Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Breakfast

There are such a great number of things for which I am thankful this Thanksgiving.  Among the myriad of blessings, a lingering breakfast poolside of pumpkin pie and berries along with a nice black cup of Cuban coffee rates very high.  Add in my Bible and an art magazine along with that whipped cream and it made for a very special breakfast indeed.  Thank you, God, for all of your blessings!

That was yesterday.  I didn't mention that I wrapped up in a quilt and hugged my coffee - it was in the mid 50s.  Today it's headed toward 75 so we were out there in shorts.  Yesterday was a good day for cool weather - we went traipsing through the woods and brought home about 1/3 of a cord of wood for winter fires. I love it when we don't have to buy firewood - we spent only muscle power.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Studio Peek

 One of my favorite things to do besides looking at other peoples' artwork is looking at other peoples' studios.  With that in mind, I thought I'd let you peek into mine - well, a little corner of mine.
Here's the desk I paint on.  I gave up trying to keep it clean a long time ago, that was a battle simply not worth fighting.  Liquid acrylics dry really fast, so when I'm painting, it ain't over 'till it's over.  By then it's dried on all surfaces around me, too, i.e., wall, carpet, small children... you get the idea.
Because I carve woodblocks I need a place to create my prints where things are squared up.  I've laid the tape down so I can quickly align things when the paint is wet and I have to work fast.

Perhaps some of you have the same problem I have - lack of space.  My over-the-door shelves have helped a lot in that area for all my tiny bottles of liquid acrylics and inks.  Unlike my kitchen cupboard, I've got them all categorized into colors, neutrals, and type.
On the top shelf you can see a collection of my little purse sketchbooks.  They continue to be my idea-cookbooks and I pull them out now and then to spark creativity.
Now that I look closely, I see where that roll of 1" masking tape has been hiding.  Found ya!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Student Self Portrait

Last week I taught facial proportions and expressions to one of my youngest classes.  We also discussed putting things in with your self portrait that help express who you are, either in words or pictures. 
This is a self portrait one of my eleven year old students did.  Love, love it!
I particularly like the way she set herself apart from the background and worked with her negative space.  One talented girlie!
And who doesn't like ice cream, anyway?

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Here's a pretty big piece I did recently, which sold just today down at the gallery.  I think it was 20x24".  I call it Kaleidoscope, and wanted to demonstrate the wild, bright colors I can get using this medium.   Guess it's not too hard to see that I gravitate towards bright colors. You can also see a nice reflection of the sky in the upper right hand corner.  Hey, nobody said I had to be a great art photographer (although it would be very nice!)

The picture below is a cutaway to give an example of the detail.  This particular painting took me about eight separate settings to put together, mostly because I needed a 24 hour dry time between layering.  I'm glad it sold because I really love it and will like knowing that someone else will be enjoying it too.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Game of Life

Last night we pulled this good old classic.   Our 12 year old son smashed us with over a million dollars.  I pulled into the poor house with slightly less than $200,000 and a sketch of the game in pen and crayon.  Did it in my little Moleskin purse sketchpad; you can barely see the outline of the little sea turtle I did on the previous page. Nothing like those little plastic cars to make a person happy.  Anybody else remember these?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Proud (continued)

Okay, here's the entire picture.  It was important to me to have his face high up in the picture, with the hat going off the edges.  That helped give the feeling that he's  confidently looking down at you.


Here's a technical pen sketch I did of my son.  He popped on this hat I bought for the Renaissance Faire and looked so good that I took a pic of him.
When it comes to portraits, I am a basically impatient person.  What this means is that I'd rather dash it off quickly, capturing a mood or feeling rather than making an exact likeness.  This said, this sketch doesn't look a lot like my son; however, when I look at it, I feel as if I'm looking at him.  The reason for this is that I worked on catching the proud, self-assured look that my leader-son wears so easily.  I cropped it when I took the photo, but if you saw the entire picture, you'd see I jammed his head up into the upper righthand corner, and made it as if he was looking down at me.  At 6'4", he's ALWAYS looking down at me!  I'll take another picture of it to show you the entire page.
Yesterday I taught my youngest students about warm and cool colours.  While they were painting, I pulled this out of my purse and sloshed some paints down on this. As you can see, the pages are all wrinkled; that's because it's just a moleskin-type sketchpad that's really not made for liquid pigments.  No matter.  My purse sketchpads are the things dreams are made of.

Someone Else's Gourds

I love gourds.  I grow them, dry them, paint them, have my STUDENTS paint them.  Most people are like, 'What is THAT?'  They're gourds!  With delighted frisson I discovered these gourds in an Anthropology display window.  Guess I'm not the only one.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Greatest Generation - My Dad

My parents just celebrated their 68th anniversary!  Wow!  I've had some good talks with my Dad lately.  Like many WW2 vets, he almost never talks about the war, but I think he wanted to talk this time for two reasons.  One, they've walked through this with us through our sadness at losing two friends in THIS war; and two, because he's getting older, and really, finally, wants me to understand.  My parents are continually preparing us for their death in small ways.

My dad met my mother by tripping her in a roller rink.  A hot skater, he went all the way around before he came back to pick her up.  In more ways than one.  They dated for a couple weeks and he went straight into the army.  Continually writing letters back and forth, he came back on leave and they were married.  He'd sent her an engagement ring in the mail!  Back to the war.

He was in t 463rd AAA Automatic Weapons Battalion under General Patton.  His unit was shipped over the Atlantic in February in terrible weather.  He said just about everyone on the ship got sick, including the shipmen!  He admitted that he was fine, until he was in a lunch line and the guy in front of him turned around and threw up on his food tray!  Then he joined the rest.  Later they found that February is the absolute worst time of the year to cross the Atlantic.  Good start.  These were the beginning stages of the D-Day events.

He described places, times and operations.  He saw lots of carnage and killed many.  At one point their engineers set up a bridge and my dad, along with other men, were on it, holding it against the enemy.  He told me it was a pretty naked feeling to be standing on that bridge when the Luftwaffe came over in waves, strafing the bridge.  I guess he was in EXACTLY the right place, because he's alive!

They saw 144 days of continual combat in enemy territory.  My parents' first anniversary found him in heavy fighting.  I mentioned that, and he replied, "We didn't even THINK of those things - we just fought." You don't want to hear it all, just think Saving Private Ryan, he tells me.  He did have a special moment when General Patton himself spoke directly to him - he was driving a truck across a bridge, and, coming from the other direction in his usual position, STANDING in a truck, General Patton yelled at him, "BACK THAT TRUCK OFF THAT BRIDGE!!!"  He backed up.  Fast.  Dad waited as Patton and his entourage of trucks and tanks crossed the bridge for 15 minutes or more.

He participated in The Battle of the Bulge.  Fighting was never-ending.  Finally, after 144 days, they were told they could have two weeks' leave at a nearby resort in France.  They spent about three days there, then were all called back into action.  Again, they continued fighting in enemy territory for months, until the War ended.

He told me that the stone walls erected all over the countryside were the death of them.  Germans, who were already holding that ground, were behind them waiting, and there was no way to know who or what was behind them.  The stone walls, 100s of years old, were overgrown with trees and bushes, impossible to get through.  He said they finally just bombed them and made big holes through which to pass – still, they didn’t know what was behind them.  He told me they were issued “clickers” – you know – those little metal children’s toys shaped like a cricket that you would press to make a loud, irritating click.  This was one way they could identify friend or foe.

No wonder they call them "The Greatest Generation."  I do not in any way mean to make light of the war we're in right now - we've participated in that pain - but many more men were killed in WW2 each day than have been killed in this war, we heard 2,500 so far.  My parents knew unending amounts of people that died, and gave a LOT, as did many, many others from this generation.  When I think of their stories, I realize I don't even know what the word sacrifice means.

Dad, I salute you. 

If you are privileged to still have someone around that was in World War 2, show some interest in that time, hear a story, and thank him.
Here are my parents on their anniversary.  Oh, my goodness, I love these people!

Friday, November 4, 2011

My Piggy Partner

This is my new driving partner.  I'm thinking that I can drive in the HOV lane now...