, I was unable to get my granddaughter's permission to use her efforts, so you'll have to take my word for it.  That girl can PAINT!!

Not sure what the deal is with the anvil falling on this creature's head, nor the sword piercing her brain. Maybe it's a clever hat pin.  Is that a tombstone over her liver?  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beer, Paints and Sock Toy

“You seem miles away, my Dear, is there something going on you’d like to share with us?” Nettie asked Darce, who continued to fidget with her pencil sharpener long after her companions had settled into their afternoon tasks.

“Now I can’t say as I’ve heard anyone ask a question of me like that since...oh, elementary school.”  Darce retorted, grimacing, “Teacher, do I hafta?” she squeaked in a child’s whine.

Nettie placed her fists on her hips in mock disapproval, shaking her head.  “You can always stay after school, young lady!”

Darce cupped her hand next to her mouth, sticking her tongue out at Nettie in such a way only LeAnne could see it.  LeAnne pointed accusingly at Darce and scolded, “Umm! I’m gonna tell!”

“Don’t make me come smack you, now, Darce,”  Nettie scowled, wagging her finger in warning.

Darce nodded, slowly, narrowed her eyes, a sly smile crept over her face, “You wanna piece o’ me?  You come and get it, Lady.  Make my day!” Her hands beckoned Nettie, playfully, who looked dutifully shocked.  

“Why, I never,” she gasped indignantly, “After all I’ve done to share the pearls of my wisdom with you girls, and this is the thanks I get!”  She turned her shoulder and looked away, doing her best to act hurt and offended, until Archibald’s sock toy hit her on the back of the head.  Nettie whirled around, only to see Darce and LeAnne both pointing innocently at Archibald, who seemed to be feigning sleep so well, her lips and eyebrows were twitching.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

LeAnne's Egg

Another chapter snippet:

One of the birds shot into her arms and clung there a moment, panting and cocking it’s head to peer up at her.  Strangely, it had a miniature woman’s face, much like Nettie’s, but without her characteristic smile.  LeAnne felt it was trying to convey a message to her that she was too dense to understand.  To LeAnne’s dismay, a hole burst open in the bird’s soft chest, but the blood that exploded forth bloomed into a large, red rose.  In an instant, the bird had dissolved like melted butter, leaving LeAnne gripping the rose in her hand, as she plummeted to the highway below.  

Dayna squinted up at her mother as she descended.  In her hands were several small blue eggs, like those from a Robin’s nest.  “Mom,” she barked at her mother, “You’ll be late!”

LeAnne, startled by her daughter’s words, flailed frantically, to prevent the inevitable collision with the asphalt.  I can’t fly!  This is how I die, isn’t it?

“You need to get up!”  

LeAnne sat up with a gasp, her damp nightshirt clinging to her body.  Dayna was leaning into LeAnne’s bedroom doorway, chewing a bite of toast from the slice in her hand.  “Your alarm’s been chiming for about 15 minutes, can I turn it off?” She marched over to LeAnne’s nightstand in her yellow knee socks and flipped the clock’s alarm switch, probably leaving jam on it for LeAnne to discover that night, and trudged back out, the ancient sweatshirt she used for a nightgown hanging off one shoulder. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Another Bit

Some more bookwork:

Finding a table big enough for five or six people suited LeAnne just fine.  Nothing too intimate.  She didn’t want Will staring her down with those cold, judgmental eyes.  Laying her purse and cup down, she slid into her chair.  A burst of laughter across the room amongst a cluster of couches drew her attention to a group of women who all seemed to be in various stages of knitting something.  Someone had shared a good joke.  LeAnne envied their light-hearted banter.  Then her gaze fell upon an older gentleman at a small table the other side of the pillar from them, and her heart flipped when she realized it was her father.  He was looking back at her, his hands wrapped around a cup of coffee.  Clumsily, she grabbed her purse, dropped it, picked it up, banged her elbow on the underside of the table, sloshing her chai.  Get a grip, LeAnne, calm down.  She flicked a meek smile toward her father, took a deep breath and moved slowly, casually, to his table.  As she slid into the chair opposite his, he quietly offered up his napkin.

“Thanks,” LeAnne said, wiping her wet fingers, “Hi, Dad.”

“Hello, LeAnne,” Will tugged one side of his mouth up slightly, snugging it around a toothpick.  This was a characteristic gesture she knew well from childhood.  He would talk around it, she remembered, moving it from one side of his mouth to the other with his tongue.  More communication could be conveyed with that animated stick of wood between his teeth than ever came out in actual words.  Sometimes she could read his thoughts entirely by watching the angle and progress of the toothpick.

“Sorry I’m late, Dad,” LeAnne stammered, “traffic was really...”

Will cut her off in mid-sentence with a voice so low and soft, she almost didn’t recognize it as his.  “It’s okay, LeAnne,” he began, “I needed the time to sort things out in my head.”  His hands rotated his coffee cup around and around slowly as he talked, like a gear wheel in an old clock, carefully marking the progress of the minutes of his life.  “I hope this is okay,” he said, glancing over his shoulder and around the room, “I mean, it’s kinda noisy, but close to where you can get home to Dayna when you need to...”

LeAnne reassured Will this was one of her favorite spots, it would do just fine.  Her heart was pounding so hard he must’ve been able to hear it, she thought.  Damn, she wished he wasn’t being so polite, it really was making her tense.  But then, Dad never was one to come off as anything but polite.  Mostly.  It was the toothpick that usually spoke volumes, wasn’t it?  Tooth pick semaphore, sending coded intentions.

“Well, let me just jump right into it, then,” Will continued.  “As I told you on the phone, there’s a bit of a medical concern.  Been having some pains for awhile, now, and my doc’s been pushing me to have a colonoscopy.  I hate those things.  Last one, five years ago, I swore would be my last.  Anyway, I did, and they found something I guess they didn’t like the looks of.  Snipped some and now we’re waiting for the lab results.  Won’t know til Friday.”  Will looked at his fingers, and they looked back at him.  The toothpick flicked from one side of his mouth to the other, then back again in rapid succession.  

LeAnne saw such a lost vulnerability in his eyes, such loneliness in the face of his unknown future.  Her heart began to ache for this man who raised her, but seemed so foreign to what she remembered of him.  His years hung heavily upon the lines of his face, the age spots on his balding scalp, the callouses and scars on his knuckles.  When Will lifted his eyebrows, there were now so many creases in his forehead, LeAnne observed, he probably could’ve screwed his hat on.

Monday, October 14, 2013

And Now For Something Completely Different...

As some of you know, I've been pre-occupied the last several months with my novel, which for the most part I've been more comfortable calling it a "writing project".  I'm having a lot of fun with it, and though it's a long way from publishing at this point, I've made huge strides in filling my big file box with finished and partly finished chapters.  At a suggestion from my brilliant daughter this morning, I've decided to share with you bits and pieces now and again of what I've written.  Why is this so much scarier than sharing my sketches, or photos of sculpture?  I have more thoughts on that, but that'll wait.  I hope everyone seeing this will understand that this material is copyrighted, and honor that.

Friday’s sketching date seemed too ambitious for LeAnne, as the previous night a fast-moving cold had set up residence in her head.  It would’ve been so easy for her to take her day off from work and stay in bed.  Dayna had another three weeks of school left before summer break, so LeAnne would have the day to herself to soak in the tub and read.  However, the pleasure she had in the company of the other women and the commonality of their creativity on those weekly dates together had become more precious than a day alone in the bathtub.  

When she arrived at the day’s agreed upon site, Darce and Nettie were already engrossed in a humorous debate regarding Archibald’s ongoing skin condition.  LeAnne settled herself on her folding stool, and began assembling her day’s tools for her project as they talked, animatedly.  One of LeAnne’s chief complaints when she suffered from colds was her tendency to become slightly deaf until the virus began clearing up.  Voices around her were often muffled, so during those times people who spoke to her were met with puzzled stares. Dayna had compensated through the years by just yelling at her mother when she was sick. Often the yelling would go on beyond the span of her mother’s ailment, and she had to be reminded that it wasn’t needed anymore.   

“Spider dander?” LeAnne sniffled at Darce as she popped open her pencil case.

Darce turned and stared at LeAnne for a moment, then repeated her previous comment. “I said, ‘Archibald seems to be doing pretty well... despite her dander problem’”.  

“Are you alright?” Nettie turned to LeAnne, concerned.

“Just a head cold,” LeAnne whined,  “It usually clogs my ears.  Sorry.  You two go on talking, I’ll just sit here in my muffled cone of silence.  Throw a rock or something if you need a response.” 

Nettie tossed her tissue packet toward LeAnne, helpfully, before she and Darce continued their conversation. 

LeAnne quickly fell into her own thoughts as she pulled a series of strokes on her sketchpad with a new, solid-graphite pencil, a tissue dangling from one nostril.  The pressure in her skull from the cold darkened her inside dialogue and images, pulling her expression into a scowl as she tried to make sense of her random pencil marks.  She resisted the impulse to grab the eraser, as each line was making her angrier and angrier.  Before long she was sure that coming to the river today was a mistake.  She should go home and soak in a hot bath, lose herself in a science fiction novel. 

Glancing up to tell her companions of her decision to go home, a movement on the opposite bank of the water caught her attention.  It was rare to see someone or something over there, as she knew that on that stretch of river, the acreage was private property.  There were no paths on that side, and it was heavily overgrown with salal, right to the water’s edge.  Even so, she knew there was something, someone, that slipped out of view deftly as she looked up.  Focusing carefully, patiently, LeAnne caught sight of a jacket arm that nearly blended with the tree-branches.  Her heart rate picked up as she determined there was a man’s hand attached to that jacket sleeve, and unless she was mistaken, a pair of binoculars were gripped in that hand.  Then, before LeAnne could direct the attention of the other women, the arm melted into the brush and vanished.  Though she’d heard only muffled words of Darce’s and Nettie’s conversation, the sharp snap of a stick on the other side of the river confirmed for LeAnne she wasn’t hallucinating.  

“Quick, both of you, look behind you... across the river!” LeAnne hissed, stretching her arm in the direction of a distant figure, now retreating through the tall grass in the meadow.

Nettie twisted her torso to gaze in the area LeAnne indicated, holding her hand to her sun-blinded eyes.  LeAnne held her breath, waiting for Nettie’s comment.  The older woman pushed herself up on her knees, now obviously seeing the retreating figure.  By the time Darce dropped her pen and looked up, there was nothing to see, as the figure had moved beyond an obscuring line of trees by then.  All three stood up, one by one, Darce glancing back at LeAnne for further direction.  

As much as Nettie had been curious, she was just as suddenly unconcerned.  Dropping back down to her paints, she fell silent, engrossed in her work.  Darce remained standing, hoping to see the subject of LeAnne’s excited outburst.  

“Nettie, did you see him?” LeAnne asked.  “I think that man was watching us!”

Nettie made almost a dramatic display of swirling her brush in her water jar, and with a distracted voice, mumbled, “Maybe. Probably a hiker.”

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Wine Display

One of the difficulties I have with doing a Sketch Crawl is the fear of trespass... even in a public place.  I usually feel that if it's a retail outlet, I should either be there to buy, or at least to be browsing.  It was as a result of being a two-some in our 'crawling' that emboldened me to stand in a narrow aisle at Joe Euro's Wine Seller in Port Townsend yesterday, whip out my little Moleskine and pens, and sketch away.  Still, I only got the bare outlines and basics, memorizing the way the light glowed and the difference between the green hues of two of the bottles as well as the brick's shadow tones, so to be able later to fill that stuff in.  I had some help with the foil and label on the Roederer bottle by checking a British Champagne importer's images online.  

I have to say, sketching on the fly, and leaving more to memory later, has certainly helped me to see the details of the world more comprehensively.  

Saturday, October 5, 2013

An Inspirational and Creatively Expansive Day

Yesterday a new friend and I enjoyed a day together in Port Townsend, getting to know one another and seeing the town through the eyes of urban sketchers.  Our creativity worked well with each other, and after viewing a wonderful show hanging at the Simon Mace Gallery, we were inspired to find a bench across from the Mt. Baker building and draw with an expanded viewpoint.  Perhaps this is how  Antoni Gaudi might've viewed Port Townsend.  

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chaco By The Fire

With Jim's and my time sucked up by continuing and trailing loose-end projects on the house, we've become pretty good at tucking small creative things in while waiting for the contractor to arrive, or paint to dry or deliveries.  My studio is still only that cool refuge downstairs that Jim and I retreat to with a glass of wine in the evenings, to watch the sun go down over the garden.  All my studio furniture and equipment is there in disarray, still waiting to be organized into a functioning space for painting and writing.  However, for the time being, I can put in fifteen minutes here and there with Procreate on my iPad, or macrame a beaded cord on a clipboard for a pendant, etc.

The above is "painted" in Procreate from another photo of a friend's old Maine Coon cat.  The only part of the photo left that I haven't painted over is the center of the cat's face.  And even there I've enhanced it.  The background is a fabrication on my part, the cat just looked like he needed to be by a fireplace.   A regal animal, for sure.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

My Mom Talks To Bigfoot

Once upon a time, my family was famous for it's great Halloween parties.  The one depicted here was in the late '80s, my girls were teenagers, and one of the decorations was my recently sculpted and fired "skull" we referred to as Bigfoot.  I found this photo in a box a few weeks ago, had forgotten about Bigfoot until it showed up!  I forget now what happened to this guy....

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Expanding Kizzy

I know, this is cheating.  I have used a photo sent to me by a friend of her cat to practice my Procreate tools on my iPad.  This is Kizzy, or at least the dreamlike Kizzy I manifested from the original.  I recreated some of the background to give her more room in her setting, and greatly expanded her coat, using the tints Procreate said were already going on in the photo... I just exaggerated them a bit!  The last challenge was the lit eye.  In the photo, it was all but washed out, so I recreated it, from a description my friend gave me of it on the phone.  

This beats doodling any day.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Waiting To Eat

So nice to get out and have some fun in Port Townsend the other day.  Jim and I went to see a movie at Rose Theatre after a lovely lunch at The Fountain Cafe across the street (just before they closed).  A funky place with outrageously wonderful food!  I'm getting faster at sketching, now, and enjoy establishments or scenery that are colorful and different.  Or textural.  LOVE texture!  This was done in my little Moleskine with pen and Cotman watercolors, some of which I've pried out and squished in my own colors because I like them better.  Funny, after having been a portrait painter for so many years, you'd think I'd do more sketches with people in them.  I guess I can't get over the privacy thing.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Dream of Sierra

Another shot of our geriatric kitty, Sierra, that lent itself to painting digitally with Procreate.  This week is her last with us, Jim is creating a sweet slideshow with music as a tribute.  I like that I can take the photo of the cat and play with her fur, ears, whiskers, body shape, eyes, and recreate a version of our little friend that is more dreamlike.  A fantasy version of Sierra.  

Friday, July 5, 2013

Imaginary Village Perspective Revisited

Along the lines of my previous blog postings, I photographed with the iPad outdoors my original sketch of "Imaginary Village Perspective" (refer to my 4-28-12 posting), then put the image in Procreate's gallery, and went to work on it.  The photo was imperfect, so the paper came out blue.  I liked the blue and ran with it.  Using a slight purple palette, I drew, painted and smudged until the Village had filled out.  Do you like it?  I am learning something new, so PLEASE feel free to comment!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Forest Extensions

Another try at fooling around with Procreate.  This was a photo I took with my iPad from our office window upstairs.  The photo only went so far, so I "painted" forest extensions (think hair extensions) at the top quarter of the page.  I enhanced some tree trunks (on the lower part), twigs, shadows, plunked in a little sky.  As I seem so miserably inept, so far, at painting a "canvas" from scratch on Procreate, I'm practicing my skills on imported photos until I'm a little better.  Sometimes I get so into it I forget it's not a "real" painting, and I impulsively try to dip my stylus in my ice tea and swish it around.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Wizard Princess

Now that bulk of house projects is tapering off, Jim and I are gradually getting back to normal.  Getting laundry done, re-hanging a houseful of paintings and prints, replacing furniture, and even more important, getting a little creativity in here and there.

This is a photo I had taken with our iPad about three months ago of our elderly Maine Coon, Princess Sierra Frost (or just Sierra).  I've been trying here and there to get a little play time in with the new toy, particularly the painting app I've put on it, Procreate.  It's a marvelous tool, and one can become quite proficient in no time at all, working with it's sketching, painting, and pastel techniques.  However, it's been slow going, and now that I've got mail installed, I can send these to myself and post them on my blog!  As you can see, I enhanced Sierra's fur quite a bit.  I simply captured the color of her fur with the eyedropper, then drew extensions on the photo of her locks.  Coming back with a smudge tool, I blended each curl nicely.  I'm having way too much fun!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Groping Along

There are days my creative efforts feel like I'm whistling into the wind.  They are caught, dissolved and dissipated before they can congeal into something meaningful.  The ground for the seeds of my ideas sometimes feels incredibly infertile and everything dies on the vine.  Can I squeeze any more metaphors into this posting?

Today, though, sitting at the computer and writing on my literary project seemed to be the best use of my time. Some really satisfying stuff was accomplished.  I think I'll go watch the exquisite sunset, now, with a really nice glass of wine to mirror it's colors in my hand.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

At Rest

It's been a lovely day spent with various friends, great conversation between bites of sumptuous food, and enjoying stimulating art with fellow painters at a gallery opening.  Now, curled up in my favorite chair in the twilight hours, I need to release a little of that creative energy on whatever happens to be in the room with me.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Marcel's Concept

Remember Marcel (blog posting from 1-11-12)?  I found the original sketch from 2001 that prompted the clay version not long after.  The tinted photo beneath is my previous husband, Neil's, photograph.  We used this version (as well as a blue one) on our Christmas cards that year.  No one threw their cards away after Christmas.  We referred to him as the Angel of Abundance.  He struck a note, I guess, with many in 2001.  I still like Jim's recent photo at the top the most.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm Published!

I've had the privilege of being a contributing author in Cath Mich's book. It's a powerful collection of  stories (including mine) from women who have overcome obstacles in their past to grow toward compassionate strength. I'd highly recommend it!

Here's the Amazon link:


Monday, May 27, 2013

Back To Work

There's a great deal of satisfaction in putting my creative furniture and tools back into place after the new floor has been installed in the studio.  Jim and I put our shoulders, backs and creaky joints into it this afternoon, and have most of the heavy stuff back in.   It's amazing how much light the carpeting had absorbed, pale as it was, when it was on the floor in there.  The room looks so light and bright, now that it's gone and the gleaming marmoleum is in place!  I can't wait to begin painting, drawing and writing in that magical room looking into the garden.  My neighbors, the birds who hang out at the feeder outside my window, and the chipmunk who gleans their careless left-overs from the concrete below, will keep me endlessly distracted as I wait for the Muse to inspire me.  A very meditative space, indeed.  So good to get back to work!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Stealing Birdseed

Jim and I have declared this week our "stay-cation" week.  It's a tricky balance between being on vacation (holiday for those non-US folk), and still being in our home.  The great thing about being away on vacation, like in Victoria, BC, or even Whidbey Island, Washington, is that we are forced NOT to attend to daily chores and diversions.  We only have to deal with things like, oh...  "OMG... I didn't pack my toothbrush!"  Or, ..."'room complete with kitchenette' means broken, burnt Teflon pans and lipstick on coffee cups?" or, .... "Honey, I TOLD you we needed to turn off fifteen miles back!" or...  "Our room is three flights up? Crap!!!".    So, instead, we check the stock market, do laundry, we answer calls, we are reminded that we haven't called the painter and scheduled her crew to come tape and prep, and we clean up cat vomit in the morning.  Other than that, we're basking in the serenity of ... well.... cloudy and rainy days in which we try and figure out what it means to relax.

Trying to keep in the spirit of that vacation mode, I put on my sketch bag as I walked down to post the Netflicks in the mailbox.  I was hoping to be distracted by something on our (really very pretty) property that begged to be sketched or painted.  It wasn't until I got back to the house that I saw a weird bird in the bird feeder.  The closer I got, the more the "bird" looked like a chipmunk.  She was so very pre-occupied with stuffing her face, that I stood maybe five feet away without her startling.  She did look up at me periodically, and each time she glanced up, her cheek pouches were bulging even more than the last time.  She was packing groceries for the kids back home!  In total, it was maybe ten minutes she was sucking down the seed before she plunged to the pavement below, running off to the nest, her back end decidedly higher than the front.  It was time enough for me to quietly pull my sketchbook and pen from my bag and sketch her outline.  For another 45 minutes after her departure, I was able to paint in the landscape.  For one hour, I felt I was on vacation.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Care To Join Me In A Cup Of Tea?

Has the energy of your world gone insane, also?  Can we please slow down and get back to those comforting rituals that remind us of our humanity?  Celebrate the small, delightful moments of our lives when we let the dishes just rot in the sink, the phone ring, and financial decisions wait until we're good and ready to tackle them (if ever), as we have much more important things to do.  Care to join me?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


Has it really been more than a month since I've posted?  It was wonderful taking the watercolor class with Catherine Mix, as it pushed me to be working.  It was a priority.  Currently we are in a flurry (well, "flurry" is a strong word for what we are doing) of house upgrading projects.  I don't know if doing them all at once is any better than stringing them out week by week, month by month, but right now it looks as though we will never be done!  We greet handymen at the ungodly hour of 9 AM in our jammies, hair askew, tea brewing in the kitchen.  We have the majority of projects yet to come, with the house being painted inside and out (it's a lotta house to cover!), some new floors upstairs and down, though we already have the bamboo flooring done in the master bedroom... YAY!!  It's gorgeous.  My studio is in a constant state of flux, waiting for track lighting to be installed as well as a new marmoleum floor to be installed.

Funny about the painting.  The house is covered in a collage of patchwork paint ideas, with crates of sample quarts lying about.  Some of these have been applied and rejected (ugh... what were we thinking?  Babydoll pancake make-up pink?), some have been blended for new color ideas.  A few days ago, I chose two of the colors, Sherwin Williams Clary Sage and Mauve Finery, a green and a purple, and occupied myself in the hallway bathroom making stripes on the wall with them.  The Japanese Maple is leafed out by our porch, so I clipped some of the leaves, painted them with Pthalo Green from my artist's acrylic paints and printed the wall with them.  WOW.   That got my creative juices going, and I have begun embellishing with some of the Zen Tangle details I used in the posting called "Pewter Cat Dreams".  It looks great on the wall!  Oh, well, that's one room that the painter doesn't need to work on.  What if the Tangles get curious and want to travel out the door and down the hallway?  Could I keep them confined to just one room?  Poor Jim, things are getting out of control.  His wife is coloring outside the lines!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Dress-Up Girl

Today our daughter posted a photo on Face Book that was so endearing, it brought tears to my eyes, and I had to pull out the paints.  Our little granddaughter appears to be preparing for her dance number.  Tango, perhaps?  I love dresses over jeans, though they really don't look as good on me as they obviously do her.  I just can't make stiletto heels work for me, either.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

Discovery Bay Pastoral

I've driven by this spot hundreds of times, but it wasn't until Catherine gave us a photo she took for last week's class study that I appreciated the terrain for it's sumptuous vitality.  Serene, ageless and inviting. All I had ever focused on as I passed this area, was the tacky hamburger joint.  Sometimes even a painter might not really connect with a landscape until she translates it to paper (or canvas).

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Watercolor Pears

I've come to accept that my style is to "evolve" painting projects a little at a time over the course of days.  I'm sure there are many of you who nod your heads enthusiastically while reading this, feeling reassured that there is someone else out there whose paintings never seem to be done, until one day the last bit snaps into place and you know it's finished.  Hopefully you'll know it's finished!  Well, this painting wasn't an example of this.  I scurried to create it a couple hours before Catherine's class, and it was done.  Well, almost.  The last piece snapped into place tonight, moments before I scanned it.   So it was done within a day, from Catherine's photo.   Cheating, I used Inktense pencils to finish off the un-crisp edges of the pears (okay, Michael, now you know the truth about my edges!).  I love tidy on my artwork, but not necessarily in the studio itself.  


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Test Pears

We've been given some photographed subject matter by our teacher to work on.  This time it's pears.  Not being quite sure of the colors I would use, I sketched a preliminary drawing first with my trusty Derwent Inktense pencils, wetted with a fine point waterbrush.  I love getting to know my subject matter intimately as I paint; doing so certainly helped when I was a portrait painter in Boston in the '70s.  By "intimately" I don't mean... well... excuse me while I blush.  What I mean is, I studied the model's features carefully as I painted.  I even engaged them in conversation, asking about their lives and interests, which somehow helped to distinguish certain aspects of their posture or features.  For instance, maybe an enlisted man's tender reference to his mother as he posed somehow helped me to focus on the way the sunlight struck the tips of his blond eyelashes.  Something fragile, innocent, boyish.  

Now if I were to ask these pears what they love to do on their days off, they would no doubt giggle and squirm, drawing attention to their bashful posture, one against the other.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Emerging Daisies

You could probably count the number of times I've painted (or drawn) flowers in my life on one hand.  Trees, mountains, barns, portraits, animals have all found their way to my canvases over and over again, but I've never been much of a flower child (just a hippie).  But looky me...  I'm paintin' flowers!  This IS a good class.  I did have to work this painting for a week or so, and couldn't get it right until a class critique session helped me focus on emerging the blossoms by darkening the greens around them, as well as the sky.   The values were too similar, nothing popped, so I spent some time tonight putting depth into the painting.  My much admired friend, Marian, is masterly at that.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Orange and Red

Nothing better than hanging out with a group of talented students, slopping wet paint on paper.  This was our project today.  Our wonderful teacher helped us to understand how to have faith in the ability of pigments to find their own way, once introduced into a wet painting.  As with the next few paintings, these were painted from Catherine Mix's photos.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Three Red Study

I may never finish that "before" painting or even begin the "after" painting of the new studio, as the "after" is kinda boring.  The couch was the only interesting thing in the room and now it's gone.  Maybe I'll catch up with that once the walls are covered with colorful paintings.  So you may all have to wait several years until the "after"!  

I've begun my watercolor class with Catherine Mix, and this is my first homework assignment.  Three different reds, she wanted us to paint.   It was a pleasure to lay on brush strokes of luscious, crisp reds, a  color I haven't always enjoyed through the years.  

Can you locate the "pentimento" in this image? (Hint: Go back and read my October 6th 2012 posting) 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Board and Batten

Feeling a bit light-headed this afternoon, I let Jim finish the shopping inside our local farm stand-style grocery store, while I waited in the car.  The exterior wall was so pleasurable to look at, I just had to sketch it.  I loved the way the small potted shrubs were arranged in a random order that were for sale, with the board and batten wall having been moistened so many times when the plants were sprayed, that the wood had silvered prematurely.  The green of the infant trees was so welcome on these cold, gray days of winter, I drank them in with my eyes!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2D Studio First Day Part Deux

Hopefully this sketch will be finished soon...  I've already set up my new drafting table and need to get on with the studio progress!  Maybe I'll have to consider doing only a "before" and "after" sketch.  But you know how it goes with an artist's studio...   is there ever an "after"?

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2D Studio First Day

The mess before the transformation.  Nice there was something to actually paint beyond the window.   This is a sketch in progress, just as the studio is in progress.  Don't forget, you can click on the photo to enlarge.... in case you're wondering what the heck is written on that cardboard box.   Or you think that may be a nude up there, but you're not sure... 

The New Studio

Down the hall from my clay studio is another room that has had a couple different identities since the building of this house in 1999.  For years it was an entertainment room, with couches, easy chairs and a big screen TV on the wall.  Jim and I rarely saw it during daylight hours, and in fact, the shades were always pulled on the window and the patio door.   Last year I convinced Jim to bring up the TV and create an all-purpose hang-out room of our living area, and turn the entertainment room into his photographic studio.  We  now spend a lot of time in the living room, and find it quite cozy!  However, the TV room-turned-photo-studio has a couch and some professional photo equipment and no one goes in there.  At least its inherent darkness would've been useful for its new intended purpose.

I have not sculpted for more than a year (there I said it), and for the first time in close to thirty years, I seriously feel that chapter may be closed in my life.  All of the equipment still stands and waits for me in my studio, it's tough to see it idle.  The last 50 lb. box of clay still  lays unopened on the floor.  And to be honest, my hands ache with the thought of those years of sanding I did, knuckles unable to bend with pain and stiffness at the end of each day.  Every gentle, little, sculpted face took many hours of hard, hard work to smooth to perfection between the bisque firing and the final firing, and the paint fumes left me dizzy after weeks of meticulous painting.  So sad to let my career go, but it's not the first time I've transitioned to another art form, and the painting, writing and illustrating I've been doing this last year or so have been like coming home again, as that's where I started so long ago.  

And just as I was struggling these last weeks with decisions regarding my studio, my sweet husband confesses his decision to avoid studio photography altogether.  His suggestion?  That I convert that old TV room space into a studio for my writing and painting.  Yeah, I know... PINCH ME!!  

It's amazing how beautiful the view of the garden and the bay is out the window when you fling the shades open!  I've ordered a drafting table that will arrive within a week or so.  The couch will have to go before that happens, but I've already starting sketching a series of transition pictures, the first I'll scan and post in the next couple days.  

We'll see what this new chapter in life brings!  Thank you all for helping me move through this change, I've gone from denial, to acceptance to celebration....   and I'm sure you all knew what was going on before I did.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Queen Anne

Having gotten a great price for tickets to see the King Tut exhibit in Seattle, Jim and I decided to take the opportunity to stay for a couple days with friends in the Queen Anne area.  They had been friends for many years with Jim and his deceased wife, Suzanne, and have now become my friends, too.  Their condo was very nice, and had a peek-a-boo view of Puget Sound from their front windows and deck.  Sadly, demolition of a house across the street and impending commercial construction on that site will no doubt swallow that view forever.  Progress.  The mysterious, large, Rubbermaid UFO in the construction zone had vanished by the time we returned in the evening.  I see the wisdom of the aliens molding their vehicles out of heavy rubber, in case their GPS fails them.   

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Pewter Cat Dreams

During the reception at Jim's and my wedding recently, our friend Marian was visited by our cat Duchess as she sat in one of our tub chairs.  Jim had taken a photo of that moment, and it was such a sweet pose, it inspired me to do this sketch.