Sunday, November 30, 2008

Failed Experiment

A friend's daughter came to work the other day and waited for her mom to take her to dance lessons. I got her to give me some dancer poses (hilarious!) but most liked the one where she made a turn, pulled her skirt up, and waited for me to tell her what to do next. This one WILL be done again -- maybe in pastel or colored pencil or even watercolor.

This was where I started -- watercolor plopped down on Bristol. I really thought I would be able to get more detail and a better quality of shading with graphite over this, but it just didn't work like I'd planned. I went back in a time or two with a wet brush to lift a thing here and there, and to put in a little more color here and there, and was surprised to find that the graphite smeared. Ooops.

Oh well. Lesson learned!

AND I just realized, today is the last day of NaBloPoMo, and I made it! (I think -- I'll have to go back and check.) December starts tomorrow -- what shall THAT month bring, I wonder?
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Well, after a few days of rain and cold, it was kind of nice to think about warm sunshine. Never happy, am I!?

So... now I'm wondering about throwing down some ink lines, and now that I see it up on the screen, I know I need to add a touch of dark to close off those light lines in the underside of the sunbrella. Hmmmm. That's what happens when something sits for a day or two around here.

By the way, here is the reference photo. I snapped the pic without pausing as I was walking into the restaurant -- hence the odd angles...
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(P.S. I remember that I promised two drawings. The second one is still underway, since we spent the ENTIRE DAY Christmas shopping. I'm trying watercolor on Bristol with graphite over it, so I'm not sure how the experiment will turn out. We shall see...)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Gremlins in the Machine

I don't know what's up, but we seem to be having major internet issues at our house. This is worse than the days of dial up -- hopefully it will be fixed soon. But no pics tonight, folks ... see you tomorrow, and there will be TWO sketches, I guess. I promise! Uh, hopefully. Yikes.

(I see an error that says 'Saving and publishing may fail. Retrying...' YIKES.)

Friday, November 28, 2008

Black Friday

Black Friday and everybody is packed into the stores. I NEVER do the "shopping thing" on the Friday after Thanksgiving ... one of these days I may have to try it.

On the way to one of the buildings this afternoon I stopped by a music store, just to browse around for a minute, since I was feeling a little left out of the action. I picked up a book of music to goof around with and plunked around on a few pianos for a minute. Note to self: If I ever win the big jackpot lottery, a 9' concert grand goes on the wish list. Yep.

So. Who found really great bargains today?
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Home for Thanksgiving

Big Sister...

... Little Sister ...

...and leaves. Sometimes an interesting combination!

And if you look closely at the next photo, you may see some escapees on the hillside ...

Listen ... (gobble, gobble, gobble...) ... See up on the hill there? There is an entire flock of them just over the rise ...

Hope YOUR turkey didn't get away from you today! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

(Shannon -- we missed you honey! See you at Christmas! Love, Mom)
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Do you ever pick up a book, planning just to read for a few minutes, and then realize that you've spent the entire evening enchanted and have, therefore, accomplished nothing at all?

Okay, so, so far the book Ireland by Frank Delaney is wonderful. There's nothing like a great story-teller.

'Nuff said. Happy Holidays, everybody!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

No Cranberries Were Harmed

... in the making of this sketch. But I'm fixing to crush the you-know-what out of them for the cranberry mold. Everybody has their own version, but mine is cranberries, celery, sugar, orange peel, apples, pecans, pineapple, and enough Jell-O to hold it all together.

Thanksgiving -- the one time of the year when it is still OKAY to eat Jell-O. At least it is at my house.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

NOT a Cactus IS, however, a succulent. I just don't know what KIND of succulent, just that it was a cute little plant with pretty little cerulean and pink leaves and only cost a couple of bucks. I forgot about it for a while -- lucky for me it doesn't need much water. What do I mean lucky for me? Lucky for IT ...
This is in honor of Cactus Monday and Teri (The Queen of the Cacti) and all the other Cactuteers...Cactuseers...Cactiteers... I don't remember what they're called! One of these days I'll find a real cactus to draw on Monday...
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Sunday, November 23, 2008


I just finished my final day of Tai Chi for Arthritis Instructor training, and it's official. I can teach now. I was exhausted and sore last night, but felt good this morning -- then this afternoon hit a total low point, but got my second wind in time to finish up the day.

Several of the students were REAL martial arts people, and one of them specializes in breaking things. So, after the class was over, he set up and gave us all a demonstration where he broke a CAST IRON PUMP HANDLE with his bare hand. HIS BARE HAND.

I'd never seen anything like it before, other than on TV. I'll confess that I've always secretly doubted that people REALLY did this kind of thing. I doubt no longer. It just takes a minute -- watch this...

Billey Breaking Iron Pump Handle from Linda M on Vimeo.

... and don't think that I'm doing anything at all like this. NOT AT ALL.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Tired Chi

I've been in Tai Chi for Arthritis instructor training all day long today. In the last fifteen minutes of the class, a variation of the series was introduced -- and we have to lead class tomorrow! I've taken a hot soak (my poor muscles) and now have to practice ... Drawing will have to wait.

Just in case you are interested -- here's a bit of a video of the style I'm learning to teach. The knee bends are not as deep as in other schools, and each step is followed by another step in, so that there is more of an emphasis on agility rather than holding deep, wide stances. It makes it easier on the older individual. It makes it easier on the younger individual, for that matter. It doesn't matter how young or old you are though, if you do it for 8 hours and aren't used to it, you get a little bit sore. :-)


Oh wait ... that's yoga. What DO they say in the Tai Chi world?

Who knows ... let's pretend ...

Kung Pow! (See you tomorrow!)

Friday, November 21, 2008


By this time I'm sure that most, if not all, of you know about our fellow artist Cindy Woods, who just entered hospice care the other day. Just as I was going to post this, I clicked over to her blog and saw that she left us today.
I've always been a huge fan Cin's work, and feel a special attachment to her drawings of the people around her -- she and I spend our time in very similar environments, and I love how her portraits look beyond what most people see and show a great deal of love and humor and wonderful spirit.
This one is for you Cin. I've loved "meeting" your friends through your drawings, and especially your Annie. This is my Lil.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Random Acts

I had the day off work today because I have to do work stuff all this weekend. Well, I kind of had the day off work. I didn't go into work, and didn't paid to work, although I did set up the computer on the dining room table, check the financials for two buildings for the day, update schedules for two buildings for the day, do a conference call, call both buildings, receive three calls about sicknesses and scheduling, over the course of the day received about eight more calls about scheduling and patient questions and billing questions and family questions and friendly venting about co-workers... anyway. You get the picture. This is what my days off are like during the week.

Which means I didn't get to do many of the things I'd planned on doing*, but one of my top things on my list today was to take photos of this really neat little old motor court that I pass regularly on the way to work. The morning light is usually just perfect for what I was after, and the day was clear, so off I went to get the shots. I DID get my main shot from the main highway as I approached (painting to come later, in the style of The Diner), but really wanted to sneak into the place and photograph those great shadows. Unfortunately, as soon as I made the turn, camera poised over the steering wheel as I drove, I got busted by the caretaker. BUSTED. He looked up and saw me and started walking over as soon as I turned in. It wasn't until that very minute that I realized that having someone taking photos of the outside of what just might be the no-tell-motel could be bad for business. So, as he came toward me, I stowed that camera real fast, smiled and waved at the same time that I reversed the car and pulled back out onto the highway. I guess I convinced him that I'd just pulled into the wrong place because he smiled and waved back. Rats.

So. What's my point? No point at all. Just RANDOM. And Diahn says all that needs to be said about WONDERFUL TRUE RANDOM ACTS on her blog today. I'm just going to shut up now and let you go visit her for the rest.

I'll do something nice for someone tomorrow.

(* Not only was I going to do the under drawing for THREE big watercolors, I was going to CHEAT and do a bunch of sketches in advance for the weekend, since I'll be tied up working. Never got to pick up pencil, pen, or brush. At least not for art. I did get to go shop for new tennis shoes and work-out clothes for my work this weekend -- I LOVE my job -- tennies are a fact of life, and sweat pants often are, too -- but I didn't get to go shop for the Thanksgiving supplies I needed or for D's Christmas present as planned. I did get the guest bedroom halfway cleaned up and laundry halfway done and supper cooked, but the rest of the house looks like it may have recently been burglarized and that the burglars tracked in loads of cat hair. Shame on them. Oh well. There's always tomorrow...)
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Something Red

This weekend I cut loose and painted something red. Yes, it really is that bright. (This is just a piece of the piece... long story). How did I get a red THAT intense? I'm not sure, but am going to be trying to do it again. Wish me luck.
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Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Long day at work today, but fun. It started out early, at the crack of dawn, and ended well after dark. We had a special dinner for our patients and their families tonight, and the department heads all stayed late to serve. Don't tell anybody this, but I had a good time...

Sleep tight, everybody. And tomorrow sit down with your family or friends or somebody and spend just a little extra time with them. That's really what it's all about.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

The Wall

In my painting spot, I have several large pieces of foam core board that I use for my "gallery wall". With all the little paintings I've done lately, it has gotten FULL So, tonight I get to clean it all off and get ready to start over again.

I was able to stick the paintings on paper into an Itoya portfolio, but what about the stuff on the clayboard? I was just goofing around and accidentally put some of them together like this, which gave me an idea that maybe should have been kind of obvious all along ...
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Sunday, November 16, 2008


This one actually goes with this one and this one. Fun to do just shapes and patterns rather than detail.

We went to the Foothills Craft Guild show at the Jacobs Building in Knoxville today. I have to say, it was hand down the best arts and craft show that I've ever been to. Everything was of exceptionally high quality, the vendors were great, the venue was just the right size ... perfect. Bob Meadows, my favorite bookbinder and friend from watercolor class, was there with his amazing books. I won a door prize, which let me pick an item from a table full of donated items, and I picked -- you guessed it -- a book by Bob!

It was a nice day.

It is getting cold here. Stay warm and dry everyone.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Last Leaves

Brrrrr! Yesterday was warm-ish and drizzly, with fog lasting all day long, even through the noon hour. Last night and today, the winds blew the fog away and brought in heavier rain and, finally, colder weather! The leaves in our yard dropped all at once last night. I hope D is going to get out there and rake them up tomorrow! (Well, okay, I'll help, too... )

This little bit was from a photo that someone in WC class had of the Rockies and the gold leaves. I really liked the light and dark patterns, and didn't worry too much about the exact shape. Yep. Aren't those happy little clouds?

(Note -- this is NOT from the reference photo I mentioned in yesterday's post. I decided to go ahead and work small again today, since the cold wet weather made me not want to drag a bunch of big stuff to and from class. L-A-Z-Y.)

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Saved by the Sketch Part 2

If I'm reading it right, this (above) would be Teri's suggestion for a crop, and the one below is Jim's suggestion. StevieWren thought that the banners helped give it interest, while Diahn also agreed that the angles on things tended to point one out of the picture while the leaves and banners brought the eye back inwards -- so that would explain that. Hmmm... Does this look or sound right, guys?

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Saved by the Sketch

I snapped this photo a few weekends ago, thinking that it might be a nice reference for a painting.

Tonight I'm gathering things together for WC class tomorrow, and thought I might bring this one along to work on. So, I did a rough little watercolor and pen & ink sketch to map it out. I really didn't want the branches in the foreground, and wanted to leave out the tent and the signs.

Well -- this is a prime example of why preliminary or value sketches can be important -- especially if you're messing around with your references!
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See. It just doesn't really work. There's something there that still has possibility, but I have to fiddle with it lots more. I knew that leaving out the banners might be a composition issue (for some reason that I can't put my finger on -- composition is my weak point, and I have the hardest time explaining WHY I feel like something does or does not work.) -- but I didn't DREAM that leaving out the branches in the foreground would make that roof look so ... so ... big. Huge. And I even tried to kind of squish it and make it smaller than is in the photo. It still takes up a fourth of the page! What the heck was I thinking? And the background - well I'm thinking it should almost be blank. I had thought that the dark bit on the right would balance out the gigantic roof, but I was wrong. And I didn't preserve a nice white sunlit pattern on the figures and the umbrellas on the deck, so they look like they're sitting in under an overcast sky and it is rather depressing. Still -- the figures and umbrellas... there has to be something that can be done one day with this.

What do you guys think?

Maybe something like this... But still with something more interesting on the roof and deck railing.

Meanwhile, I'm pretty sure that I have decided on something else entirely different to work on tomorrow. And since I took a pretty good reference photo to begin with for IT, there shouldn't be quite the problems that there are with this one.

P.S. Here's a little reminder -- I used a dip pen over the watercolor, but the went back into a couple of places with a little more color. THAT'S when I discovered that I hadn't used waterproof ink. Hence the ugly black blob at the end of the deck...

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Uh Oh

Um, I know it is NaBloPoMo* and I'm supposed to post something every day, but I haven't got a thing to talk about. Um, nothing.

Oh, I could tell you about being on iTunes and finding a duet sang by Luciano Pavarotti and Jon Bon Jovi ... who could possibly pass THAT up? (It's actually not bad at all...)

It's getting really pitiful around here tonight. See you all tomorrow!

(*I believe we are actually EXPECTED to have one senseless, bandwidth-burning-for-no-good-reason post every 12 days. It's in the fine print of the NaBloPoMo rules, I think... Or if not, it should be. Let's take a vote. Wait, no, we've had enough voting for a while. Let's just smile and pretend it is so.)

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Veterans Day Two

Well, THIS was supposed to be the painting for yesterday, being Veteran's Day and there being a flag and all. But, yesterday evening it got dark and a bit cold and then it rained. And I got very sleepy. And so I didn't do the little painting until tonight.

I'd forgotten how tricky painting on Bristol is! I didn't want to add any ink at all, but ended up having to use white acrylic ink for the white stars and then a couple of little lines ... okay, three other little lines. But I avoided the black ink entirely. There are places that might have been better served with some ink work. But maybe not.

Even though it is mid-November, many of our trees here still have many of their leaves. Because we've had several dry years, I really expected that this would be a dull autumn. It has been anything but dull! The leaves started changing late, then the colors have been incredibly vibrant, and have held for a long time. And I'm loving it.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In Honor

I'm lucky that I in my work I get to hear so many stories about the past. I've not only heard stories from our veterans from WWII and Korea, but from WWI, although that was a good many years ago. Even more than those, I've heard the stories of the wives and sisters and families of our veterans -- the families who also, in their quiet way, sacrifice for our country.

In Honor of you all.
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Monday, November 10, 2008

Somewhere Other Than Here

From a photo -- I have no idea where this is, but fountains always remind me of Laura! I don't know how she paints them so well, but she is the Queen of Aqua, the Duchess of Damp, the Mistress of the Dancing Waters... :-D

I'm in the mood for ink and landscapes all of a sudden (where did THAT come from?), but am going to have to tear up some different paper! This 300# watercolor paper ruined 2 pens within moments. I know there's some Bristol around here somewhere... I think I'll get some together and get my little "car kit" ready.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008


Have you ever noticed how ridiculously green a good green pepper is? I'm not patient enough tonight to paint it properly. Maybe tomorrow. It won't last longer than that, as it is planned for dinner one evening, chopped up and sauteed with onion, then added to pulled roasted chicken and simmered in a few spoonfuls of Goya Sofrito to be served over yellow rice with black beans. Comfort food for cold weather.
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