Monday, December 31, 2007

2007 Review


It's hard to believe that it's already time to close out the year. Where did it go?

Last year, Diahn and I met up to set some serious art goals. Throughout the year, we kept up with each other, reviewing our goals regularly (until the last third of the year, when other things in life overtook us...), encouraging each other, and just generally making ourselves accountable.

It worked. NEVER underestimate the power of firmly setting your mind on accomplishing something!

So, here's how it went... 2007 Goals are in RED

1) PROJECT -- 500 Objects. I don't know why 500, it just sounded like a good number. I will be drawing 500 objects over the next year and a half or so. ...PURPOSE of this goal -- to improve my drawing, painting, and seeing --... It is something that MUST be done ...
Yikes. I have a lot of work to do if I'm going to do 480 more drawings in the next six months. I think 500 was just too big a number to wrap my mind around. I got REALLY bored with this goal! The purpose of the goal was GOOD, though, and I'm going to continue to work to improve my drawing with a more, um, "do-able" goal in 2008! Still ... the "500 Objects" Moleskine is there, and I'll keep adding to it. ;-)

(2) I will be working more in pastels.
Kind of vague, isn't it! Still, it got me motivated to work in pastels, take some workshops, rearrange my space, stretch my boundaries. This year I turned out one of the best pastel pieces I've ever done, in my opinion, and I got to give it to my sister for Christmas this year. The goal, although not specific, was the right kind of goal to set for me in this case -- just enough of a nudge to get me started dabbling. A more specific pastel goal will be here in 2008!

(3) I'd like to take an art workshop sometime this year ... I don't know where or in what, but something as a little treat.
This one cracks me up! "Little treat" indeed! I took a workshop in figure drawing early in the year, and several workshops in pastel that made a huge impact on my ability to "see" value and light. Along the way I met new artist friends and gained great new insights. I'm scheduled for another weekend workshop in February, and am considering a weekend oil painting workshop this upcoming year ... we'll see! Still, who would thought that taking a workshop would be something that you need to set a goal for? For me, I HAD to. Work gets hectic sometimes. Sometimes I get a little bit settled and lazy. I'm a procrastinator and will do that thing that procrastinators do. (I'll just do it later...) Now, however, I'm hooked on getting together with a group of people and learning something new in a small, fun, weekend environment. Absolutely HOOKED.

(4) I WILL be hanging art for sale at the gallery at the art center. Period. I'm running out of room here...
See, now THAT'S a goal. See the emphasis -- the finality -- the certainty? And it happened! I had work in two different shows at the art center this year. One of the shows was juried and I was very honored to not only have three pieces accepted, but to receive an award for one of them. To prepare for the shows, I took the work to a gallery / framery to be framed, and when the opportunity presented itself, I WAS PREPARED TO SELL MYSELF to the gallery owner. I had been presented with a similar opportunity at another gallery a year earlier, and had let it slide. Why? Because my mind wasn't in the right place at that time. This time, I ended up having several pieces shown at the gallery, and not only sold my first painting, but sold my first limited edition print. Wow. I'm so very thankful to Debi and Mary and all the rest at The Town Framery for their support! They are so wonderful to work with! Next year? I've got notes about joining another local art association that holds a couple of open shows. More importantly, I plan to look at my productivity for the gallery, and keep in better contact with them. I think I've slid there .... maybe I just wasn't prepared for "what comes next." Just goes to show -- if you set your sights on something and believe you're going to get there, you better have a back-up plan, just in case you make it!

P.S. Do you all remember the five year goal about going to the Galapagos? Well, I've worked very hard at learning to speak Spanish this year. It's going to take a while longer, I KNOW. Still, it's really important to me to know the language before we go there. This week I was helping D put together a new piece of computer equipment. I opened up the sheet of directions and had read about a third of the way down before I realized that I was reading the Spanish language side of the paper. It shocked me to think that I had read that far and hadn't noticed. Yeah ... the Galapagos are still in the plans. :-)

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Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Stuff to Try

Sigh. It's was a wonderful Christmas with a long, restful, yet unplanned blogging break. The break just happened -- well, that's not really true. I was cleaning my little study, which doubles as a second guest room if needed, and found a paper with a quote on it that really struck home to me. Of course I can't find the paper now -- I think I probably threw it away -- but it said something to the effect that the absolute greatest waste of time was to do something perfectly well and then find that you never had to do at all.

That quote kept popping into my head every time I'd find myself overstretching this holiday season. Normally I have a "Christmas meltdown" sometime before Christmas simply because I try to do too much -- most of my friends have the same problem. This year, however, I kept my focus. I decided it was going to be a smooth, relaxed, enjoyable Christmas, AND that work was going to be smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable, AND that I was going to do what I could to make it smooth, relaxed, and enjoyable for the people that I'm responsible for, too. In other words, I cut out all the unnecessary stuff. We had a good time and did it simply. The shopping was finished early -- packages were wrapped and mailed off in early December rather than at a the last minute. Cooking was kept to a minimum. If there was something that I had planned to do for the holidays but it felt like too much of a push to get it done -- well, we decided whether or not it was essential (usually NOT) and if not, we just DIDN'T DO IT.

As a result, other than missing the family members who were out of town, we had as perfect a Christmas as I had hoped for. We even managed to pull off the First Annual Traditional Christmas Eve Macaroni and Cheese Supper ... although, unfortunately, the Second Annual Traditional All-Girl's Christmas Poker Tournament was cancelled due to shopping and hanging out talking instead of playing cards. That was okay, though. We hung out TOGETHER, which was really the point after all.

Unfortunately, my daily drawing and posting here got slid over onto the list of non-essential items. I simply couldn't fit it in and get the Christmas that I wanted. So I didn't do it. So there. I haven't really checked e-mail too much in about three weeks. I haven't surfed other people's blogs. I haven't surfed the internet much at all.

I've spent the last week "cleaning up 2007" at home and at work. The plan is to have all stacks of paperwork type stuff, magazines, and general junk cleared out and gone by Dec 31 (done! as of last night!). I want to have my painting area cleared up and organized by Dec 31 (yikes! not started yet...). I want my desk at work cleaned and caught up by Dec 31 (about three quarters of they way done, and the plans are to finish Monday!) Hopefully I'll be able to start 2008 with a CLEAN slate. Hopefully! :-)

It was a good break. BUT -- I missed everyone and am ready to come back and get back to art! I feel re-energized by the break. Tomorrow I'll be looking at last year's goals, and how they worked out, or how they fizzled by the wayside and WHY. The day after tomorrow, on New Year's Day, Diahn and I meet for our "2008 Strategic Planning, Goal Setting, Coffee Drinking, and Bagel Eating Workshop" -- or something like that -- and I'll have new goals for 2008 then!!!

Oh, and see what I got (above)? A new set of DaVinci Gouache tube paints -- specifically to use in the Moleskine (which handles it perfectly!) Yep. There are Moleskine plans for 2008 ...

Woo hoo!

I hope everyone else had a wonderful holiday season!

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Sunday, December 09, 2007

Catching Up

I went missing for a few days there without a word, didn't I!

It's been busy at work, at home, everywhere I go. I decided that the thing to do was just roll with it, putting down the things that weren't necessary for the moment and NOT getting behind right now. Instead I FOCUSED on getting work caught up and in order, Christmas shopping is very nearly done, and packages are mailed out already. That's a record for me -- so woo hoo!

I'm cleaning house now, and it's just sad. This last year I've been fairly intent on art, and when I stop to really clean, it shows that my poor house has been neglected. Gotta put something about that in the 2008 New Year Resolutions... either that or find an extra job so I can hire a maid ...

Here's a quick colored pen sketch of a poinsettia. It can be Thursday's drawing -- I'll catch up on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (today) tonight and tomorrow!
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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Italian Christmas

"I Want A Hippopotamus for Christmas" is the BEST Christmas song ever, but you can also go HERE for one of the other top ten greatest Christmas songs of all time...

A special Buon Natale to Bonny !

And, despite the fun, special thoughts and prayers to the folks in Omaha tonight.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday Treat

Oh yeah ... it's that time of year when D starts bringing home chocolate. Boxes of candy, bags of cookies, plates of fudge. Does he eat it? No. (Sigh.)

It's been a busy, busy day and evening, and tonight I'm finishing some work and getting ready for a continuing ed course all day tomorrow in Therapeutic Yoga. I suppose I should try not to be all stressed out for that one, right?

So, for a CALORIE FREE TREAT to you all -- Click HERE for a YouTube video of one of my favorite oil painters, Karin Jurick, hard at work. It's about 10 minutes long, but absolutely amazing (and has Dean Martin music, too!) Give yourself the gift of watching this and going by her blog to see her awesome work.

I'll post a drawing / painting tomorrow! I really have to get back to work now, though!

What I did Christmas-y today: well, it's a secret. Yep. A big ole' secret.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Monday Mug

Marta is doing a series of mugs this month, and I thought I'd do at least one this year. This is a mug from my favorite Christmas dishes. I'm trying the watercolor and Verithin CP, this time leaving the mug like this (below)...

... and doing the pattern and design with the colored pencil. The Verithins just don't stand up that well on their own, although the indigo did better than the other colors. I ended up adding red, gold, and green WC and then refining with the pencils. I also hurried to finish because, darn it, my coffee was getting cold! It was supposed to be a fast sketch, after all!

And HERE is the famous four-foot tall inflatable -- did I mention that it lights up? -- snowman. Doug joked and joked last year about getting one of those blow up snow globes for the front yard. My sister and I began to get the sneaking suspicion that he really LIKES them -- you'd have to know him -- a great big kid! So, this year at Thanksgiving, she gave him his Christmas present early. We put it up Saturday and he hasn't been deflated since. The snowman, that is. At Sam's on Sunday, Doug stood in open mouthed AWE at a 15' long inflatable Santa train with lights AND MUSIC. No way. I mean it. NO WAY!!!!

Christmas things I did today -- (1) Unpacked the Christmas mugs!, (2) brought a wreath to work to hang in rehab, (3) brought another wreath to work to hang in a resident's room, (4) hung some stockings and decorations on some bulletin boards, and (5) didn't blow my horn and make mean faces at that guy in the huge white pickup truck who cut me off on the highway this evening.

And if you want to listen to some Christmas music, you can go here! :-)

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Sunday, December 02, 2007


Hey -- I think I found my groove. It occurred to me last night that I was loving painting little stuff on the smooth Bristol, so why wasn't I using it for a full size piece? So, while washes dried on the front porch painting I started this from a photo I took in Seaside, Florida this summer. Eventually I gave in, clicked onto Sammy Hagar and the Wabos Livin' it Up album on the iPod, and painted this, dancing all the while. It was so much fun -- I just can't tell what a good time I had with it. This morning I was afraid to look at it, thinking I would totally hate it, but I'm still happy with it. Yay! I LOVE this paper!

The paper corrects easily, too. This morning I realized I'd made the roof vents -- or whatever these are -- too wide.

So this afternoon I fixed them. Not a problem at all.

I just love the puddles, too. The paint misbehaves so beautifully.
Now, to decide whether or not to use colored pencil on this to do some refining...

My Christmas thing to do today (other than shopping!) was to hang the wreath on the front door. See the accidental self portrait in the glass? ;-D

Tomorrow I'll show you the four foot inflatable snowman. Believe me, it's better than the 15' long lit inflatable Christmas train that plays music ... I escaped THAT one!
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Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hallah Art

I got this Christmas ornament today at a art and craft show here in Knoxville. The artist, Hallah John Paul Boltik, of, moved here after being in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina and the following flood. His stories were touching -- his spirit was great. It is one of those "non-coincidences" that he is the third person I've met this week who stayed in New Orleans during that time. All of them stayed because they felt they had to -- the first to care for an ailing relative, the second as an employee of a hospital who was required to stay with patients who could not be evacuated, and the third who stayed to help elderly neighbors who were unable to leave.

Non-coincidentally, I hadn't planned on being at the art fair. And, non-coincidentally, Hallah said something that helped coalesce some thoughts in my head. I'm going to paraphrase him, but he showed some of his art that he had found floating in the water in his flooded studio. (Because he paints on wood and varnishes heavily, some of his art survived the water well.) He said that in that type of crisis, you realize how unimportant art is. Of course, art is important, he added -- as art. But, he realized that the artwork itself -- well, if it had been a blizzard and freezing, his artwork would have been firewood -- and he would have been glad of it. I suppose that if it had been made of canvas, it might have become a tent, or used as a sign, or something else. You see where this goes? Art is not something to get all worked up about.

One of the other people I met talked about how she had lost things she'd been saving for a special occasion. Now she says she realizes every single day is a special occasion. Again -- there is the attitude of not getting worked up about STUFF and instead just enjoying it.

Oddly (or not) I had e-mailed Diahn earlier this week about 2008 art goals. Here is part of the e-mail:

"...And something about painting with more "joy" -- I mean, just think about that wonderful painting at the art center -- THAT was painted with some joy. ... I kind of start out painting with joy, and then choke. Gotta quit doing that."

This all started in early November with the aforementioned discussion about "content." We were privy to some professional art critiques, and while the judge did some valid critiques, several were not so much critiques as arrogant dismissive criticism and ... oh, I don't know. It was poorly done. There were some comments that were not at all "objective" but were just, well, mean. There was one comment in particular that made me so angry -- and I have no idea what the piece of art was or who the artist was, but the comment would have been completely devastating. As in, never paint again. It was THAT bad, and, I felt, done very unproffessionally. (Whew. I really wanted to get that off my chest.) Our real conversation, however, centered around his comments about artist's choice of subject matter. We couldn't figure out how one still life was "trite subject matter" and another was prize winning. We could understand compositional issues, execution, etc., but the CONTENT or subject was the issue .

Our conclusion was that content or subject matter is a very personal thing. You may see a portrait and see "just a child" and someone else see a poignant moment in childhood. Diahn finds landscapes kind of boring (I hope you don't mind that I tell on you, Di!) -- and the ones that make her yawn the most are the ones I find calming. One person may feel that a painting is incomplete without something alive somewhere in the painting -- the other person may find another presence intrusive. In short -- it just doesn't matter. You have to paint what you love. You have to paint what calls your name, whether it's realism or complete fantasy from your head. Listen to and learn from people's critiques about your composition, your technique, how you could express your vision more fully -- but just smile and nod and don't worry about it if they don't like WHAT you paint.

And I think you have to do it with some joy. Go visit Hallah. You'll smile.

Since I didn't get to go to watercolor class this morning, there isn't any poinsettia painting. Here's my first December drawing -- a 10 minute watercolor and colored pencil sketch of a little candy cane that I stuck in my back pocket at the art fair.

(You know how it is in December -- you just never know when you might need a candy cane. )

I'm loving doing these very fast little paintings with watercolor on Bristol smooth finish paper. The paint behaves in a ... wait a minute ... what I mean to say is that the paint totally MISbehaves and that makes it fun! I grabbed my colored pencils to define the shadow, and accidentally picked up Prismacolor Verithins, rather than the regular waxy colored pencil. WHAT a great difference! I'm going to be exploring this mix of mediums and some palette additions a whole lot more this month.

Now -- I promised myself that I got four hours today to work on the front porch painting ... I'm off to paint!

Woo hoo! It's December and countdown time!
P.S. What did you do Christmas-y today? I put my Santa picture on my phone for my wallpaper and put out a four foot inflatable snowman. (LOL -- there's a story to that!)

Friday, November 30, 2007

Almost December

This is something I started (and thought I finished) last year. When I pulled it out tonight, I realized how terrible the upper right flower was. I'd made it dark and fuzzy and kind of "backgroundish", but it was really horrible. This is better (believe it or not) after a lot of lifting and scrubbing and adding reds and trying to define that center a bit more. (note -- the scan is kind of garish, at least on my monitor...) I don't think it's really salvageable. But I remember how fun it was doing this really fast -- and I think I'm going to pick up a poinsettia for watercolor class tomorrow....

Happy NaBloPoMo to all who posted every day for the month of November! Happy NaNoWriMo to those of you who participated in that, and most especially to those of you who managed to complete 50,000 words! Maybe one day...

And I've enjoyed posting every day, even if it has been rather up-and-down with subject matter. You all can expect more frequent posts from me from now on, I think.
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Parental Guidance

Yep, we were disciplined in the olden days. And I see that it's still going on today!!!

(note: These are my sisters. I never needed this kind of discipline. Either that or I just ran faster...really.)

Wow. NaBloPoMo is nearly over. Wow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Winter Beach

I love the beach in the wintertime. Maybe even more than in the summer. There's just something about it. It's a good place to walk and put your thoughts together.

Earlier this month, after some rambling discussions with Diahn, I started to talk here about concept and the way it relates to how we make art, view art, judge art, appreciate art, etc. Of course, I never really got around to discussing it. Now the subject of concept and context have come up in this study of pain management for work. It seems like it's all trying to relate to something in my head, but it's just not coming together.

I hate it when that happens. I need a beach to walk along for a while.

Maybe a good night's sleep will do.

(And if you're interested in some not-all-that-light physical therapy style reading ... try this. No, really, don't -- I was just kidding...)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


This is a real sign, and is one of my favorites from the Harrison Mayes collection at the Appalachian Museum in Norris, Tennessee. See here for the very interesting story about this gentleman. And here is another blogger who posted about Harrison Mayes.

NOTE: P.A.E. stands for "Planetary Aviation Evangelist" (!! ;-)

One thing you have to say about this guy -- when he made a promise, he did his best to keep it.

(Sorry to be so brief -- I'm actually working on some real job stuff tonight. Sigh.)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Dragging Out the Favorites

When I hear this song I really start to get in the Christmas spirit. Everybody sing along now!

(This is a repeat showing of a previous Christmas illustration. I do believe it is going to a new home this year for Christmas. Yes, going to someone who really HAS always wanted a hippopotamus for Christmas...)
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

One Month and Counting

Do you realize that Christmas is ONE MONTH away? We started shopping today. It's always fun to shop for the nieces and nephews. This year we're really trying to find gifts that aren't extravagant and that they will really use and enjoy. Like makeup for the 9 year old. Yeah ... kind of like that ...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Saturday is All Right With Me

So, before leaving for watercolor class this morning I worked on Miss Vanilla Cupcake a bit. I had her really just perfect -- then accidentally overworked a bit. That's okay -- I'll scrub out a bit and get her fixed. Her right eye (viewer's left) needs the lid fixed, too. (A few of us could say the same thing about ourselves, I guess...)

Then, in watercolor class I worked from this photo I took earlier this year in one of those little beach towns on the Florida gulf coast: (If you would like to join me in painting from this photo -- come on along. The more the merrier! I'll put it up on Flickr, too.)

(Here's my start. I don't do much drawing -- just kind of jump in and go.)

And then, this evening, I couldn't stand it anymore. I pulled a photo from Wet Canvas and started playing with my new pastels. Here's the start...

And the midway point...
And where I'm ending up tonight. I think I've gone a little bit crazy with the golds and oranges here... they're just so darned PRETTY.

I'm using multi-media board (waterproof) primed with acrylic matte medium mixed with grit and tinted with acrylic. The nice thing about this surface is that if I decide I've really messed up, I can just run the pastel under the faucet and wash it away. I can also stop rinsing it off at a midway point, where there's kind of a ghost image left if I have the basics right and just want to do the colors differently. Kind of nice for someone who messes up as much as I do... ;-)

And I have to say -- maybe I was influenced to use all that orange after I took a break to watch the last quarter and FOUR overtime periods of the UT / UK game. GO VOLS!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Sorry -- the computer is acting up (I think I have it overloaded again) and I can't seem to get a picture to post. Tell you what -- I'll post 2 tomorrow. Hopefully. Either that, or I've got more problems than I realize ... :-O

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Well, I don't know who Kyle is, and I don't know what he sells other than mulch, but I loved his happy face signs when we saw them while driving around on country backroads this summer.

Happy Thanksgiving to everybody -- I hope every day gives you smiles and many things to be thankful for!

(and Mom, thanks for cooking such a great lunch. We ate pecan pie for supper tonight when we got home ... love you all!)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Christmas at Thanksgiving

Look at what was sitting on my front porch waiting on me when I got home from work today!!! Woo hoo! A new collection of pastels by Paul deMarrais. Aren't they beautiful?

They are so huge and creamy -- I love how they cover the paper. I just want to make marks with them. It doesn't have to be a painting or anything like that ... just making marks is fine.

You can visit him here:
Paul deMarrais and if you love pastels, you really need to give these a try.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Aw Nuts

We have lots (and lots) of really big trees in our yard, most of them some kind of nut tree -- oak, hickory, etc. There's also a large squirrel population, as you might imagine.
We noticed this weekend that, although the leaves are falling, there are NO nuts. None. Normally you can barely walk upright on the driveway by now because of all the acorns rolling around underfoot. Whether it is because of a freeze one night in early spring that killed a lot of new growth on trees, or because of an unusually dry summer, or both, or something else that we don't know about ... there doesn't seem to be any nuts. Maybe they just haven't fallen yet ... but I don't think so. It kind of makes me sad.
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Monday, November 19, 2007

Miss Vanilla Cupcake WIP

I started this watercolor a bit ago, and kind of lost interest in it. (Anybody remember Miss Vanilla Cupcake? It was more than just a bit ago -- it was in July!) This afternoon I decided to pick it back up again and see what might happen. All the white lines in the grass were masked out with blue masking fluid, so the first thing was to get that stuff off of there. I was a little worried that it had been on for too long, but it came off without a single problem. There's a bit of a mess in the grass, which I expected since the whole grass thing was an experiment, and I'm not sure what I think about it. There's a gaping hole in the left middle ground, and I'm not sure if I should fill it with cows (do you see the beginnings of the black cows behind her?) or with darker vegetation. Any ideas? And there's always the option of cropping the whole thing so that just the right half of the painting is left.

And, by the way, for you palette junkies, here is the clean -- well it was clean -- palette.
(P.S. I'm finally over the bug and plan on going to work tomorrow. Isn't THAT just the way things go -- you feel good enough to do something fun and you have to go to work. Well, all I have to say about that is thank goodness. Whew!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Ramble

Well, I'm still under the weather, but feeling better than I have for the past few days. Around noon today I started getting a bit antsy. D, who knows me best and could tell I was really and truly bored, drove me to Jerry's to pick up a jar of Gum Arabic and a couple of tubes of paint (sweet, isn't he?) and then stopped by Stir Fry Cafe, so he could run in and pick us up some spicy Thai soup and egg rolls. That short outing was enough for me, and I had to rest when we got home. But not for long, and I got back up long enough to watch the end of the Indianapolis game. (We Tennesseans love Indianapolis because they have Peyton Manning, our former UT quarterback. We have a really hard time with team loyalties when the Colts play the Titans.)

Playing with the paint swatches, I see that my WN Permanent Carmine (in a tint, not in masstone) DID look VERY close to Rose Madder Genuine. Actually, closer than any other color I've tried. Well, well, well. Now to experiment some with gum arabic. I think I need to also do a set of swatches on the actual watercolor paper that I most commonly use, too (Arches 300#HP).
(You can see in this picture how the Rose Madder is a little streaky -- it's that wonderful honey-like texture. It's also hard to tell from a scan and on a computer monitor exactly what these colors look like. To me, the monitor shifts them both to a bit bluer tint than I see in real life.)
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And, I don't know about you guys, but when I'm not feeling well, I fret about the strangest things as I'm drifting in and out of sleep. Like at about 4:30 this morning I realized I'd never wondered WHY Rhode Island is called Rhode ISLAND. What -- I'd never thought about it before -- why??? And, where did thought come from???? Anyway, a web search this afternoon (yes, it plagued me all day) revealed that the real name of the state is Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Did you Rhode Islanders know that?

You know how it goes with you're just casually surfing the web. Sometimes you get going in directions you never planned. It's my favorite part of surfing. Today I found this handy tip, just in case the power ever goes out for a long period of time and you really need to recharge your iPod:
How to Charge an iPod Using Electrolytes (e.g., Gatorade) and an Onion

or if you need to Power Your TV Using a AAA Battery


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Well, I missed the pastel workshop today, which was a real bummer. Hopefully Paul will do another one close by sometime again soon!

This evening I did finally get the watercolor palette refilled. Here's my basic layout...

I've been looking at Rose Madder Genuine, which I just love, but there are questions about it's use, since it is possibly a somewhat fugitive pigment. (Check HERE for, one of the very best references out there on the web.) I've never noticed a problem with it at all, but it's interesting to try to figure out a possible replacement. Who knows -- I may find something I like much better! Tonight, I put it next to Permanent Carmine, and was surprised to see how close the colors appeared. I'm looking forward to seeing the dried swatches in the morning light. I'm also thinking that using the Permanent Carmine with a little gum arabic would mimic that slippery, rootsy feel of Rose Madder. Nothing can mimic its scent (nice and earthy yet sweet -- my favorite watercolor perfume.)

(Feeling just a tad better. Now am on loverly meds. Whoopee.)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Simply Pitiful

Oh, for pity's sake. I stayed home from work all day today because I was sick, and totally wasted the day being sick. Don't you hate that feeling? There ought to at least be SOME perk for being home -- like being too sick to work, but not so sick that you can't kind of enjoy yourself. No such luck. I wanted to paint or draw or e-mail or something, and just can't.

This is my lifesaving drink of choice today, along with plain old water and the occasional glass of peach nectar (soothes the throat) -- add to the list Advil, Children's Benadryl (doesn't knock me out so badly), hot baths, hot soup, lots of fluids, sleep... And I STILL think I'm going to miss my pastel workshop tomorrow.


See you all tomorrow. Take your vitamins and stay healthy.
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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Not A Knock Knock

Shhhh. I'm still sick and feeling very sleepy. I tried to make it through work today, but ended up leaving early -- did a conference call from home and crashed. It doesn't look promising for work tomorrow, either. Rats. I'm too busy for this.
No picture today -- and I can't think of a knock knock joke. How about a Thanksgiving joke?

The Parrot

A young man named John received a parrot as a gift. The parrot had a bad attitude and an even worse vocabulary. Every word out of the bird's mouth was rude, obnoxious, and laced with profanity. John tried and tried to change the bird's attitude by consistently saying only polite words, playing soft music, and anything else he could think of to "cleanup" the bird' s vocabulary.

Finally, John was fed up, and he yelled at the parrot. The parrot yelled back. John shook the parrot, and the parrot got angrier and even ruder. John, in desperation, threw up his hands, grabbed the bird, and put him in the freezer.

For a few minutes, the parrot squawked and kicked and screamed. Then suddenly there was total quiet. Not a peep was heard for over a minute.

Fearing that he'd hurt the parrot, John quickly opened the door to the freezer.The parrot calmly stepped out onto John's outstretched arms and said to John, "I believe I may have offended you with my rude language and actions. I'm sincerely remorseful for my inappropriate transgressions and I fully intend to do everything I can to correct my rude and unforgivable behavior."

John was stunned at the change in the bird's attitude. Just as he was about to ask the parrot what had made such a dramatic change in his behavior, the bird continued, "May I ask what the turkey did?"

It's an old one, but it still cracks me up...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Church Skyline

Lately, whenever I drive past this church downtown (which is six days a week -- and that's twelve times a week...) I've felt like I needed to do a painting of it. Because it is up on a hill, it isn't overshadowed by the taller buildings in town. Architecturally, it rather dominates the skyline, I think. What do you think ... ?colored pencils on black paper? Ink and watercolor and colored pencils together? Hmmmm....

I'm not doing it tonight though. Woke up this morning with a sore throat. I leave the house early while D is still asleep, so it wasn't until I got to work and somebody said good morning to me that I realized I didn't have much of a voice. It's improved some as the day has progressed, but now he's not feeling so good either, so I think it is going to be a night spent wrapped up in a blanket on the sofa watching bad sitcoms. Yuk.

On the up side -- it's raining out there. Yay!
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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Dirty Job

Yep, it's a dirty job, but I had to do it. This is my watercolor palette. Normally, after I'm done with a painting, it gets sprayed down and the big mixing area gets wiped clean. Sometimes I run the whole thing under a gentle stream of tap water to clean the muddy surface of the dried pigments in the well. That's the nice thing about watercolor - you can put the paint in the wells and let it dry, and for the most part, you can re-wet it and use it as needed over and over .... and over .... and over... My palette hasn't been really cleaned out in one year and nine months. It took several bouts of soaking for thirty minutes and then scrubbing for thirty minutes last night to get it cleaned out. I took paper towels and palette knives to it. I took a fingernail brush to it. I even considered using a Dremel to get into the cracks the cracks. Tonight I worked on cleaning it up a little bit more. In the end, the tiny bits of paint left in the cracks got left, and it doesn't matter that it's stained green in places, because the green is going back there anyway.

Tomorrow, all fresh paint. It will be like starting all over.

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Value of Pink

I started this painting based on a great little photo a while back, mostly as an exercise in using the color red -- which then became pink -- (and then just kept going with it because the other thing I need to work on is finishing what I start!)
Anyway, the other day I realized that I really needed to work on values and hues, and was struggling with getting a good range of values in PINK. Kind of like I've struggled with getting a good range of values with YELLOW. Thinking I had this pretty much finished, I scanned it in. Then I changed the scanner settings to gray scale, and...

In grey-scale I could see that, while the values weren't quite as bad as I had originally thought, there were still some mistakes. Like the buds at the top left needed to have some lighter highlights, the open flower on the mid-left needed a better range to make it "turn" more ... and what in the world was that white speck??? Checking the color version -- there's a white speck there, too. Just a speck of unpainted white paper. ??? How did that happen?

So, I went back and made some corrections. The buds at the top were lightened as much as they could be ... I was afraid of scrubbing a hole right into the paper! (Oh, how I love my scrubbers...)

I learned:

(1) Always do a value sketch. Even if the photo looks good, still do a value sketch.

(2) I need to work more on pink ... and yellow ... just playing with value scales so I have more confidence and can use them loosely and with more spontaneity.

(3) I need to work on mixing greys and neutrals in a full range of values. I LOVE bright color, but a little goes a long way. There can be beautiful pure greys and neutrals, too...

(4) Review item #1 -- ALWAYS do a value sketch!

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Finished as far as I'm concerned. What was supposed to be a very fast painting became a great lesson instead. And that's alright. More than alright -- that's a good thing.
Did I mention that when I went to the bookstore the other day and picked up a Watercolor Magic magazine there was an article featuring a couple of paintings of hollyhocks by Robert O'Brien? I'd already nearly finished this by that time, and wished I'd seen the article first! So let's add lesson #5 -- Study your subject a little more closely.... (Do go look at his awesome paintings!)