Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Toys

 My husband and I used to play around cutting bottles and turning them into things like vases or lamps or other questionably useful items.  This was nearly 30 years ago so I guess we were into recycling long before it was popular!  lol

Well, we were given these beautiful blue wine bottles so we drug out the bottle cutter and I looked online for inspiration as to what to do with them.  I like the look of engraved glass so used an acid etch to put a design on some old bottles for practice but just didn't like the look of it and didn't think it would work on these blue bottles

I guess Santa knew that because I woke up on Christmas morning to find a huge box under the tree!  It had to be from Santa because my husband and I don't exchange gifts - we usually prefer to buy what we want when we want it so the box was a huge surprise!

In the box was a 245 piece rotary tool set with 2 rotary tools, a flexible shaft for detail work and every imaginable bit and doodad ever made for it.  I immediately grabbed up the diamond bits and started in on a beach scene on one of the bottles.  Remember, this is my first try at glass engraving so don't laugh too hard!  I'm told the glass is pretty forgiving so hope I can recover from any mistakes made!

The dolphin and the waves are patterns but the seagulls on the opposite side are free-hand and still in the process of being engraved.  I also plan to add another gull and maybe a lighthouse in the distance. 

What will I do with these bottles after I engrave them?  Hmmmm, I'm not really sure!  I've seen some lovely patio lights made from recycled wine bottles and also some wind chimes - I'm sure something will eventually come to me but if you have any suggestions, feel free to let me know!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas and New Year!  May all your dreams come true in 2014!

Saturday, December 7, 2013


We have some wonderful "neighbors" (about 3 or 4 miles away!) who very generously share their garden with us and we trade various flower and vegetable plants with them.  The wife especially likes margaritas so I bought some inexpensive glasses and painted some Mexican designs on them.  We're going to get a bottle of margarita mix and give it to them along with the glasses for Christmas.  I hope they like them.

It was really difficult painting these small graphics and I was so frustrated by the time I finished, that I went to my optometrist's office and ordered a pair of bifocal eyeglasses!  It's been over 2 months since I was able to see everything clearly and I was so tired of it all that I just sort of snapped.  I have an appointment with the surgeon to have a stitch removed this coming week and still have another follow-up appointment with my optometrist in January and I just couldn't bear to wait any longer to see well.  Even if I need to take another route to see effectively, I wanted the glasses for the interim.  They should arrive next week and I will be so glad.  I was looking forward to not wearing glasses at all and my distance vision in one eye is 20/20 so I know I shouldn't complain at all.  And there still may be something I can do so glasses aren't needed but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it!

Anyway, still not doing any actual paintings but hope to be able to do something in the coming weeks.  I'll keep ya posted!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fried Green Tomatoes

I think I told you that we had a volunteer tomato plant loaded with green tomatoes when frost was expected.  We harvested all the tomatoes right before we got a killing frost.  Some of the tomatoes went ahead and ripened and some I used green for an old Southern favorite - Fried Green Tomatoes and one of my favorite foods.

I don't indulge very often even though I use healthy oils to fry in.  My OH doesn't care for them and that's another reason I don't fix them that often.  But since I had several tomatoes that would ripen before we could eat them, I decided to fix this simple delicacy.  They were delicious!

Unfortunately, the frost has killed off or put most of our plants into hibernation.  We still have rutabagas, arugula, parsley, spinach and cilantro in the garden and it's great having fresh produce this late in the season.  It's been a very cold fall this year and I don't know how much longer even our cold weather plants will survive. 

No art has been done by me for a very long time as I still don't have really good close vision.  Fortunately, I have an appointment with my doctor tomorrow and he'll see if my vision has stabilized enough to prescribe glasses or a contact lens.  He had said he'd give me a trial contact lens to see if I could adapt to monovision so I'm really psyched to try it.  If it works at all, I'll try to paint something soon!  Of course, we have to get through Thanksgiving first!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

FedEx Update and Painting Attempt

Just wanted to let you know that FedEx delivered my package yesterday and the young driver apologized for not getting it to me the day before.  I didn't even say anything about it when he told me he'd had the package then got a long way away from our house before he realized he hadn't delivered it and since it was so late he decided to deliver it the next day.  It was nice of him to apologize but it didn't make me think any better of FedEx as a delivery company. 

I told him I wasn't a happy camper about it especially after seeing the tracking update about not being home or the business being closed.  He said that was a sort of catch-all box to check when there were extenuating circumstances.  Hmmm, was still a lie, don't ya think?

But, good news.  I've been trying to paint in spite of not being able to see well up close yet.  I had cataract surgery on both eyes but I'm told it may take a while for the eyes to adjust to seeing both close up and at a distance.  I found a blog online where a guy with pretty much the same circumstances as mine had surgery a couple of years ago and who detailed some of the results and some of the things he found out.

I thought the way I see now was the final result but there's a good chance my eyes will continue to improve.  Or maybe I should say that my sight may continue to improve.  Sometimes the brain compensates for the uneven vision and actually adjusts to see things the way they're supposed to be seen.  Unfortunately, it can take months.  Fortunately, I can wear reading glasses if I really need to but, according to that blogger, the more I try to read or do close work without them, the more my vision is being "trained".  I also have a progress check at my optometrist on Monday and can see if things are heading toward improvement.

But, back to the painting.  I did paint this with the help of some reading glasses but even then couldn't see to do some of the really small details.  My husband and a good friend both said (at different times) that the painting looked "patchy" but I didn't know exactly how to fix it.  I did work on it a bit more and my husband said it looked much better but he may have been trying to be nice.  Anyway, here's the painting.  It's been painted in gouache on watercolor paper and is about 6 x 6 inches:

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Thou Shalt Not Lie

I know, I know - the correct wording in the 9th commandment is "Thou shalt not bear false witness" but it still means the same as thou shalt not lie, doesn't it!  And, even though the Bible says that we should love our neighbor as ourselves (& I guess that means FedEx drivers too), it doesn't mean that we can't be thoroughly disgusted with them!

I mean, how would you feel to have stayed home all day waiting for a package that was supposed to have been delivered today only to find the following on your online tracking page?

Click To Enlarge

Honestly, (well, at least honestly on my part) is there any wonder that I blog about FedEx in a negative light from time to time?  Why couldn't the driver have just said that it was late and he didn't want to make a delivery way out in the country?  Why lie about it?  Was he (or she) afraid the boss would fire him?  Why put it out for delivery in the first place if he had too much to take care of for the day?

Well, I certainly hope the package will be delivered tomorrow and I will definitely check carefully to make sure it's in good shape when it does finally arrive!

FedEx, this is just the first of November - what are you gonna do when the Christmas season really hits?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Last Hurrah

The dahlias and some other flowers are still blooming their little hearts out even at this time of the year.  But, all that colorful beauty will probably come to an end tonight as we're expected to get our first frost by tomorrow morning.

It shouldn't be a killing frost but I thought I'd save some of the flowers anyway as I thought they might be damaged if not totally zapped by the cold weather.  Hopefully these will last until the weather warms up again as it usually does at least once before the cold sets in for good for the winter.

Enjoy them while you can - I know I will!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Neither Fish Nor Fowl

I'm not sure I ever completely understood that phrase until now (although I'm still not totally sure!  lol)  But I think it has to do with something not being one thing but not another either.  Maybe something sort of in limbo?

Well, I can identify with that.  I had cataract surgery on one eye last Wednesday and I can't really see out of either eye at the moment.  I opted for something called "monovision" where the lenses used are of different prescriptions - the left eye will have a lens suited for close work and the right eye will have a lens prescribed for distance.  I had contact lenses like that at one time (before wearing contacts became too uncomfortable to wear any longer) and it worked very well for me.

But, since only one eye has had surgery, I won't get the full effect until both eyes have been done along with a short time for adjusting to the new lenses.  And, it may not work exactly as planned as trying to determine the exact prescription for each eye with the cataract removed is not an exact science.  I'm hoping that I'll not have to wear glasses or contacts at all, of course.

But, I won't complain as I can already see better out of one eye than I ever could with both eyes without correction!  But, right now is a little tricky as I've popped one of the lenses out of my glasses but put a patch over the eye that had surgery so everything isn't all "wonky" especially when trying to read or write something.  You probably wouldn't be getting this post but I'm bored silly and since I'm fairly proficient at touch typing, I decided to give it a shot!

Unfortunately, I'm not a Monet where having cataracts turned me into a great artist as I find it impossible to paint.  Trying to do so gives me a raging headache so please be patient with me for a while longer.  Hopefully, I'll be back to painting in no time flat - then being neither fish nor fowl won't really matter - I'll be back to being an artist!

Monday, October 7, 2013

It's a Hot, Hot, Hot Autumn

The Flaming Garden - Acrylic
Even though our main garden season is winding down, it seems the peppers are going stronger than ever.  The jalapeno, serrano and Cajun Belle pepper plants are loaded and fiery hot at this time of the year. 

The tomatoes have finished although we do have a volunteer plant that has some large Roma-type tomatoes on it.  They're still green and I hope the first frost will hold off until they ripen.  If not, they're far enough along to bring inside to finish.

But, we try to have something going as much of the year as possible and this year we planted rutabagas - a first for us.  We also have spinach, arugula, cilantro, parsley - all cool season crops for us.

However, the season has been anything but cool so far this fall.  Today was at least 90 degrees F as was yesterday.  The nights have cooled off a bit but nothing like they should be by now.  We're to get ours in a few days though as the cold front that brought snow to the western states is headed our way.  We shouldn't get any snow but probably some rain (which is needed) with a drop in temperature. 

How low will it go?  Actually not so bad - about 70 degrees F during the day and about 50 degrees at night.  That's perfect weather to my way of thinking!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Buck - Finally Finished

"Buck" - gouache on paper
Sometime ago I posted a work in progress of this fawn and I've now finished it (or at least have put it away for a while).  There will be some tweaking, I'm sure, but I'm going to let it simmer for a bit and then decide what needs to be done with it.

I honestly never did figure out the tangle of legs but I think I got them fairly well.  It amazes me that the very young can almost fold up accordian-style!  I guess it's the result of being in the womb and having to fit into such a small space!

C&C always appreciated so if you see anything that needs attention, please let me know!

I'm going to try to get some paintings done as I'll probably not be painting much during the month of October.  Lots of stuff going on but hopefully I'll get enough ahead to post a few things.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

FedEx Smartpost - Why I Will No Longer Order From

I'm sure the map above is a bit confusing - believe me, it was confusing to me to draw the delivery route lines!  But maybe it will help if I explain the situation then the map:

I ordered some airbrush accessories from on about September the 18th - it wasn't a large package and everything was to come from Amazon's own distribution center warehouse and shipping was free.  I realize that I don't have much right to complain when I'm not directly paying for shipping but the FedEx Smartpost that Amazon uses for shipping is ridiculous.  They ought to rename it FedEx Stupidpost or FedEx Slowpost!  The order shipped on September 20th and was in Charlotte that same day.  Charlotte is only a couple of hours away from us, btw.

OK, see the green line leaving Charlotte?  That's my package going north up to Kernersville after being in Charlotte for 3 days.  OK, it arrived in Kernersville on the 24th at about 2 AM then at 3AM went right back to Charlotte (that's the purplish colored line).  From that return trip to Charlotte, the package again went north but this time went to Winston-Salem! 

From Winston-Salem, the tracking record says the package arrived at our town (which isn't a town but simply a large postal route) at a "carrier facility".  I have no idea what carrier facility as our local post office (where it should have gone) swears up and down that they didn't get the package on that day.

OK, from our home town, the package went to Raleigh on September the 25th then was again sent north only to Greensboro this time!  It finally left Greensboro on September the 26th and was delivered by our local postal carrier that day.

Honestly, I could have driven to Charlotte the first day it showed up there and had my package nearly a week sooner plus we could have had a nice visit with the grandkids to boot!

I had another such episode with an order that involved UPS's version of Smartpost which I detailed in a post on my Pets to Posies blog.  I don't know who came up with the idea that this method of shipping is smart but it sure appears that the shipper (in this case FedEx) is going to a lot of extra stops to get to a destination that should be a lot more direct and definitely quicker! 

I guess they really feel it's saving them money as there have been bitter complaints about this system for years and companies are still using it.  I wonder if Amazon and other companies who use this shipping system realize how much money they ultimately lose by losing customers such as myself? 

Goodbye - it was nice knowing you but not so nice doing business with your idea of smart shipping.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Temporary Yard Ornament


This was what was in our yard this morning probably less than 25 feet from our house (actually, probably less than 15 feet!)

This is an American o'possum or, as they're called here, just plain ole possum.  We have quite a few of these guys hanging around but they're rarely seen in the daytime.  This one was feasting on some fallen apples or maybe even some grubs - I really didn't want to get close enough to see!

The possum is pretty laid back, not usually dangerous but they do have very sharp teeth and can bite.  Mostly they act like they're dead if they feel threatened without any means of escape.  And if they can get away they'd rather run than fight.

They are the only marsupial in the US and not nearly as cute as their Australian counterparts.  In fact, they're pretty ugly with that long pointy face, rat-like tail and beady eyes but their fur is rather pretty and many of the old-timers survived by eating them. 

We saw a female possum carrying her babies on her back earlier this spring but none of the photos I took of her were any good as it was dusk dark when she appeared.  This could very well be one of her offspring as it's a little more than half the size she was.

Monday, September 16, 2013

New Toy

I just got my new air compressor about an hour ago and am still very nervous about trying it out with paint and everything.  We did set it up and do a test run per the instructions that came with it but that's not really the same as actually painting with it!

For one thing, I don't really have anything that needs airbrushing at the moment and I really don't want to actually paint with it until I get some simple airbrush supplies.

However, I did want to share a photo of it for your viewing pleasure!  lol  I promise to return to let you see what I've done with it and will also let you know how I like it.  It's really been years and years since I've done any air brushing so it will be like learning to do it all over again!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sweet Little Fawn

Buck - gouache on watercolor paper

I guess I have one girly-girl vice and it's not shoes!  However, it does have to do with my feet and it's that I really love getting spa pedicures.  The woman who does them for me gave me some photos of a tiny baby fawn that her daughter had found on their property.  I've been wanting to paint this little guy forever but something else has always interfered.

Well, I finally decided that I would paint it and wouldn't let anything else get in the way of it getting done.  This is as far as I've gotten so far.  I'm painting it in gouache (opaque watercolor) and it's being done in layers.  I've only gotten the first layers down right now and no real detail as yet.

Frankly, I'm a little stumped by the fawn-like tangle of legs and need to stop and sort out what goes where!  The reference photo was a little small so I couldn't enlarge it to get any detail but I think I can find something similar online and maybe tell how the legs are positioned.

It probably won't matter a whole lot as there's grass which will cover some of his legs and chest area.  You know me though, I'm kind of a freak about getting it right to begin with and really do want to be as accurate as possible.  If the "bones" of a painting are good, then the rest of it will have a better chance of being good also.

Watch for the final of this soon!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Christmas in September?

I've heard of Christmas in July but I guess I'm either late or early depending on whether you're a Christmas in July fan or a Christmas in December fan.

Actually, I was trying to plan ahead for once and try to design our own Christmas cards this year.  Even with all this advance planning, I'm not doing so great!

This poinsettia is the only painting that's turned out very well so far but, then again, I'm not spending a whole lot of time painting either. 

This painting is gouache used in a sort of a transparent watercolor fashion.  Of course, I wanted the more opaque look for reproduction which is why I chose the gouache.  It was painted on watercolor paper though.

Is this the design for our cards this year?  I don't know - we'll just have to see what else I can come up with.

Monday, September 2, 2013

A Pet Portrait Painting??!! Oh, My!

Of course I remember that I said I'd retired from painting pet portraits!  But this little guy is special and he's the new rescue from a former customer who's very special to me so I just had to paint him, didn't I?

I've been struggling trying to get a decent photo of him and even tried to scan the painting and this is about the best I can do.  Still off the mark but I'm not an expert when it comes to color corrections!!!!

This is Fritz and he's a Bichon Frise.  He was the pet of someone who decided they didn't want him anymore so decided to get rid of him at 14 years old!  Can you imagine?  Dogs at this age are pretty much deemed unadoptable yet my customer took him in and thinks he's about the best thing since sliced bread!

So I say kudos to Donna and her husband for making Fritz's life so much better.  And I say that what you sow is what you reap.  So to whoever tossed him aside, don't be surprised if, toward the end of your life, you're pushed aside and not deemed worthwhile to keep either.

Not that I wish that for anybody but these precious little bundles of love rely on us to keep the promise that was made when they got a dog.  Most dogs live up to their end of the bargain returning more love and companionship than they get from their humans.  It's time for humans to step up to the plate and give their pets love and companionship as well as care for the life of the pet. 

Getting a pet is a commitment that should be honored.  That's the unspoken agreement that every pet deserves!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All Hail the King!

Here is another photo from the recent trip to the North Carolina coast.  This larger-than-life King Neptune was a fun thing to stumble upon when we were exploring the boardwalk in Morehead City. 

And another fun photo just a little ways from the King.  This is painted in the design of the Cape Lookout lighthouse.

I hope you find these photos as amusing as we did.  The day was a bit overcast but the photos came out better than I'd hoped.  I did tweak them a bit so you could get the full effect.

If you ever get to North Carolina, plan to visit the Crystal Coast as I don't think you'll be at all disappointed.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Home From Beaufort, NC

Got home from a fun trip to Beaufort with two of my four sisters and they left yesterday to fly back to their homes. 

We drove down on Thursday then I did a pastel demonstration at the Artestry Hideaway on Friday afternoon.  It was sooooo hot out there on the boardwalk and not many people were about.  But it was still a fun experience and I was forced to actually make some art!  I didn't get to finish it during that 2 hour session but I'll finish it soon and post it here for you to see.

Before and after the demo, my sisters and I did fun, touristy things and just had a ball.  One of the things we did that was the most fun was going on a boat tour out from Beaufort.  We got to see much of the area from the water including both Carrot Island and Shackleford Banks (or Island) both of which have wild ponies.  While the ponies on Carrot Island are wild and are probably from Shackleford, they were once cared for by relatively modern means.  The horses on Shackleford Banks, called "Banker Ponies" or "Bankers", are direct descendant's of Spanish mustangs brought to the New World by Columbus and other Spanish explorers in the 1400's and evidently have the most pure Spanish mustang blood of all the wild mustangs in the U.S.

I did get some photos of the horses both on Carrot Island and Shackleford Banks but we were some distance from them and the photos aren't all that clear.

The photo above was taken from Shackleford Banks and shows a parasailor.  The area around Beaufort is full of fun things to do.

My youngest sister acted as our chauffeur and spent a lot of time looking at maps and reading brochures.  Because she was doing the driving, we often ended up in places we hadn't planned on going!  The last evening in Beaufort, we thought we were going to dinner at a restaurant a few blocks away and ended up at the very end of Harkers Island about 15 miles or so away!  We also ended up at a local "greasy spoon" instead of the classy restaurant we had intended to go to!  The four hour trip to Beaufort ended up being an over eight hour trip home but we stopped at a farmer's/arts/crafts market, a couple of art galleries and a spice packaging and distributing company along the way!

As I said, it was a fun trip and so nice to be able to spend that time with my sisters!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Bit of a Plug

Just a quick mention that I'll be doing a pastel demonstration at the Artestry Hideaway gallery in Beaufort, North Carolina on August 23rd at 2 pm. 

I hope you'll stop by if you're in the area.  The Hideaway is a great gallery and the owner, Angie, is fun and friendly.

My sisters and I will be enjoying a little "Sisters Reunion" and taking in the sights of beautiful Beaufort after the demonstration.  I'll hopefully have some photos to show you when I return.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The (Mostly) Clean Art Studio!

 Whew, I'm finally in the short rows with cleaning the studio - at least enough that I'm not too embarrassed to show it to you. 

The views are from #1 - the doorway, then panning to the right until we're back at the doorway again.

I still have some more straightening up to do but at least it's clean!  lol

Take note of the third photo, especially the blue pillow under the desk.  That's where our little Maltese stays when I'm in the studio.  However, lately she's refused to come in because I've been making a lot of noise with the vacuum        cleaner and other instruments of cleaning!  She hates noise of any kind so hides when we make any.

It won't be too long before my sisters arrive and now that the studio is nearly presentable, I'm getting excited!  Now I just have to do a little special cooking, make up the beds and I think we'll be ready!  But, this will probably be my last post for a while.  Sisters are special and if they come all this way to see me, I definitely want to spend some quality time with them!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Another Unfinished Find

I think I need to quit cleaning my studio!  I keep finding unfinished work that makes me want to stop cleaning and start painting! 

The iris on the left is a watercolor on Ampersand Aquabord and has a background made from scrunched up cling wrap.  I've tried this technique in the past and it didn't work well for me but I actually like it in this painting.  Of course, there's a ton more work to do on this and I may finish it in gouache instead of transparent watercolor.  It's only when you get further along in a painting can you really tell whether a background is going to work or not.

In any case, the background will need some tweaking as work on the foreground will throw off the background.  In painting, it's work on the subject, then tweak the background.  Tweak the subject a bit then the background's off.  The whole painting process involves working back and forth between subject and background.  The painting just isn't finished until everything is balanced to the artist's satisfaction.

I'm So Excited!!!!

I know, I know, I should be preparing for my sister's visit but I just had the most amazing thing happen & I just had to share it with someone!

I had to run up to the Dollar General in our little rural community and there was the most lovely woman in line behind me.  She was dressed exactly like one of the women in a vision I've had for a painting!  Not only that, but I asked if I could take her photo and she let me!

I've had this vision rolling around in my head for probably a year or so but just couldn't get it to come together like I wanted.  This was mainly because I didn't have access to the specific painting reference photos I envisioned and I really need some good references as you all know I'm not normally a people portrait painter!

As I said, this lady was really pretty yet in the age range I was looking for.  The only problem is that the only "perfect" reference photo I have is of her & my vision calls for several ladies.

I want to tell you that God is good, He's so very good as not only was this lady willing to pose for me today but when I told her what I wanted the photo for, she offered to round up some friends to pose for me also! 

Now how often are you in the perfect place for the possibility of your dreams to be fulfilled? 

I'm excited, I'm really excited!  I can't wait to be able to start painting!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Still Here

I'm still here but have been exceedingly busy and not with any art stuff!  Unfortunately, I've not had time to paint any and probably won't be able to paint for another week or so.  I also won't be able to post here all that much either so hope you won't give up on me!

I'll check back in after next week after my sister's have gone, ok?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Another Oldie in Oil

Oil from maybe 30 years ago
Today I've posted an oil painting I painted about 30 years ago.  My sister and her husband have it hanging in their home in Kansas and I had asked for a photo of it which she just sent. 

The colors aren't quite accurate here because the photos were sent via email and not quite accurate.  I tried to tweak the photos as much as I could but sometimes it's like horseshoes and you can only get close.  But I wanted a record of the painting and am just grateful she sent the photos.

I posted this because oil painting has been on my mind lately and I'd like to get back to it.  It's odd how inspiration comes in waves with dead spaces in between!  But now is not an ideal time to begin an oil painting!  We're still canning, I'm still cleaning on the studio and I'm trying to figure out a subject to paint for a demonstration I'm to do at the Artestry Hideaway (more on that in another post) which won't be in oil!

Oil paintings take time and take up room and are generally one of the more messy art mediums.  As much as I want to, I just can't start a painting right now.  That creative urge will just have to wait.

Inspiration is such a fickle thing sometimes and must have a twisted sense of humor as it occurs at the darndest times and usually when it's inconvenient to do anything about it!  There are times when I feel it mocking me or maybe it's daring me to take it up on it's offer.  Because inspiration is rather fleeting, I often do drop whatever I'm doing and follow it's siren song.  Other times, like today, I just can't do that.  I only hope it will still be there when I can give in to it's seductive call.

Friday, August 9, 2013

An Oldie and a New Find

 This is a painting I did in oils probably 25 years ago.  I thought it was finished then although I wasn't quite satisfied with it.  Now I can see that it isn't even close to being finished and I plan to work more on it in the coming days and weeks.  I'm trying to straighten up my studio and keep finding these old paintings which serve as a benchmark to show how far I've come!

The photo on the left shows some shaggy asters which are flowers we planted for the first time this year.  We have tons of the little white and purple fall asters growing wild all over our farm but this variety is different and I'm really pleased with them.

I intend to modify the painting above to incorporate the look of the these pretty asters but it won't get done or even started for quite a while.  Two of my sisters are coming for a visit plus I'm supposed to do a pastel demonstration at the Artestry Hideaway gallery in Beaufort, NC August 23rd so I'm in something of a time crunch right now.  That's also why I'm not posting as much here on my blog as I'd like to so please bear with me.

On another note, Sue Clinker from the PencilPix blog blogged about Shag Dancing with a link to a video of some teenagers shagging in a contest.  The kids were really good but the young man was outstanding with his moves.  Sue made the comment that the girl let the boy shine.  I'm not so sure she let him - it seems that with shagging (oh, my! let me amend that to read shag dancing!), the men are usually better at it than the women.  I think it has something to do with the way the dance seems to be performed with a "loose connection" from the waist down and men seem so good at that.  Anyway, Sue got me real nostalgic even though I have two left feet and I spent quite a bit of time looking at various shag dancing videos.  Below is a link to one of a mother and son dancing together that won my heart. And, if you look to the side of the screen, you'll see other videos that may help you understand shag dancing just a little better:

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

A Put Off Painting!

I honestly don't know how long I've been "working" on this - several years I'm sure.  It's one of those paintings that I really want to finish but nothing seems to go right with it.

For one thing, it's being painted in acrylics which is my nemesis.  And for another thing, it's all dark, creepy and green except for the egret.  Of course, all the swamps I've been in were dark, creepy and slimy green so I guess it's pretty authentic!

I guess I don't mind the green so much and I actually like the background of trees although there's still a little bit more to do there.  The thing with slimy green swamps is the green on the surface is sometimes kind of phosphorescent and I'd like to portray that but it's escaping me.  The foreground, and of course the bird,  need a lot of work and I'm just not sure where to go with them.

The composition is a mix of many reference photos and my own memories of camping in the swamps of Mississippi back in the late 60's.  I guess I want to capture the feel of the swamp rather than the actual look of it and it's proving a very elusive thing to do! It's too bad one can't paint in the sound of a bobcat's cry in the middle of the night.  I'm sure that would certainly complete the picture of the very essence of the swamp!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Great Art Tool

Although not specifically for art, the Preval sprayer is definitely useful for the artist and my number 1 favorite tool besides paint, brushes and supports!

The Preval sprayer acts like a mini airbrush without all the hassle or noise.  I use it for spraying paint and also for varnishing finished paintings because it gives such even coverage.

The full kit comes with a glass bottle and lid, the gas canister and the dip tube (or stem) with filter.  Once you have the glass bottle with the lid, you can just replace the gas canister which also comes with a new dip tube and filter. 

If you saw my post from yesterday - the one with the photo of the messy studio - you'll see a piece of cardboard sticking up on the left side of my table.  That's my "spray booth", lol.  The cardboard keeps the spray contained to one area then I have plastic bags covering the table to protect it.  I also have an old vinyl shower curtain protecting the floor under the table.  I probably don't need all of that as the Preval is really pretty precise in it's spray pattern and there's not a lot of overspray.  I just feel it's better to be safe rather than sorry!

Hope I've given you another tool to put in your arsenal whether you're an artist, a woodworker or another sort of crafter.  This little sprayer is easy, relatively cheap and a real help in many situations!

Friday, August 2, 2013

A John Brown Mess!

I don't know where the expression "A John Brown Mess" came from but it's a favorite in this area for describing something that's so messed up it's likely never to be fixed!  Unfortunately, that describes my studio right now and I have guests coming in about two weeks!

If you've been a reader of my Pets To Posies blog, you'll know that I've gotten myself into this predicament before & I honestly don't realize it's happening until the studio is such a catastrophe that it takes a near miracle to get it back in order!

I think it happens because I tend to have several projects going on at one time and I think I'd do better if I did one thing at a time then cleaned up before starting something else.  But sometimes that's just not feasible.  It's the nature of paint to take a while to dry (unless it's acrylics which dry before you want them to!  lol)  and I just like to have something to keep me busy while waiting to go to the next step in a painting or project and I end up with stuff all over the place!

I'm really not this way when it comes to the rest of my life.  When I worked in an office, my desk was usually as neat as a pin and my house stays pretty neat too (especially considering that I share it with someone who's not exactly a neatnic himself!) so I'm not sure how my studio gets to be soooo messy!

Well, I refuse to call this a real John Brown Mess in that I know it can be straightened out.  However, it will take time, lots of time, so let me get to it!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

There Are Art Thieves About!

Well, I found one of my paintings posted on another website without my permission and I've heard from other artists that their art is also being stolen.

It amazes me that people who cruise the internet have so little regard for copyright law and even if they know about it, they think it doesn't apply to them.

Listen up all of you who would snag some art or a photo or even some text from a website to use the way you want to.  It's a copyright violation. It's illegal in most countries of the world. 

Just because it's on the internet doesn't mean that it's free for the taking.  How would you like it if I took your car just because it was parked on a public street?

Even if you don't intend to use anything for your own profit, it's still a copyright violation and illegal to even take it to begin with.  If you plan to claim you can use it under the Fair Use act, please be sure to read the rules concerning Fair Use!  Nine times out of ten, your use won't qualify!

Unfortunately, to help thwart would-be thieves, the watermark above will appear on all of my art and photos.  Yes, it will cover a goodly portion of any artwork, but it will be made mostly transparent so that the art can be seen while the text is still readable. 

I dislike having to do this but a few rotten apples spoil the whole barrel for the people who are honest and just want to look at art and photos!  For the artists who stop by, I would urge you to do whatever you can to help stop your art from being posted in other places or used without your permission.  If you would like to know how to make a watermark for your art, there are tutorials all over the web.  Just search for "watermarks + your graphic software name & version".

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Harvest Time

Pickled Okra and Jalapeno Peppers
It's that time of the year again when we have to do something with all the goodies from our garden.

Even though we no longer have a traditional working farm, we do like to have a garden and we certainly like to eat from the garden all year long.  In order to do that, we have to either freeze or can produce as soon as it's ready for harvest.

As I said, we love to have our own produce available during the winter months but preserving that produce sure eats into any art time!

Right now we have peppers of all kinds, tomatoes and a few okra plants producing like crazy and something needs to be done with it.  We enjoy sharing with friends & acquaintances who don't have a garden but even though we cut back on what we plant each spring, it seems we still have the same amount of harvest!

We canned 4 pint jars of jalapeno peppers today along with the okra but that's just a drop in the bucket as to what we'll use between now and next year's garden!  My husband loves hot peppers and could go through a jar in just a couple of days!  We plan to can quart jars of the various peppers tomorrow - oh, my burning hands!

We also put some fresh sweet corn in the freezer.  We don't plant corn because of the problems with deer and raccoons but a neighbor gave us some of his harvest today and it looks beautiful.  I know we'll enjoy it this winter too!

There are also tomatoes & squash in the freezer and I've made both fermented sour pickles and sweet bread 'n butter pickles and canned string beans.  The green beans, squash and cucumbers are nearly finished but we still have field peas left to harvest plus lots and lots of peppers.

Hopefully we can get everything in the freezer or the canner soon  and I can get back to painting.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Rabbit Invasion

At one time our county was known for its plentiful rabbit population.  Over time, the rabbits became less numerous but it seems that we're about to regain the distinction of being the Rabbit Capital of North Carolina once again.

My other half and I spent the morning chasing this half-grown bunny from our back yard.  We have no idea of how they're getting in as the yard is completely fenced with a welded wire that has only 2 x 3 inch gaps between the wire.  But we're seeing more of them back there than we ever have.  When we found that even the larger rabbits could go through those tiny spaces, my husband put up some wire with a mesh of about half an inch along the bottom of the existing fence and they're still getting in!  It appears that we're going to have to fence the yard with screen wire!

It's not that we don't like rabbits.  We do, and we have no problem with them being just about anywhere else on our farm. But our garden is in the back yard and they do cause some problems there if they happen to get in.  We've even fenced off the garden within the back yard and they're finding their way through that fence as well.

It hasn't been too many years ago that we began to see and hear coyotes relatively close to our house.  The increase in the rabbit population means that there will be an increase in the populations of coyotes, and both red and gray foxes and probably hawks and owls. 

We're pretty laid back about letting nature take care of itself and don't hunt or otherwise try to control the wildlife population.  Even though coyotes aren't native to our area, we leave them alone unless they're very close to the house.

With rabbits getting into the back yard, other wild animals could follow them and we already watch our little Maltese closely when she's outside.   Hopefully, we can figure out something to keep the rabbits out.

In the meantime, that old Shirley Temple song keeps running through my head ------"Animal crackers in my soup,  monkeys and rabbits loop the loop ---"  (

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Graphic Work

 I've been helping a friend who owns a nano brewery to take some photos of some of his products and the operation.  In case you don't know, a nano brewery is smaller than a micro brewery!

Anyway, it's a shame I'm not a beer drinker as I'm told Dave's beer is very good.  I know he'd load me up with whatever variety I wanted but beer is something I've never really acquired a taste for.

I spent yesterday morning taking the photos and cropping, resizing, etc. those photos.  Today has been spent removing a smudge from his shirt and a paddle that seemed to be growing out of his head along with scanning and resizing one of his labels.

Hopefully, it's all finished now and I can get back to my normal art work.  Of course, I really, really need to clean up the studio first! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Artestry Hideaway - Beaufort, NC

The Artestry Hideaway Art Gallery, Beaufort, NC

Boardwalk view of the Artestry Hideaway

It seems as if we've been on the road more than we've been at home lately.  Day before yesterday, we drove down to Beaufort along our beautiful North Carolina coast to the Artestry Hideaway Art Gallery.  I needed to trade out some of my unsold paintings and put in some new ones and I wanted to do it before the weekend as they're having a fishing tournament there.

Little did I know that traffic and the crowds of people would be almost as  dense on a Wednesday as on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday!  But it's the beach and the beach is always crowded during the summer months!

The photos above are from our trip there this past February as there was no way I could get any decent photos this time around!  The boardwalk was wall-to-wall people and we ended up parking about two and a half blocks from the gallery!  That's a rather long trudge when you're carrying several large paintings and it's near 100 degrees F even with a breeze blowing off the water!

However, we made it there and back in about 10 hours and I tried to do a little bit of catching up around here yesterday.  I finally finished the graphic project I was working on and it just got mailed out while ago.

Now I have to go to work on preparing several sets of coasters for sale in both the gallery in Beaufort and hopefully for some galleries and gift shops near here.

Will post any new paintings as soon as I have time to paint something!!!!!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Escambia Bay, Florida

We took a very quick trip to Florida to see my mother in law and my husband's sister and her family.  I haven't had time to make any art but we did take a walk along Escambia Bay while we were there and I thought I'd share one of the photos.

Unfortunately, with the trees, there's not a really great view of the bay so I thought I'd share a photo of the walkway where you can walk along with brief glimpses of the bay.  The whole walk ended up being about a mile because the walkway started out just off the highway then circled back to it to a different parking lot.

It was hot there even though there was a nice breeze off the water.  Even so, a mile long walk in hot weather when you aren't really used to it is very tiring!

Hopefully I'll be able to get back to painting after today.  Somebody slow down time and crack the whip!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Nearly Finished with the Cradled Hardboard Painting

I've finally gotten to the point where I could glue the paintings to the cradled hardboard and thought you might like to see the (almost) end result.  I don't actually use glue for these but use the recommended Golden brand Soft Gloss Gel Medium.  I use it to both attach the painting to the prepared board then also use 2 coats of it to seal the painting.  By the way, that's the shine you see on the paintings as the Soft Gloss isn't quit dry yet.

Because this is a gouache painting and gouache lifts very easily, I gave both the rooster and this lighthouse a light spray with an acrylic sealer.  This kept the gouache from running when I brushed on the diluted Soft Gloss.

In the past I've used a Preval sprayer or my airbrush with the diluted Soft Gloss and was able to skip the acrylic sealer step.  However, this time I had some sealer handy and it was easier to use it than bring out more equipment.

After a few days, I'll give them a several coats of Golden's spray varnish with UV inhibitors and they'll be finished! 

I'll be working on a design project for the next few days and probably won't be able to post here on my blog.  But keep checking back as I'll return with even more art or art ideas!

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Making A Cradled Hardboard - What Have I Learned?

No photos this time but I did want to share what I've learned about making my own cradled hardboards:

Buy them already prepared if you can!

However, if you have to make your own because of size or if you just want to make them, then I recommend the following:

1.  If you already have the artwork which you want to use on a cradled hardboard, measure it carefully then cut your hardboard 1/8 to 1/4 inches smaller than your art.

I don't care how carefully you measure, there will be mistakes.  Making sure the art is slightly larger than the cradled hardboard will help with making sure the hardboard is covered when you go to glue it down.  It's much easier to trim a little from art that's too large for the board than  trying to make too-small art fit on your board.

If you're like me and just dive into doing something without considering all the ramifications, you may also be like me and find that your art is slightly smaller than the cradled hardboard.  If that's the case, I saw a tip from an established artist (but can't remember who it was!!!) to paint the cradle and hardboard one color then trim your painting so that it will allow about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the painted hardboard to show all around.  It will kind of look like an intentional border.  That's what I'm going to have to do with at least one of my two paintings!

Of course, it would have been better if I'd had to trim a tiny bit of the painting after gluing to the hardboard but --------.

2.  Make the boards for your cradle just a tad smaller than each of the measurements.  If you plan to cradle an 8 x 10 inch piece of art on paper, for instance, mark two pieces at 8 inches and two at 10 inches but cut on the side of the markings so you'll have slightly smaller boards than if you'd cut them on the other side of the line or even right on the line.  I say this because it's much easier to fill small cracks with wood filler than to try to shave down a too-large frame board.

Since we were using hand tools, it was almost impossible to get accurate cuts for the mitered ends and I ended up trying to reduce the size of the cradle boards while still keeping the correct angle of the miter.   It was a real pain and very time-consuming, but I was able to get the miters to fit in with each other although I still had to use wood filler.  It would have been much simpler to have had the ends (very) slightly shorter.

3.  Instead of putting the cradle/frame together before gluing to the hardboard, I recommend gluing each piece of the cradle to the hardboard so that the edges match up.  If you didn't want to miter each corner, I would think that boards butted together would be just as effective if not as esthetically pleasing.  I think I would do that if I ever make another one of these cradled boards.

I hope these tips help and that you'll have an easier time of building a cradled hardboard than I did.  Of course, no matter what you use for your board, be sure to seal it thoroughly to keep any wood acids from leaching into your painting.  And don't forget to varnish your painting after adhering it to the cradled board.

Good luck if you try this.  It really shouldn't be too bad and now that I know what to expect, I think the next one I build will be much easier and quicker!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cradled Hardboards Finished

This was the last cradled hardboard and I just finished gluing and clamping it. 

The first one I did, I glued the frame (or cradle) together first before attempting to attach the hardboard and that was not a good idea.  It's hard enough getting everything right using the right power tools but it's nearly impossible using hand tools.

Even though I'd measured and dry-fitted (twice!) the cradle ended up being about a sixteenth of an inch wider than the hardboard so my husband is going to try to plane it down to size once the glue is firmly set.

With this last cradle, I glued each section to the hardboard, dry-fitting as I went and that worked out so much better!  It's a lot easier to make adjustments on one or two sections than to try to adjust a finished product!

Once everything is completely finished and the paintings are attached to the hardboards, I'll take more photos to show you how they look. 

Monday, July 8, 2013

Making A Cradled Hardboard

 cradle frame in process
I did some gouache paintings on some paper that is not of a standard size.  I yell at myself all the time to be sure to use quality materials in standard sizes as I know that as sure as I don't, that's when a painting will turn out to be a "keeper".

Yep, that's what happened with not just one but two recent paintings.  Not that they're on inferior materials but they aren't of a standard size.  So, instead of taking them to a frame shop for custom framing, I decided to make some cradled boards for them.  Cradled boards don't necessarily have to be framed and since I wanted both of these for a gallery, I didn't want to wait a couple of weeks or longer for a frame shop to frame them.

I'm pretty much using hand tools for this project but it's coming together fairly well.  I wanted to be the one to cut the cradle frame boards because I'm very picky but my husband insisted that he do it.  I had plans with my daughter so I left him to it.  When I returned, he had cut the boards but two of the ends weren't quite even so he had to re-cut them this morning.

I can't help it - I'm something of a perfectionist when it comes to some things and these cradled boards are something I wanted perfect!  I think it upsets my darling other half when I want something done over, but these paintings are representative of me and I want to put my best foot forward!

He finally got them right and you can see that I've started to glue them up.  Next will be gluing the two angles to make the nearly square frame then I'll attach the hardboard itself.  I've already put the primer/sealer on the hardboard to keep any wood acids from migrating into the painting and also to keep it from warping when I glue it.

As soon as the frame dries, I'll attach the board and when it's dry, I'll paint the cradle frame, attach my painting to the board then varnish the painting.  It may sound involved but just takes a little time and concentration.  The hard part is cutting the proper 45 degree miters for the corners using hand tools!

And in the future I'll do my best to follow my own advice and only paint on standard sized substrates!!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

What Else To Do With All Your Paintings!

coasters from paintings
I was surfing the internet one day trying to get inspired to just DO something as the dog days of summer arrive early here in the South!  Anyway, I happened upon lots of tutorials and blog posts about making coasters with photos of your family, children, or using decorative papers, etc. 

I thought it would be a wonderful, different and useful way to display some of my paintings so I set out to try doing it for myself.  I know there are many places that offer to put photos on coasters but have you seen their prices?!!!!!  Many are over $20 each!  I like doing crafts and thought I could make my own to use as gifts and maybe sell.

Several tutorials and/or blog posts mentioned that the coasters were sticky when a hot cup of liquid was placed on them so I began to search for a way to avoid this.  I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to some things plus I already had orders for several sets of these!

I thought I'd finally found the answer when I stumbled upon the following tutorial:

I was really excited because we had used the pour-on resins before and liked how the items looked.  I rushed right out and bought some and poured several of the coasters I'd prepared.  They looked beautiful.  Yes, I had one that had some tiny bubbles in it but, since I knew what to expect, I was really surprised that it was only the one that would have to be sanded down and re-poured.

OK, jump forward a couple of weeks.  I knew the cure time for the resin is fairly long so I thought that 2 weeks should be plenty of time and that a trial was in order.  I got the coaster that had the bubbles in it, a cup of hot coffee and settled down to watch the early morning news.  I lifted the cup to take my first sip and the coaster came up with it!!!!

Aaaaargh!  Not only did the coaster stick to the cup but when I pried them apart, there was an indentation from the cup embedded in the resin!!!!!   Double aaaaargh even though the indentation leveled itself after a few days!  This was really a disaster especially since one lady was waiting on the coasters so she could give them as a gift!  More searching online and I found that using a good quality paste wax and buffing it well would protect the coasters until they fully cured (which can take several weeks).  I did this and it did help some but I'm searching for another sealer for these coasters that I can use for last minute orders.  The pour-on resin makes for a beautiful finish and I'll probably be using it for future coasters as it's also used to protect table and bar tops and should be very durable.

But in the short-term?  Maybe I need to rethink what else I can use my paintings for!  Ideas, anyone?

Friday, July 5, 2013

Welcome To My New Blog!

Gouache on Paper - copyright Jan Gibson

After much thought and consideration, I decided to retire from painting pet portraits and to concentrate on developing my own style and learning more about various art media .  This new blog is the result of that decision and I hope you'll enjoy this blog as much as you did my Pets To Posies blog.  And if you've never seen my old blog, welcome and I hope you'll enjoy it here!

Since this is just the first post, expect some changes to the look in the future and expect it to be just a little different from the previous one.

Animals and flowers are still favorite subjects to paint and I'm still experimenting with various art media, but I'm also exploring different ways to use my art so there will be little excursions into crafts as well as fine art.  Well, let's just say that this blog will be eclectic and leave it at that!

And on to the art!  The rooster above practically painted itself and I really enjoyed painting him.  Isn't he just a typical male with his out-thrust chest and loud crowing?  lol  (Of course, my husband is nothing like that and is certainly not typical - just in case he's reading my blog these days!)

So enjoy the first painting on my new blog and give me a shout to let me know you're out there!