Sunday, July 22, 2007

Captain Paul Dunn

First off, let me say that this is NOT a sad post. So please, don't think it is! I'll try to keep it brief, but I just have to write about this.

Today I got to attend a fireman's funeral. The fireman was Captain Paul W. Dunn, shown above with his wife Jan and their little dog Harvey. I took this photo of them just over two months ago, about the same time Paul, at the age of 70, went on medical leave from the fire department because of brain cancer that had progressed to the point where he could not work any longer. Since his diagnosis early this year, he and Jan have shared with us their courage in the face of fear, their joy in the face of sorrow, their ability to laugh and find the humor in life's sadder annoyances, and their very great faith and love. Over the past two days everyone has talked about Paul's good nature, even temper, great sense of humor, devotion to the department and to his family -- in other words, we all agreed that he was a good man.

Again, I don't want to get sappy --Paul wouldn't appreciate it at all! But today I got to attend a fireman's funeral. From what I witnessed over the past week or two, let me tell you all -- THERE is a fraternity. It's not just the stuff of movies -- it's real life. And I wondered, why ARE firemen like that? Then I thought about what they do for a living. Right off the top of my head, I can't think of any other occupation quite like the job of a fireman. They MUST become a team, a brotherhood -- their very lives depend on each other every single day that they go to work. And the honor that they bestow upon one of their own is something to see. I can't begin to describe the ceremony, but there was a 21-gun salute, a fly over by a local medial emergency helicopter, bagpipes and drums (including the solitary bagpiper who turned and walked away across the cemetery, still playing Amazing Grace), a last dispatch call to Paul on all emergency radios, sirens from fire trucks -- it just goes on. It was a beautiful memorial to a good man. It was a celebration of a good life.

So, this is to say "thank-you" to all the firemen, policemen, emergency workers, soldiers, and all the others who I can't think of to name, but who risk their own safety for the rest of us. We should say thank you more often. This is also to say "thank-you" to all the good nurses out there -- the oncology floor is a tough one and the nurses at St. Mary's were great. I know at least one of you readers out there is a pediatric oncology nurse (Marta!) and I don't know how you do it. Thank-you!

Again -- this isn't a sad post! It is a celebration! There will be some art coming along in the next few days.

But TODAY I got to attend a fireman's funeral.


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Saturday, July 14, 2007

EDM Challenge One Million and Six - Sky

Okay, it isn't really challenge 1,000,006, but it feels like I'm that far behind. I'd decided that I needed to get back into the habit of doing the Everyday Matters weekly challenges, and when Karen announced that this week's subject was "sky" it suited me fine!

This is from a photo taken during our most recent trip to Florida -- the cloud was forming and rising in the otherwise clear blue sky, and I took several photos of it with the idea that it might work into a painting. I'd already picked up a 24 x 12" canvas to try this on, thinking it would also be good practice with acrylic. I guess that means this meets two challenges for me -- the EDM "sky" challenge and my own personal "acrylic" challenge!

The bottom part isn't nearly finished, and I'm actually not sure the cloud part is done. Acrylics dry so darned fast that they're hard to blend, so I went and picked up some retarding medium today. Anybody know how well this stuff works, or have any suggestions for smoother blending? There are NO good acrylic books out there, at least not that I can find!

On a side note -- The show last night went great -- it was a lot of fun to see friends' work framed and hanging, and it was especially nice to meet several VERY talented artists from east Tennessee's Tri-Cities area. Scott, the manager from our local Jerry's Artarama, was at the show and Jerry's very kindly donated some FREE samples of art supplies AND a great door prize. (Hmmm.... I just realized I probably picked up a little free bottle of acrylic retarder at the show, yet I still went to Jerry's and bought a big bottle , stopping at the same time to say hi to Scott -- I guess that means that his marketing plan worked like a charm!)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007


One Saturday morning not too long ago, when I had finished a painting in watercolor class and had about 30 minutes worth of time left, the instructor suggested that I take a small piece of watercolor paper (a little larger than postcard size) and make a "monoprint" of sorts, pressing the paper into the wet mess in the middle of my palette. I did that, spritzed some water from a spray bottle onto it all, dragged the edge of another stiff piece of paper though some paint and scraped it along the painting, ending up with a, well, mess. It kind of looked like a lighthouse on a cliff to me, so I refined it a little bit, tossed it into my bag, and forgot all about it.

Tonight, while doing a little cleaning I ran across it, and decided to play around with colored pencil on it. Oh yeah, the word of the evening is "EUREKA!!" I'd played with colored pencil over watercolor before on cold press paper and on 90# hot press, and was never all that impressed. This is on 300# hot press, which has just enough soft tooth to remind me of Stonehenge paper, so the pencil goes on just perfectly. And while it is not strictly lighthouse-ish to the seasoned lighthouse keeper or collector (unplanned and just out of my head), it strikes me as a mighty fun way to spend a couple of hours with art supplies! It scanned fairly dark, and I never could get the color to adjust properly, so lighten it up in your mind, and you'll be on the right track. I do wish I'd scanned it before I did the color pencil work, just to show the difference.

I've finally started working on the painting of Miss Vanilla Cupcake, feeling my way along with composition and color. Right now I seem to be having a color crisis -- I can't decide which I really prefer -- glazing or mixing the colors on the palette and NOTHING seems to be turning out right whichever way I go. So, I'm going s-l-o-w-l-y!! Must be tough to have such terrible problems, huh? Yep. I'll tell you folks, I'm grateful every single day for my problems, 'cause they are few and the ones I have are small ones.

And, actually, life is going pretty good right now. We took down the art show the other day, and I have three more pieces going into another show that opens Friday. (I'll post photos!) A local shop is carrying one of my paintings now ("Other People's Stuff") and has started out with two copies of my Gossip print on commission. There are FOUR paintings on the drawing board in my room, and another pastel workshop with Paul DeMarrais is in the very near future. It's an interesting time! We'll see what the future has in store!

P.S. The thing that appears to be a small flag flying off of the top of the lighthouse is just a blob of paint. It makes the whole thing look a bit like a castle on the cliffs, rather than a lighthouse, doesn't it!? Well, it's just whatever you want it to be. Isn't that nice?


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Happy Fourth!

So, I'm working on a painting of a cow, of all things. We saw her just off a local rural interstate exit, and I just fell in love with her. (So sweet eyed and creamy white that I've even named her -- Miss Vanilla Cupcake -- although sometimes I call her Miss Vanilla Cream Tart -- at any rate there's a general name thing happening here between the two of us.)

Of course, I looked like a crazy person, out there in the middle of the country, climbing around in the weeds taking photos of COWS ... just waiting for somebody to come up and say, "What's the matter there, girlie? Ain't you never seen a cow before?"

And actually, I find that while I've seen plenty of cows, I've never actually SEEN one before trying to draw this one. What a skull these animals have! It's going to take a lot of sketching before I'm ready to paint. (Weirdly I begin to understand some artists' fascination with cows ...)

And click here for something REALLY special that I've saved to the Fourth of July holiday. Artists, you will love this video -- how a very very special woman uses her art in an amazing way.

And -- Diahn is on Moleskinerie! Wow, that girl gets around, doesn't she!

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