Wednesday, December 26, 2007

It's A Wonderful Life

It was great having our daughters here for Christmas.

In left to right order: Anna, Joy, Hilary, and Erin.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


While Francois and I were painting together earlier this week, I painted over part of my painting to improve it.

Francois got excited and said,

"Oh, you are repenting."


In french, the word to take something out of a painting, or to cover over what has already been painted in order to improve said painting, is the same word that one would use when confessing ones sins. Repent. And it means the same cover over, to turn from, or make a change for the better because of remorse.

Repenting is a useful habit, in painting and in life.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Two Turtle Doves

There are more than two
of this I am sure,
their goal is to poo
outside our front door.

Bird poo is a nuisance
of that there's no doubt;
when stepped on with shoes
it gets tracked in the house.

I sweep with a vengeance
or use the leaf blower,
but they laugh at my dance
and the poo seems to,

(I had a hard time
with that last little bit
coming up with a rhyme
about all the bird sh...)

My patience is waning
as I look in the branches;
birds keeps on raining
bird poo every chances.

I'm dreaming of sling shots,
and arrows and bow,
of B B's, and pellets,
to make the birds go.

Maybe borrow a cat,
or a big grizzly bear;
Would birds scare of that,
or still poo without care?

Some poisoned bird seed......
No, nothing so drastic,
but life bird poo free
does seem rather fantastic.

Out, out of that tree!
the birds hear me say,
Please, please leave us be.
Be gone! Go away!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Favorite Things

One of my favorite things about life in the Hazel household has been our family supper time. Until very recently, we would all gather at the table for a meal at 6:30 every night. But with Erin and Anna grown, and Reese working late, and Hilary and Joy babysitting so much, we just haven't had nearly as many meals together.

It's not the food, though something inexplicable happens when people eat together....comraderie? I don't know. Maybe. But what happens at our table is that each person at the table talks about their favorite thing of the day. Two things happen. One, everyone at the table contributes to the conversation. And two, everyone at the table listens to one another. Because we discuss favorite things, the family time remains positive.

Since no one is home tonight, what was your favorite thing of the day?

Mine was painting with Francios, my french teacher neighbor friend. We agreed today that I would give her a painting lesson while we studied french. The time flew, and before she was finished it was time for Francios to pick up her children from school. Hopefully she will have time to come back on Monday to finish her painting. Now, *if I can just keep the flowers alive....*

Friday, November 30, 2007

22 Twain

Does 22 seem like a lot or a little? Old or young? Because I've only completed 22 paintings this calendar year, and it doesn't seem like very many to me. And my oldest daughter is 22; I am twice her age (as of last week) and that doesn't seem so old to me, either.

Tomorrow night is the *holiday art sale* opening at Bering and James Gallery. My "Landscape" (catchy title, I know) will be offered for $300. Part of the proceeds from the sale will be donated to DePelchin Children's Center, part go to Bering and James, and part go to me. This is a very typical breakdown of where the money goes when someone buys a painting. Add in the cost of supplies, time, and effort at marketing, and the term "starving artist" comes to mind.

Thank God for Reese. He encourages the best in me, he provides for our family, and he delights in me pursuing artistic endeavors. He is content with this year's 22 paintings, and with me being 44. And he absolutely loves having a 22 year old daughter....and a 20 year old, and an 18 year old, and a 16 year old......

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


The house was full last week; full of warmth, loving family, dear friends, good smells, tasty food, flowing wine, continuous laughter, mutual acceptance, and excessive clutter.

For the last ten (?) years, we have celebrated Thanksgiving with our Australian neighbor friends. Between the two of us, Jennine and I have finally perfected the Thanksgiving dinner...for our families. It was great.

After the hubbub of the Thanksgiving holidays died down, I called my mom to see how things were in Mississippi. We were talking about this and that, nothing of life changing importance when she asked,

"Do you really like painting?"

To which I replied, "I love painting."

She then said something about deadlines and the business of art, to which I insisted that I thrive on goals and deadlines. Don't even think about asking me to focus on details, but to have a short term goal, or a long range plan, and it's like having a jolt of electricity coursing through my a good way.

That's why it was a bit of a personal disappointment the other week when I had written down the wrong deadline for something, which was completely my fault. Thinking that I had until the end of the month to put the final touches on a few paintings....and not being able to before the November 15th deadline (not November 30th) threw me off a little.

Ah, well. Can't get too hung up on disappointment. There's another deadline approaching. Or maybe it's a lifeline.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Rain Rain Go Away

This is as good as it gets. Reese took this photo with my cell phone about 15 minutes before sprinkling rain stopped our work. My friend Cynthia had come to help me paint my square for Via Colori, but even with her assistance we were no match for Mother Nature. All three of us struggled in the wind and rain to tape a large plastic drop cloth over the big square. Then we sat on a drizzly curb and waited. There was one point when Cynthia and I thought that the rain had cleared enough to start drawing again. We peeled back part of the plastic and started working on the door in the painting. But there was not a chance that the weather was going to clear. Not even a 50 percent chance.

The deluge lasted all night and throughout the morning, and even so, I honestly thought that today I would get to finish the work. So after church Reese and I went downtown, hopeful...hopeful that the plastic and taped down edges had kept all the rain off the image, hopeful that we could redeem the time and still finish the painting, hopeful that the show would go on...

What we saw when we got there was a big splot of colorful mud. The pastels used for drawing on the street make a lovely pasty glob when wet.

It was sad.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Poor Judd is Dead

The deadline was supposed to be on November 30th. Or so I thought. November 30th is what I wrote down when I was organizing my time frame list because my brain gets all muddled with details. So I make lists. Most of the paintings I had planned on completing by November 30th weren't even begun, much less finished...because the deadline is really November 15th. Tomorrow.

In spite of the "new" deadline, Reese and I have worked efficiently together. He takes photos of the paintings, preps the photos for the website, and whatever else needs doing. He does a lot. I just paint. We were on track to complete as much of everything that we could by the looming November 15th deadline. Then the cd burner didn't/wouldn't work. Busted. (The cd burner thingy is essential to completing this particular project.) After chatting online with a computer guru for an hour trying to fix the issue, we found out that it will take 2-3 business days for them to mail the software and replacement part before the problem could even begin to be solved.

The deadline is tomorrow.

On the plus side, we uploaded six new paintings to the website.

Friday, November 09, 2007

It Happens

While painting today
the canvas fell on my head
my hair turned orange

Sometimes it happens
I start thinking in haiku
I can't help myself

Last night I partied
at Art on the Avenue
I bid on some wine

Twenty one bottles
the highest bidder was me
all for a good cause

Dress code: warehouse chic
laughing, talking, and laughing
meeting new people

This Saturday night
you can come bid on some art
all for a good cause

If you buy my art
it will help pay for the wine
all for a good cause

Wine out the wazoo
drop in sometime for a drink
or maybe to laugh

P.S. I don't know (?)
blog comments aren't working right
trying to fix it

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Running on Empty

A friend of ours has a house, well not so much a house, but part of a building downtown in Palacios. He invited some friends down last Saturday just for fun. Preparing for the long car ride, I brought the french tapes and one of my art books on Cezanne. We got home rather late, and totally against my character, I left the tapes and book in the car instead of bringing them inside.

Sunday morning was harried, even though we all had an extra hour to get ready for church. Someone had forgotten to charge the moped battery, so Hilary couldn't remotely get to St. Paul's where she sings in the choir. As a non-morning person, I knew just how the moped felt. Empty. But that wasn't going to help Hilary get to St. Paul's.

Skipping a few essentials, such as using the restroom before leaving home because I could just as easily go once we got to church, Hilary, Joy, and I made our way to St. Paul's to drop off Hilary. Exacerbated by our drive to Palacios the day before, the gas gage was on empty. No worries, I thought. I can make it.

As we were driving west on Bissonet, Joy and I noticed a black cloud of smoke in the distance. It seemed surprisingly odd, especially since the closer we got to church the more the smoke seemed to be right where we were headed. Approaching the railroad tracks, the West University cops had the way blocked, and motioned for us to go left/south. Church was north/right, so I turned right, just as the last drop of gas was being consumed by the suburban. Empty. Guess what else? While talking to AAA on my cell phone, the battery started beeping like it was running out of juice, too. Then the tow truck driver couldn't get to me because the roads were blocked because of that smokey fire Joy and I had seen in the distance. To top it all off, I really had to go to the bathroom.

Joy, bless her heart, started walking to church, stopping at Shipley Donuts on the way. But I stayed with the car. And because I hadn't cleaned out the car from our trip to Palacios the day before, I had the french tapes to listen to, and a book on Cezanne to read, which was a huge huge blessing.

If Reese and I hadn't gone to Palacios the day before, and I hadn't been so exhausted when we got home, the book and tapes would have never been in the car in the first place.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Finding My Center

Via Colori is in a couple of weeks. Last year I modified my painting to make it seem a bit more three dimensional. This year's image isn't quite so malleable. (I'm using Door in San Miguel, a painting I no longer own.) Plus, The Center for Hearing and Speech has asked for a 10 inch by 10 inch replica of the 10 foot by 10 foot image that I'm drawing/painting on the street so that they can auction it to raise even more money.

In theory it's a great idea---auction off a smaller image of the giant street drawing. That way at least one person gets to go home with something that won't disappear in 48 hours, considering that everything gets washed off the street by the end of the second day. But drawing this smaller image has posed a bit of a problem.

In order to make the small "painting" as much like the street painting as possible, I painted the background of the Masonite board grey. I even went outside to copy the color of the street in front of our house to make sure that the small reproduction would be as similar to the finished street painting as possible. Then I thought it would be a good idea to use the exact same pastel chalks that will be used for the street painting. Well, this poses a problem with matching colors because the original original painting was done in oils. With oils one can create and endless variety of colors. But with pastels, one is limited in one's choice. Apparently there is a much greater variety of pastels on the market, but I am trying to reduce the overall cost of the whole event, and am planning to only use the pastels provided by the Center for Hearing and Speech for this event. This limits the accurateness of the drawing (small and large) quite a bit. Hence my frustration.

Monday, October 29, 2007


The exact date is uncertain, but right about this time three years ago I started painting. Three years and 108 paintings (more or less.) Here I am standing in Lawndale Art Center next to my latest painting to be exhibited and sold. A friend* of mine recognized that it was one of my paintings, not from the style, not from my name, but from the figure in the painting. He thought that it must be a relative of mine because he thought it looked like me so therefore I must have painted it. OK, it is a painting of my father's mother, and I've always thought that I look more like my dad than my mom, but how is it that Bob* could have possibly recognized the family resemblance?

At the absolute complete opposite end of the spectrum at the opening, I said hi to a new friend of mine who looked at me...thoroughly clueless.

"I'm Sarah Hazel," I said. "We met at such and such and this that and the other. Remember?"

Her eyes narrowed as she looked at me. With the slightest hint of acknowledgement she vaguely said, "Wow. I didn't recognize you. You look nice."

Friday, October 26, 2007

Dia de los Muertos

Tonight is the opening Gala and Silent Auction for Lawndale Art Center. Yesterday, Reese and I went to see the exhibit...partly because it will be so crowded at the opening tonight, but mainly because Reese has been working nights and can't be two places at once.

To recap, this is the exhibit for which I painted a retablo, or small devotional painting in the mexican tradition. All 240-ish retablos at the exhibit will be offered for sale; the proceeds benefitting Lawndale Art Center.

If you want to join me tonight, I have access to a few extra tickets, so call me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Gone With The Wind

One of the things I did last week while painting was listen to my Ultimate French Advanced tapes. After a particularly long day, I was telling Reese and Hilary about my attempts at learning French. Hilary asked me what I could possibly be learning from listening to tapes in which I don't understand a single word.

"What are you learning?" she asked.

Without a second thought I said in my best french accent, " I am learning 'ow to tawk like zeese."

However, the tapes didn't follow me to Hermann Park today. Houston has had an abrupt change in the weather, and from the comfort of home, the day seemed perfect for painting en plein aire. So, I loaded up the french easel (French is everywhere) and headed to the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park. What a pretty day; crisp sky, brisk wind.

It has been a l-o-n-g time since I last painted outside. Undeterred but slightly nervous (Reese calls it nervous excitement,) I methodically set up my work space. The paints were orderly laid out on the palette. The french easel was screwed together extra tight on account of the wind.

The initial start was sketchy, and by that I mean not so good. So I wiped it all off and started over. My second go was much better....but the wind was practically gusting. First, the turpenoid (odorless turpentine) spilled all over the palette. Not a huge deal, but then my paintbrushes started falling one by one in the dirt. OK. I can handle that, too, but as I was packing it all in to come home, the painting fell face the dirt, grass, leaves, and pine needles. All of nature represented in the Japanese Garden is embedded in what's left of the painting.

Reese received a text about my small misery. He texted back...wwmd? What would Monet do? :)

It's only a guess, but I think Monet would have gone inside for un verre de vin rouge. (That's french for a glass of red wine.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

French Lessons

For many years I have wanted to learn the french language. The great artists from the last couple of centuries studied in France, and invariably their paintings are most thoroughly described in french. The benefit would be great.

It just so happens that one of our new neighbors is French and she has graciously agreed to give me french lessons. Our first go was yesterday. Despite her patience, my thoroughly Americanized pronunciation of french words/phrases leaves a lot to be desired.

After she left, I walked a few blocks over to Half Price Books to search for any sort of help with regards to learning to speak french....mostly out of courtesy to Francoise. The poor dear might not want to return if I languish in leçon un for weeks on end.

There I was in the foreign language section and for the life of me I couldn't find anything regarding french. There was a sign that said that everything was alphabetized, but when I looked where "F" should be there were all these books on how to learn Greek. I know that F comes before G, yet I still looked to the right....Italian, Russian, slowly dawned on me that the F's would be left, but then there were books on German! Good grief. What's the deal?

It was a small moment of triumph when I discovered the french books---very properly alphabetized. Ah, I found the perfect set of lessons on tape; 8 sixty minute cassettes with an accompanying 400 page text book, in great shape at a modest price. Bought it. Came home. Put in the first tape. A long string of indecipherable french words came pouring through the atmosphere.


For someone who is a visual learner, I wasn't very observant. The program that I bought was ULTIMATE FRENCH ADVANCED. Not Beginning. Not Intermediate. Advanced.

Oh, well. C'est la vie.

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Raggedy Man

Prompted by a good friend, I'm adding "not necessarily art"-related stories to this blog. This other life of mine seems to eventually relate somehow to time spent working on art type things.

This is the story of Reese and me going to the airport a few weeks go to pick up the Shaws, whom I mentioned in the October 1st blog entry.

As we were driving to the airport, we noticed that the car was driving a little rough. We pulled off at the next exit to see if we had a flat, and noticed smoke coming out from under our hood. There was a Shell station at the next intersection; we pulled in to check under the hood. Sure enough---lots of smoke.

Reese went in the little convenience store attached to the gas station to buy some coolant. Then he pulled the suburban over to the water hose at the edge of the gas station parking lot to add the coolant....He had just gotten the hood up, and had added the water/coolant mixture, when out of nowhere a raggedy old man appeared. Looking under the hood, he said,

"You have a problem with your thermostat. I can fix it."

In his left hand, the tattered and timeworn fella held a bag of aluminum cans. He said that he had been out collecting cans when something (someone?) told him to walk toward us. He said that in a past life he had been a car mechanic. Then he opened up his right hand and much to our surprise, there in his filthy fist was a small supply of tools. Not waiting for permission, he immediately started loosening this and tightening that. He kept up a running commentary of the work he was doing and why it needed to be done. He crawled under the car, worked a bit more, looked under the hood again, tightened one last bolt....then said,

"Well. That should take care of it. You shouldn't have any more problems."

I asked if we should tow it home.(?)

He said,

"Lady, you could drive it to New York." (which is a long way considering we live in Houston, Texas)

Still a bit stunned from the suddenness of it all, we tipped the guy and drove off.

With extreme gratefulness in our hearts, we safely made it to the airport just in time to greet our friends as they walked out of baggage claim.

In case you are wondering, the car is fine.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Happiness is....

Monday, I bought flowers and set up a still life in the studio.

Tuesday, I re-arranged the still life endlessly, then mixed paint time and time again, never quite satisfied with the colors.

Wednesday, I worked on my resume, delivered a painting, and generally avoided actually painting....until late afternoon. And then, it happened. The joy, the excitement, the delight, and pleasure that sometimes happens when I paint overwhelmed me.

Such is happiness.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


As Winnie-the-Pooh says,

"It's so much more friendly with two."

There is no doubt that the weather in Houston is at it's best in the fall and spring....which makes those times ideal for plein air painting, or painting outdoors. Last spring--or maybe it was a year ago spring--Joan and Joan joined me in the Japanese Garden for a morning of painting. The camaraderie is great....just to have other friends who are compelled to paint like I am, and to cheer each other in our small artistic achievements. The two Joans are great encouragers.

This painting was the result of our day together.

"Crepe Myrtles at the Japanese Garden" has been auctioned (as of tonight) to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. All money from the sale of this painting goes to the Houston Chapter to help eradicate breast cancer through research, education, screening, and treatment.

Monday, October 01, 2007


A lot of people have been asking for an update, especially with regards to the Spice Show a whole weekend ago. It was a grand event, well attended and thoughtfully considered. Because of e-mail forwards, we had a whole group of old acquaintances come out to join us. Reese and I caught up on a few years worth of news from the old hood, which is always entertaining and amusing.

Last week, we had the delightful pleasure of hosting an *our parent's age* couple from England in our home. We chatted endlessly, giggled, and spent a day visiting the MFAH and Byzantine Chapel. Rosemary and David Shaw had never seen nor heard of Frederick Remington, the famous American painter, illustrator, and sculptor who specialized in scenes of the old wild west. The MFAH has several Remington paintings and one of his bronzes. Remington has an unique way of depicting light and/or darkness. One painting is full of soft greens to depict the moonlit night at an open corral on the high plains. It is a painting of a horse being surrounded by wolves in the darkness.

"It's quite fierce really. Yes. Shocking." (they both said with nods of approval.)

As some might recall, my art studio doubles as the guest room. The only complaint from Rosemary and David was that the room got a bit cold overnight. Everyone who sleeps in the studio says the same thing. I must remember to make up the bed with a nice warm blanket before you come spend the night.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Full Fall

There are several art related things on the calendar for the fall, the first being the Spice Show opening this Saturday at Elder Street Gallery.

On October the 4th, one of my paintings will be in the Susan G Komen Race For The Cure Pasta Party Silent Auction at the Westin Galleria. Tickets for the Pasta Party are available at Komen-Houston.

Something fun and new I'm working on will be in the silent auction for Lawndale Art Center's Dia de los Muertos Silent Auction on October 26th.

The Center for Hearing and Speech is hosting Via Colori on November 17th and 18th. Like last year, I am painting a 10 foot by 10 foot square on a street in downtown Houston. I have almost decided on an image to transfer for this HUGE disposable art. In addition to the painting on the street, Via Colori will also auction a smaller reproduction of the piece on the street, if that makes sense. So I will auction off a ten inch by ten inch painting, and draw a ten foot by ten foot giant painting of the same image on the street that will be washed off by the end of the festival. Someone will get to keep the smaller painting, though.

And I'm having a piece for sale in Bering and James for their annual Holiday Box Sale on December 1st.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Leaf Treader

I have been treading on leaves all day until I am autumn tired.
God knows all the color and form of leaves I have trodden on and mired.
Perhaps I have put forth too much strength or been too fierce from fear.
I have safely trodden underfoot the leaves of another year.

All summer long they were overhead, more lifted up than I.
To come to their final place in earth they had to pass me by.
All summer long I thought I heard them whispering under their breath.
And when they came it seemed with a will to carry me with them to death.

They spoke to the fugitive in my heart as if it were leaf to leaf.
They tapped at my eyelids and touched my lips with an invitation to grief.
But it was no reason I had to go because they had to go.
Now up, my knee, to keep on top of another year of snow.

Robert Frost

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Elder Street Gallery is hosting a nine woman exhibit called "Spice." It just so happens that I am one of the artists (!).... along with Susan Donaldson, Shelly Shanks, Jerrie Glidden, Bridget Vallery, Alissa Fereday, Sorange Castillo, Rose Marie Moore, and Susan Goettsche.

Instead of being Spice Girls, we are Spice Women. Call me Zesty Spice....or just call me.

The opening reception is September 22nd, 6-10pm. Every one is invited, of course. The gallery is located at 1101 Elder Street in the really old refurbished Jefferson Davis hospital. Drive around back to the gallery entrance.

"Whoever controls the spice controls the universe."
—Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, Dune

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Bertie On Our First Date

On July 4th, we were invited to an old fashioned Southern style Independence Day picnic where the guests were encouraged to bring a family dish AND include a photograph of the relative from whom the recipe came. This task first required looking through a very disorganized box of recipes. Having found a recipe for Mills' Homemade Ice Cream, the next order of business was to find a photograph of my father's mother, Gramma Mills.

Now, I realize it's very unlikely that this recipe was invented by my grandmother. And it's also very probable that it wasn't passed down from her, but I do remember going to her house in the summertime and eating homemade ice cream. She was really cute. She would get so excited in the kitchen when she was cooking for us. Sometimes she would have saved some snow ice cream from the previous winter....Now remember, I was young. The story was that since it didn't snow in our part of Mississippi, she would save some snow ice cream for us to eat when we came to visit. In my childishness, I imagined that all snow fell in drifts of colors and flavors. One would go outside in the winter and gather a bucketful of vanilla or strawberry snow ice cream to save for the coming year. I'm convinced that's why we tell our youngsters not to eat yellow snow....if it's yellow it must be lemon flavored, right?

The photograph I found was stuck in an old album. It's the only picture I have of Gramma Mills. She didn't still look like this when I loved her.

This is what she looked like when my grandpa first loved her, for on the back of the photograph, it says in a lovely script,
"Bertie on our first date"
Did my grandpa know *on his first date* that he was going to build a life with this woman?

For the last 20 years, the Lawndale Art Center has hosted a Dia de los Muertos exhibition inviting Texas artists to create a retablo, a small oil devotional painting. This precious photograph of my grandmother and what it signifies---the beginning of a life and love that is a huge part of the reason that I even exist---was the inspiration for the retablo I'm painting.

The plan for this piece is to have the Gramma Mills part in black and white (as shown below) to indicate life from the past. Then I plan to paint the background in color to show that love flourished and grew, and is still growing from this first date. The whole "family tree" aspect of the retablo will be suggested by a tree in the landscape. The finished piece will be auctioned in The Retablo Gala and Silent Auction for Lawndale Art Center on October 26. (I might need to buy this piece back.)

Mills' Homemade Ice Cream

6 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 can condensed milk
pinch salt
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 cartons whipping cream
1 pint half and half
2 cups milk - more or less - fill to line in machine

Ice and lots of salt
Also drain water as it turns

Friday, August 31, 2007

Studio Life

For various reasons, it's a tad bit difficult to concentrate on painting during the summer months. This summer has been no exception. A whopping two paintings were completed. Two.

This week has seen a flurry of activity in the studio, starting with a good late summer cleaning. While cleaning, it seemed like a natural time to re-arrange the studio as well, which turned out to be surprisingly inspiring. A renewed sense of purpose overcame me and I've been painting like crazy. OK, not like crazy, but there are three paintings drying on the easels right now. Two of those have quite a bit of work left, but the other one is mostly finished. (There was much rejoicing...yay.)

The painting that is mostly finished is a 12" x 36" box for the Bering and James Holiday Box Sale. It's the first time I've painted on a surface besides's a medium density fiberboard box purchased through the gallery. This is also the thing that I was ready to throw away because I found the *art* of applying gesso so complicated. I'm glad it didn't get thrown away, because it turned out to be quite a fun piece to paint. If it looks a bit fuzzy in the photograph,'s slightly exaggerated, but only slightly. For some reason the camera seemed to adjust itself to show what my eyes see, instead of a properly focused camera lens view. What's up with that?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Balboa Park

This painting might be finished....I've been working on it since early July.

Way back in the early 80's during my competitive running days was the first time I fell in love with Balboa Park. We (the University of Hawaii women's cross country team) had travelled to San Diego for a cross country meet. The crowd was massive as I remember it, and the weather was downright cold. Anything below 75 degrees is cold to someone from Hawaii. The course was beautiful....bright endless blue skies, rolling hills, dusty foot path, assorted wildlife, eucalyptus groves, and getting to run through it all. Life for me at the time didn't get any better than that.

For the Hazel family summer vacation we went to San Diego to see my little sister get married. While in San Diego, (stay classy San Diego) I really wanted us all to visit the park. My definition of San Diego included the words "Balboa Park."

Reese had us first go to the information center to pick up brochures which was a brilliant idea. He was a wonderful tour guide encouraging us to go see the Botanical Garden right before closing time. Enchanting is the best word to describe it. He also had us trekking through the woods of the park looking for geo-caches. The sky was still crispy blue as it had been years ago, and the trails still dusty. It couldn't have been a more enjoyable afternoon. [Left to right in the photo: Anna, Sarah (me), Reese, Hilary, and Erin. Joy is the photographer. We are standing just outside the Botanical Garden.]

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Great Grandma Heidelberg

My memories of Great Grandma Heidelberg are clearly fuzzy. But I've heard stories all my life. Stories that always start with laughter and when Grandma Heidelberg was alive, she...

-would have her maids wash the paper money and hang it on the clothes line to dry.

-had the whole household searching for her girdle only later to realize she was wearing it.

-burnt Grandpa Heidelberg's toast every morning. She wanted to be helpful and do something for her husband (instead of the maid doing everything.) He apparently never complained. Bless his heart.

Somewhere in the beginning of her life story she picked up a paintbrush. It was not unusual back in the late 1800's or early 1900's for a young lady's training to include proficiency in the arts. It is highly likely that she had some sort of art classes during her Belhaven College days from which she graduated in 1902. My mom told me once that she took art classes at a university in Shreveport, Louisiana in the 1950's. By then she was in her 70's! Pretty cool heritage. Mom said that all the college kids loved having her on campus.

So many people want to know how it is that I "found" painting given that I had no previous/formal training. I honestly don't know, but if artistic genes run through families, maybe someday I can live up to Great Grandma Heidelberg's a fun person and as an artist. She painted the three chicks (above) which is still my favorite painting of all time.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


Our family roots are buried deep in the soil of Mississippi. The earliest recorded ancestor in Mississippi was Thomas Christian Heidelberg who moved his family there in 1816. According to the Christian Heidelberg and Some of His Descendants family book,
"After many weeks of slow hard travel, the wagon train arrived at it's destination. Thomas Christian and his family rested their first night in Mississippi Territory with a hospitable and friendly Choctow Indian chief."

Once a year in late summer, the Heidelberg cousins gather together from all parts of the country for a family reunion. This has been going on for decades. What started out as a rather large picnic lunch back in the day has evolved into a small weekend of semi-organized festivities. Three reunions ago we all gathered in Natchez. One of the planned activities was a guided tour of Longwood.* While there I took several photos of the grounds with the thought of someday painting a part of my beloved Mississippi. Longwood is just off the Natchez Trace, and it's not too hard to imagine early relatives travelling the Trace with friendly Choctow Indians.

*All construction halted on this antebellum mansion at the start of the War Between the States. Even though the owner of the house and surrounding land had Federalist papers, when Union soldiers came through Natchez, they completely destroyed the property. What is left of Longwood is a sad reminder of the war and it's enduring impact that is still felt deeply in parts of the South.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Ex Post Facto

"Lemons and Christmas Cactus" sold before it was signed or photographed. The owners recently loaned it back so that it could be signed and photographed. Having it back in our home for a few days has been delightful. I forget how much I love and miss the paintings after they have gone to live somewhere else. It's a little bit like when one of my daughters comes home for a visit...I relish every moment they are here while rejoicing with them in their independence. The paintings/the daughters are no longer mine to care for or keep. It's right to let go, and equally important to enjoy the visit.

The lemons are from the Cooner's tree which produces it's fruit in December. The Christmas cactus was a gift from Fran on my 40th birthday, and is in full bloom---well, during the Christmas season. Joy, when she when a child, painted the clay pot as a Mother's Day gift. The sweet simple landscape scene she painted on the pot has disappeared over the years, and all that's left is the very faded powder blue rim. This is the third time the wooden bowl has been in a painting and the second time for the stoneware pitcher. The still life was set up in our *Ming red* dining room.

Monday, August 06, 2007

White Linen

Something I neglected to mention last week was that I was the artist in Wind Water Gallery for White Linen Night in the Heights on Saturday night. (The owners, Ross and Cathy Clark are very gracious and kind.) Houstonians came out in droves (at least as many a 15,000). Many thanks to our friends who came to Wind Water to support us.

Of course, I wore white linen guru pants and a white linen sleeveless shirt in keeping with the event. And as usual, forgot the camera...

Wind Water Gallery
548 W 19th, 713.426.4885,
Houston’s largest source of Asian Antiques. Paintings by Sarah Hazel, White Linen Night Bacardi Drinks.


Rough week of painting:

Somehow, I manage to not remember the same things every time I paint. I hardly ever remember to start with darks first. It's really hard to put shadows in a painting after one has started with lights. For some reason, I think that I can put on a color---and it will be true---and it will blend well. But when that color has a base of white in it, the other colors don't blend so well with it, especially if one is trying to add a darker shadow. This not being able to apply dark over light happens to me over and over again. Why can I never remember to start with dark colors and then add the lights?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Gesso Complicated....

Sweet Anna has moved to Austin. She's renting a house not too far from where Sister Erin lives and is continuing to create a wonderfully amazing life for herself and those around her. I love this for her....*really*'s just that I have known for some time how much I rely on Anna to answer all of life's art questions. Naturally, since she lives in Austin and I live in Houston, she is not here when I have questions. Questions like: How the heck am I supposed to use gesso? ['je-(")sO] And what's the deal with fixative?

By the time she arrived for a long weekend visit, I had googled gesso, read everything that wikipedia had to say about it, bought some, and understood that it should be used for the beginning stages of a particular project. But the how-to mechanics of it were not answered in any of the online research. (Gesso is a sort of primer/rabbit skin glue stuff used to prepare a raw surface to accept paint. Feel free to correct me if that's not right.) Anna is such a patient teacher and explains things so gently and graciously that when it is time to put to practice what she taught, it isn't as distasteful a task as I imagine. I was dreading using gesso. Whatever horror I had associated with using gesso was---only in my head. In reality it is a relatively painless process----many thanks to Anna's gentle explanation.**

There were/are a few chalk and charcoal sketches that I want to preserve, so I bought a spray fixative that is supposed to protect the surface of the work so that it doesn't smear. Anna said that I bought the wrong kind of fixative, that I needed the workable fixative (fixatiff?)because the "matte spray clear matte protective finishing spray for art/craft projects" will yellow with time. Why didn't the sales lady at the art supply store tell me that?

**In the immortal (or not) words of G.O.B. from Arrested Development:
I made a huge mistake using the gesso after writing the above paragraphs yesterday. The horror is real, not imaginary. Gesso is indeed agonizingly wretched and torturous (for me) to use. The grievous depth of this misery has caused severe pain and anguish. It will take ten times as long to correct the lamentable gesso mistake as it did to make it in the first place. My over-exaggerated, extreme dislike of insufferable gesso survives.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This Is Not A Pipe

First of all, a belated update on the One was packed. Reese and I had a great time meeting new friends and appreciate our *not new* (but not old) friends coming out to support us.

Secondly, a friend and I toured 10 museum/gallery spaces on Thursday. 10.

Rice Gallery has an amazing summer window installation by Mike Stilkey called When the Animals Rebel. Thousands of old book's spines become the canvas for whimsical portraits of animals and people. Please follow the link on this's worth it.

The Museum of Fine Arts Houston is classically a favorite. How can one go wrong at such a venerable institution? My friend particularly loves the impressionist era, so we focused our time on the Beck Collection and other impressionist paintings in the same area of the museum.

The Contemporary Art Museum was next with Black Light White Noise. It was like a children's museum for adults--very interactive. In one room there were giant 4' x 4' Plexiglas pods on the floor, that one was encouraged to enter. There was a lambskin fuzzy rug on the floor of the pod, and there were a few pillows around the perimeter on the inside...and headphones. A completely random story was playing in my pod about who knows what? I'm sure the piped in story was meaningful to the pod creator. Or not. Does it not seem that the goal of modern art is for it to be meaningless? The more meaningless it is, the more meaning we are expected to get out of it...right? Rene Magritte expressed this idea beautifully when he painted a pipe, and said about it, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe.", (or, This is not a pipe.), which is a painting we later saw in the Menil Collection.

"René Magritte described his paintings by saying,

My painting is visible images which conceal nothing; they evoke mystery and, indeed, when one sees one of my pictures, one asks oneself this simple question, 'What does that mean?'. It does not mean anything, because mystery means nothing either, it is unknowable." (excerpted from the Wikipedia article)

Friday, July 20, 2007

One Day, One Show, One Dress, One Nasty Critter, One Long Scream, One Tiny Poodle

The One Show opening reception is tomorrow night at Elder Street Gallery.

Sadly, I didn't paint yesterday because I was trying to figure out what to wear tomorrow night.

There is one dress that will work only if I do not sit down all evening because it's a bit short.

We live in an old house--not vintage, not antique, not shabby chic, just old. There are holes, ie., entry points for all kinds of critters into this old house. Mostly this is just a nuisance: sugar ants, fruit flies, an occasional cricket, slug, or roly poly.....but this morning there was a major nasty critter incident.

I was home alone at the time.

My throat is sore from screaming.

As cute as Disney and Pixar draw these critters, there is nothing *cute* about seeing one in a home environment.

Skipper was useless as a protector.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Here I am, at the end of a long stormy summer day, feeling full with satisfaction at a day's painting and equally full from a small cool supper. Some days it is more fun to paint than others, this being one of those days. I am especially pleased with the results of this day's labor.

This was also my first time to use the small glass top of a round table as a palette. The glass surface was very conducive to mixing paints, and slightly larger than any other palette I've used previously. Painting usually requires two palettes when this many colors are mixed. These mixed colors are all skin tones; cute, chubby, fleshy skin tones.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Gloppy Balboa

A while back there was a two for one sale on linen canvases at Texas Art Supply because they were phasing out linen canvases in favor of cotton. I got hooked on linen about a year ago. It's a wonderful surface, especially the smooth portrait grade. I bought more than I should have at the sale, especially considering that there weren't many of the smooth canvases left. Several of the linen canvases I bought are thick weave, which I had forgotten is a bit difficult to paint on, unless one gets gloppy. In order to cover the surface, the paint has to be thick and applied with a heavy hand. If it goes on too gently, the paint doesn't fill in the valleys between the weave. But when it's too gloppy, the paint gets all messy and muddy.

The landscape I'm working on now is from a photo of our time at Balboa Park in San Diego and is on one of these thick weave linen canvases. I've determined that the best solution for painting this one is to lay the paint on thickly, then wait a day or so for it to set, then paint another fairly thick layer. Hopefully this will continue to work well for keeping the colors clean, and covering the surface. This is also giving me a little extra time to make sure that the colors are working well together--deciding what to put where and all that.

Also, since I can only work in small chunks of time on the Balboa Park landscape, I am finally reworking a painting that had bothered me for some time. It's got a lot of work before it's suitable for viewing, but I'm already enjoying the bit that's been reworked. Maybe I won't have bad dreams about it anymore.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Game of Tag

Serg and Lis tagged me.

There are rules involved, well, not rules exactly; they are more like guidelines.

This particular game of tag is about sharing 8 random things about oneself, that people might not know.

Here goes.

1. Remember when it was fun to tell people how old you were, and you couldn't wait until your next birthday? I'm still like that. I'm 43 and a half.

2. For years, I deluded myself into thinking that I could sing and dance. Last summer, someone secretly videotaped Reese and me dancing, and I finally had to admit that my skills and gifts might not be inclined toward that area of the arts. This knowledge, however, has not dampened my enthusiasm.

3. My hair started going grey when I was 15. Even still, it used to be so black that it was blue black.

4. I've been a size 8 since I was in the 10th grade, even though I've gained at least 20 pounds since I graduated from high school. This must be because manufacturers and designers have expanded the waistline on clothes to accommodate growth, so to speak.

5. I have passed for many nationalities, the most unusual being a mixture of Chinese, Hawaiian, and Anglo, but have also passed for Greek, Italian, Spanish, Argentinian, and Jewish, to name a few.

6. More than once, people have asked if they could come watch me work, or do stuff. This seems slightly odd to me, but I've always acquiesced. The latest was last week when a friend asked if she could come watch me paint.

7. Almost from the moment of my oldest daughter's birth, I have been trying to decide on a grandparent name for myself (and Reese). Reese thinks "Leroy and Eunice" are good grandparent names. We are open to suggestions.

8. Reese has a sister named Sarah, so for many years until she married, there were two Sarah Hazels. Often my in-laws have mistaken me for her, especially in e-mail communications. Some of the things they have said to me, thinking it was her, were enlightening.

Once I tag you, please share 8 random things about yourself and then tag 8(or how ever many) friends to share on their blog, too. Please let them know, by commenting on their blog, that they have been tagged. Also, please don't feel obligated to play tag. That said,

"YOU'RE IT!" Mary, Michael, Howard, Nils and/or Araceli, Tricia, Laurie, Laura, and Charlton.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Three Goldfish

Today is the day I will deliver a few paintings to Wind Water Gallery in the Heights. These paintings will be a very small part of a much larger event called Heights First Saturday that happily coincides with Yale Street Arts Market.

The first greeters when walking in the door of Wind Water Gallery are three cheerful goldfish eager to start a conversation. They are swimming--pratically running--in an old carved marble feeding trough that has found a new purpose as their home. Our chat went something like this:

Goldfish: "Hey! Hey! Hey! Down here--we're down here. Look at us."

Me: "Wha--?"

Goldfish: "Hello! Hello. Hello. Welcome to Wind Water Gallery. Have you ever been here before?"

Me: "Huh?"

Goldfish: "It's great....lot's of Asian antiques, jewelry, silk, and your art, right? Oh, oh, of course. You're the new artist."

Me: "Um....yes."

Goldfish: "Hey. How about tossing some food in here for us?"

Me: "Food?"

Goldfish: "Please? Pretty please? Pretty pretty please?"

Me: "OK."

Goldfish: "Oh, thank you thank you thank you. You're a nice lady."

Me: "Thank you. And you all are nice goldfish."

Friday, June 29, 2007

Art Investment

This relatively small pile of art supplies cost $180.39 with a 20% discount! Granted, these are higher quality paints, which is the most expensive part, but this is a fairly common occurrence when buying art supplies. Not only does an artist's heart, soul, blood, sweat, and tears (some paintings are more frustrating than others to finish) go into creating work, there is a huge monetary investment as well.

The high cost of art supplies is why my next stop for a few household incidentals was here. The 99 cent only store rocks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Curly: You know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: This.
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and everything else don't mean ****.
Mitch: That's great, but what's the one thing?
Curly: That's what you've got to figure out. (excerpted from City Slickers)

One thing *for sure* is the one show of which I will be a part for one week in July.

Elder Street Gallery is hosting One Show to pay tribute to Houston's rather large art community.

Featuring 40 of Houston's best artists, One pays tribute to Houston's growing art scene. Each of the 40 artists from the greater Houston area will exhibit one single painting in the show. The artists want to promote the fact that Heights, Corridor, Montrose, West U., Downtown, and outlying area artists are working and showing together. This unified front will hopefully present a more cohesive art scene to Houston at large rather than a bunch of fractured little territories (at least for one week in the One Show.) The artists' vision is to focus on the convergence of Houston's various art communities into One.

The opening reception will be on Saturday, July 21, from 6-10 p.m.

Elder Street Gallery is located at 1101 Elder Street, (from Houston Ave., head east on Dart Street to Elder Street) in the Inner Corridor, near I-45 and I-10. Admission and parking are free of charge. For more information, call (281) 250-4889 (or visit the Web site.)

The exhibit runs one week through July 28.

Artists Include: Alex Wilhite, Dan Mitchell, Anila Aghax, Ray Phillips, Nathaniel Donnett, Marie Weichman, Lorena Femande, Shelley Shanks, John Mercado, Lilibeth Andre, Allan Rodewald, Keith J. R. Hollingsworth, Van McFarland, David Brown, William Panzer, Dune-Micheli Patten, Bridgett Vallery, Sarah Hazel, Julie Zarate, Cintia Rico, Mary Ann Lucas, Heidi Powell Prera, Max Boyd Harrison, Dune Tencer, Lacey Crawford, Sergio Santos, Jerrie Glidden, Alissa Fereday, Martin de Vore, Matt Adams, Solomon Kane, Xsemaj, Sorange Castillo, Mitch Cohen, Victoria Lewelling, Richard Varela, AimiDunn, David Weaver, Susan Goettsche

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Instead of buying a refrigerator magnet and /or t-shirt (umm....I did buy an In-N-Out Burger t-shirt) on our most recent trip to San Diego for my little sister's wedding, we shopped for local art. Strolling through Coronado's Art in the Park, and then Balboa Park, we happened upon a plein aire gallery in Spanish Village Art Center. There was one piece in particular called "Among the Eucalyptus" by San Diego artist David Ainsley that I liked. It was painted near La Jolla in an eucalyptus grove in autumn, and is especially lovely (to me). It will cost as much as a multitude of refrigerator magnets when and if I buy it, which is very likely, because I was drawn to it.

Here's my favorite wedding photo. I think this is where my dad, the father of the bride and the preacher, is telling Chris, the groom and my new brother-in-law, that it's not time to hold my sister Elizabeth's hand, yet. Chris could hardly wait to have and hold his bride, as if they were already connected by an unseen force. It amused everyone.

Hurry up, Dad. The force is strong with these two.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Think, Think, Think

Between typical end of school year activities and the normal business of life, there hasn't been much (any) time to paint. And with everyone (the daughters) out of the house for a few days, I naturally assumed that there would be five days of painting to my heart's content.

Not so.

What happened?


People often ask how long it takes me to finish a painting. There's no one answer. Sometimes, like now, I dream of painting-literally, but schedules get whack and I just don't have the time. Does the whole thought process count in how long it takes? Because I think about painting, and think how to plan the next painting, and think how to re-work a painting ALL THE TIME....maybe a bit like Winnie-the-Pooh.

*“When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.”

"I don't see much sense in that," said Rabbit. "No," said Pooh humbly, "there isn't. But there was going to be when I began it. It's just that something happened to it along the way."*

*A. A. Milne

Monday, June 04, 2007

Art Splash

A few times a year, all the galleries just off the northwest corner of Richmond and Kirby have opening receptions on the same night. Houstonians come out in droves, and since all are within walking distance of one another, it's an art party for a few hours on a Saturday night.

This weekend's opening was slightly dampened by the burst of a summer storm shortly before go time. The skies cleared and instead of pouring rain, the galleries poured wine, and all was well.

Being creatures of habit, Reese and I started our trek at Goldesberry Gallery to see the installation of Kathleen Holmes "Dresses." We always go to Goldesberry first. Oliver and Nancy Goldesberry are extremely nice, and the art and craft they display is entertainingly quirky. Some day, I will buy something from Oliver.

Then we hit Thornwood Gallery, Dean Day Gallery, Hooks-Epstein Gallery, McMurtrey Gallery, and were on our way to the last stop for the night, Moody Gallery, when a car drove by and puddle splashed the lady walking in front of us. What a shame. Possibly because of the abundance of wine and the necessity of walking, she took it all in stride.

Our evening was topped off by joining new friends for a light supper at Sonoma, a new wine bar on Richmond. The shower of laughter refreshingly harmonized with the damp night air and the merriment of the evening lingers still.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Hilary, Hilary, and Me

Last night's opening reception at The Glassell School of Art 2007 Studio School Student Exhibition was packed. The painting of my sweet daughter, Hilary, was accepted, and will be on display in the gallery until July 25th.

There is a wide variety of art to see besides my little painting--I highly encourage all to attend.

Where: 5101 Montrose Blvd (across from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston).
When: The gallery is open daily from 9 to 5.

By the way, Hilary has the voice of an angel and incredible comic timing. She makes me laugh when she tells her stories, and cry when I hear her sing.

Friday, May 25, 2007


This is my 99th finished painting and my 100th blog post.

Michelle is a young friend of mine. She has been known to bake for three days straight, then load up all the goodies, and give them to Houston's homeless just because she enjoys baking--and serving. In this painting, Michelle is learning how to bake her grandmother's cookies, a family favorite.

There are a few themes that artists have explored over and over throughout the years, working in the kitchen being one of them. For some time I had wanted to paint a *Young Lady Baking.* Not just anyone, but a scene of someone who "likes" to bake as in "I like to breathe."

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Too Two Blurry

In between the frantic moments of installing our artwork for the final, Anna and I managed to get a few photos of our walls. Actually, it was Anna who was prepared with a camera, and while usually not quite so inept, I managed to semi ruin several photos of her in front of her artwork. The photos with Anna in them ended up blurry--poor thing. I feel awful.
These top two photos are Anna's submissions of her work for our life drawing final. On the right are her 10 minute sketches, on the left side are her 20 minute sketches, and in the bottom left corner is her project series. For her project series, Anna cut some quarter inch plywood to size, and dyed those pieces in *strong* tea for the mount. Then she cut open Arizona Ice Tea cans and etched and drew her figures on the inside of the aluminum can, which she then affixed to the tea dyed plywood. The cute fuzzy young lady in the red t-shirt is sweet Anna.

These last two photos are of the wall of work for my final. The eight drawings on the left are the 10 minute or less sketches. The small sketch to the left of the reclining nude is a quick study of Patrick while he was demonstrating how to draw feet. Three of these eight I did on the last day we had a model in class.

Above my head and to the right are my 20 minute sketches. The sketch on the yellowish paper to the right of the reclining nude is a friend who graciously posed while our husbands were playing the guitar together. Thank you, Debra.

And these are the portraits I did of my daughters for my project series. Since the end of class, I have re-worked Erin (top left), Hilary (bottom left), and Joy (bottom right). I have plans to re-work the background in the Joy portrait a little more....

One of these paintings was my submission for the exhibit. I'll find out by Friday if it was selected.

Which one would you have chosen?

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Where's Waldo?

For 60 years, The Center for Hearing and Speech has helped children go from a life of silence to a world of sound. Yesterday, CHS hosted a Donor/Volunteer Appreciation Picnic that included music by the Allen Oldies Band, door prizes, children's activities, fajitas, and margaritas. Because of my participation in Via Colori last November, the Center's fundraiser, I was invited, and with a tag line including the word margaritas, who wouldn't go?

The delightful surprise I got when looking at the new brochures for the upcoming Via Colori fundraiser was this!

If one looks carefully, in the top right corner of the photo in the middle of the brochure, there is a man in jeans and a red and blue striped polo shirt. That's Reese! And if one looks even *more* carefully, the person standing beside Reese, to his right, in jeans and a light pink t-shirt wearing a black baseball cap, is me!

The 100 square feet on the street in front of us "painted" in pastels, is the giant bit of artwork I worked on that day.

Here we are again! Click on the Via Colori link above to see our photos of the event.

Due to temporary insanity, I've agreed to participate as a select artist in the next Via Colori. Remind me to start stretching months in advance.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sophie's Choice

To paraphrase Patrick, he says that one of the best ways to gain credibility as an artist is to enter competitions, exhibitions, and contests. How and where do artists find out about these events?

Recently (yesterday) I did enter one in the series of portraits of my daughters in an exhibition. The competition is mighty fierce. When dropping off the painting, the guard dog, er, excuse me, guard lady in the room was quite forceful (barking, really) in not allowing anyone to see the other entries. But paintings were everywhere....large, small, hyper realism to complete abstract modern and everything in between. Many, if not most were extremely well done. It will completely be the judges' fancy that selects pieces from such a broad variety of two and three dimensional work.

The hard part for me was selecting which daughter painting to put in the show. It seemed highly discriminatory to have a preference for which painting to use, especially since I gave birth to the whole bunch, so to speak. On the way to drop off the painting, the options were narrowed to two "daughters" in the backseat. First I went to the store to pick up a few non perishables......then on to Diedrich's to buy my favorite morning cappuccino coffee blend, Weiner Melange--mmmm. All this stalling was because I STILL could not commit to which painting to enter. Not until the very absolute last minute did I make a choice. Oh, the dilemma!

There is a definite crowd favorite of the four paintings of my daughters, but for this particular exhibition I picked a different one. Who knows if it's what the the judges will like? I like it as does said daughter, and since it's her likeness in oil on linen, I guess that's what really matters.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Fat Lady Sings

Since last Thursday I've been incredibly busy putting together and finishing my portfolio for the final in the life drawing class, which was yesterday. Tuesday night, this painting of Hilary (one of my project series) was still slightly wet---that's how down to the wire I was. For the 20 one hour sketches in our sketchbook, finishing was like trying to reach a carrot dangling from a fishing pole just beyond reach. (Hmmm, that must make me the....donkey.) It seemed like I always had one more to do, even as I finished new sketches. Honestly, I can't tell you how many times I counted and re-counted to make sure I had enough, all the while drawing more. The hours turned to days before I got a bite of that carrot.

What happens for the final is that everyone takes a turn putting up their finished sketches/drawings/gestures on a foam board wall and Patrick critiques. There are two walls for this purpose, so while one student's work is discussed, another student is putting up their work on the other wall. My "show" was next to last, right after Anna's, which meant that I was furiously trying to get my wall set up while Patrick was discussing Anna's work. Bummer. I really wanted to hear what he had to say about Anna's stuff, but I missed the whole thing.

Patrick asked me after looking at my wall,

"So, why did you take this class?"

Many people have asked this, so I've had all semester to think about it. The best answer I can come up with is that I wanted to stretch (see last post) my abilities and test my skill level to see if I could really do it. There's always been a mystery about drawing the naked human body, and now there's not. It's easier now to quickly see what information needs to be interpreted, it's easier to quickly sketch this information, and hopefully this will translate into some amazing paintings, though not necessarily paintings of nudes, in fact, probably Never Nudes.

Taking the class with my daughter is on my top ten list of most favorite experiences of all time--no question.

After class, Anna and I hosted a small party at our house. It was great to relax and visit with everyone in a different environment. We served yummy wine, good beer, Barefoot Bubbly, and grapefruit crostini, recipe courtesy of Michael McAfee. (I'll add a link to the recipe soon. It's good!)

Small disclaimer for mom and dad and others sensitive to the published nude drawings, you will want to stop reading and looking at this point. Really, stop now or forever hold you peace.

This will likely be the last nude drawing for quite some time.


Thursday, May 03, 2007

Sketching Is Stretching

There are few things I dislike as much as stretching. In the exercise world, I would much prefer to just go run. Maybe bend a little at the waist and pretend to stretch, but I don't go out of my way to stretch when in a religious running stage. (not an issue these days)

In the last two and a half months, I've drawn well over 250 sketches. Up until now, I had maybe filled a sketchbook and a half---maybe. And even some of that has been in the last year or so. Of late, even that was just testing composition before starting a painting, which tends to get muddy with excessive manipulation. In these last two months, I've bought and almost filled nine sketchbooks.

Reviewing these nine sketchbooks looking for stuff to use in the final portfolio for this life drawing class, I'm a little dumbfounded that it's difficult to find worthy representations of the work done in class. What I perceived as slightly above average two months ago now seems barely passable.

Perhaps it ties in somehow with my attitude toward stretching---wanting the benefits of the program without regard for the preliminary exercise, if you will. Since in the exercise/running world I am such a wimpy stretcher, I guess it stands to reason that in the drawing/painting world I would be a sketchy sketcher. Characterizing this trait as eagerness seems to have a more positive connotation than say, impatience or lack of discipline. Character flaw or's curious how it transcends both worlds in a similar way.

(Pssst! It was the same with piano lessons growing up. I never liked practicing scales (who does????) preferring just to learn songs and melodies, especially boogie-woogie.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

End Times

Today was Frederick's last day to pose for our class before moving to San Francisco. He has very pleasant eyes, and a quick and ready smile. Some of the ladies in the class especially enjoy sketching Frederick....Perhaps it has something to do with those pretty eyes, his sense of humor, or his awesome physique?

Also, we spent a great deal of time discussing the requirements for the final.
Each student needs to complete:

~ 20 one hour homework interpretive sketches (these can be copies of other artists work,)

~ 8 ten minute gesture drawings--presumably done in class, and

~ 8 twenty minute *finished* gesture drawings, and then the

~ 4 project series related drawings, for which I am painting my daughters portraits.

Then Patrick discussed what *finished* means. First, with clean hands clean up the pieces by erasing fingerprints and messy edges. Next, make sure the composition is pleasing, which might require some scissor-type editing. Then he talked about hot spots and edges, and this is where I got lost. There was something about planes being near each other.....(?)

"Neighboring planes cannot share light (like?) values."

I kept envisioning John Candy in Planes, Trains, & Automobiles when Patrick was talking about planes. Even now I'm shaking my head. What?!

When class was through, Frederick had us all pose for him and he took a photo of us! It was really cute.

Que Dios le bendiga.

Monday, April 23, 2007


This is what I've been working on lately. These are almost finished portraits of my oldest and youngest daughters, but are part of a series of all four daughters. I've started on Hilary (the 3rd), but haven't begun the painting of Anna (2nd), yet. I've been wanting to paint my daughters for a while, but probably wouldn't have started these paintings, except for this life drawing class. In order to make a good grade in the class, we need four related completed drawings. How much more related can you get than sisters?

Thursday, April 12, 2007


Yesterday was the first time that nude model David came to our class to pose. He was great! I enjoyed the freshness of the different poses, and he was still (like an apple.)

"Like an apple" reminds me of how hungry I was. Class starts at 1 o'clock and usually I'm pretty well fed before getting there. But the coffee bean supply at home was depleted as were some art supplies, so before class I ran a few errands. During the first break, I went to the vending machine (yuck--not recommended) to buy some snacks. While at the vending machine buying Chex Mix and M&M's, a man in our class, Camron, also buying snacks, spoke up. He said,

"Your daughter really helped me understand how to draw faces when we were in lab on Friday. She told me (?--blah blah) and it was like a breakthrough moment for me. Now I'm drawing faces better than I ever have."

It's great to see others appreciate how wonderful Anna is. Without Anna in that class, I would be muddling through. Not only is she delightful, but extremely helpful. She has a way of explaining things in a patient understandable way. She's a natural.

The focus of this class was on how to draw hands. I followed along well enough with the instruction this week, making sure to concentrate from the beginning. Patrick talked about the palm of the hand being like a 4 inch by 4 inch by 1 inch box, with an attached turkey leg (the thumb,) and four fingers made of balls and ovals. That visual word picture helped with the practice hand, but when it came time to sketch during the pose, trying to remember that "formula" held me back a little. Patrick also was talking about the techniques of how to do what and which tools to use. During classroom intermission, I asked if he would please explain what he meant(?), as this class (not this class specifically, but the general life-drawing class) was the first time I have used pastels/chalk. He said something about erasers and vine charcoal, and something else. Hmm, better ask Anna about all that, too.

Good grief, the music in class was driving me nuts! After what seemed like an eternity of horrible music, the theme from Hawaii 5O came on and energized the atmosphere....then Wipeout and at least 4 more surf music songs. Anna was at the easel next to me, and it was obvious that she was enjoying the surf music, too. She and I both started dancing in place. Even my hands were drawing to the surf beat. Imagine that.

(Chex Mix-75 cents. M&M's-60 cents. Minty gum to freshen breath after vending machine snack-50 cents. Not being hungry in class-priceless.)