Monday, February 28, 2011

Everything's in Bloom....

Even though I have a lot to do to get the big heart ready for its official debut in a few weeks, it's hard to resist the blossoms in the yard right now. This is another quince, which is in full bloom in the garden. This painting is 9" x 12" oil on linen. (I might HAVE to paint the redbud tree tomorrow. It's absolutely glorious.)

The red on the big heart is just an undercoat for the real painting, which I'll start any day now....depending on whether or not I can resist those redbud trees. :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

The Process

Years ago, at the suggestion (prodding) of a few friends, I started this blog as a way to talk about the artistic process. Several years after that, at the suggestion (prodding) of another friend, I started adding everyday stories to mix it up a little as the artistic process gets quite boring at times. This is one of those times.

The big heart that was delivered on Tuesday is commanding a huge amount of studio floor space, air space, and space in my brain. Before it was delivered, I had a really brilliant idea of how and what to paint on it. After seeing it, however, that idea flew out of my head like a butterfly caught in a hurricane. It has taken the better part of the week to sketch and draw idea after idea hoping for another lightbulb moment of inspiration.

Sometimes during this phase of an art project, I'll tone the canvas with a relatively neutral undercoat so that the surface isn't stark white....just to do something. But it just so happens that the big heart was coated with interior paint, so someone came over here yesterday and repainted it with exterior paint....and this being humid Houston and all, the big heart is still not dry. More than 24 hours later it's damply sticky. Which means that one more day goes by without putting color on this big heart....which is both good and bad. It's good because hopefully I can refine the heart design and perhaps fully map out what to do. It's bad because I work in oils. Oil paints take longer to dry than acrylics. On top of that, this big heart will need some sort of finishing coat on it to protect it from the elements, as, when all is said and done, it will most likely live outdoors. All of these steps take time. Time. Time! This project needs to be fully, completely, and in all ways finished and delivered by March 21st. Yikes.

That was the boring art process story.....

This is the fun art story. Since the big heart project is on pseudo hold, I took time to paint the quince blossoms from the back yard. It's such a happy little bush when it blooms. This is an 8" x 8" oil on canvas.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Heart Delivery

Be still my beating heart. As the Amazing Reese always says, it's not nervousness, it's nervous excitement.

Hmm, no surprise here, but I'm a little fuzzy on the particulars of this project. All I remember from the phone conversation is that the painted heart will be donated to some event for the American Heart Association. It's an extreme honor to have been asked to be a guest artist for the event, whatever it is.

The heart (to be painted by yours truly) is six feet tall including the pedestal and rolling base. The painting surface of the heart part is over three feet tall and three feet wide.

Better put on my thinking cap and get busy. It needs to be completed by March 21st. That's only one short month away.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Tilly caught her first fish today. I was amazed, proud, and slightly disappointed all at the same time. Poor little fish.

Tilly pulls when we go for walks so this week we've been focusing on leash manners. All of the dog training advice says to keep changing direction when the dog starts pulling. We change direction so often that we end up walking in circles. I get dizzy.

Yesterday, I strategically placed lawn chairs in the back yard so that we could practice her following my lead without the distractions of being on the front sidewalk. We walked in and around the chairs over and over again. We do all right together until she sees a squirrel.

This afternoon Tilly was on her leash tethered to the lawn furniture while Hilary and I worked in the front yard. She chewed clean through her leash....twice. Her actions can't have anything to do with leash manner training....can they?

Tilly is napping at my feet as I type this. When she sleeps she relaxes. When she's relaxed, she toots. Right now it STINKS in here. Guess what just happened.

In addition to all of the Tilly training, I did take time to paint. "Big Trees" is both true to life and filled with imagination, if that makes sense. It was the neighbors trees that I wanted to paint, not the cars, houses, and trash cans around it. So after the tree shape was corrected, I took the painting to the studio. and then had fun with the rest of it. This painting might actually be finished. I'll let it sit for a week and then decide.

There was also time to work on chores. (House repair chore -- replace two tiles in bathroom and re-attach towel bar -- done.)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Something Fishy

If this sounds like a crazy lady fish is. I've trained the little gold fishes in our back yard pond to come when I call. (Here fishy fishy.) They are so friendly and not at all afraid when I put my hand in the water to pet them. Yes, I literally pet my fishes....AND talk to them. They like me.

Naturally, since the fish are so tame, if anyone (or anything) comes to say "hi" the fish gather at the surface to pass along greetings as well. Lately, the neighborhood cats have discovered the fish pond. The fish population has dwindled in the last few months from 15 healthy fish to five fish in various states of health. Some of the fish have completely disappeared (been eaten) and others been swatted by fish predators (cats) and now feebly drift along the bottom of the pond. It's so sad.

The Amazing Reese knew how distressed I've been about the poor fishes. For Valentine's Day, gave me a dozen little goldfish. I couldn't have been happier. He looked at me very seriously and said, "Now, please let me know how your new pet fish are getting along in the pond." Bless his heart. He KNOWS.

Poodles were originally bred to be water dogs, and when trained are highly efficient water retrievers. The day before yesterday, Tilly started noticing the goldfish in the pond. She's endlessly fascinated by them, and has spent hours watching them and running around the pond. She sticks the length of her nose in the water and blows bubbles at the fish. It's adorable. Because she's a water dog -- and honestly at this point I'm surprised that she hasn't jumped in the pond -- Tilly started playfully pawing at them. Uh oh. To the newly injured little gold fish limping at the bottom of the pond, I'm guessing that it wasn't so playful. But, at a dollar or so a dozen, we can keep the pond stocked with fish out the wazoo and Tilly can be the water dog she was created to be. Only, I guess these new fish recruits might not become my pets....oh well.

The weather was perfect yesterday for plein air painting. After working on the painting in the studio one day last week it was nice to be outside again. The painting is very incomplete -- not even close to being finished -- but since this was originally designed to be an art blog and not a Tilly blog, I thought that it best to throw in some art references.

Weekly chore update : replace outlet covers in living room and study -- done.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For Reese

Roses are yellow
Carnations are pink
I love a big fellow
who never wears pink

Sunflowers, poppies
iris and daisy
my love for this man
is borderline crazy

By that I mean it
grows and it grows
like flowers in summer
and pinkish primrose

It's Valentine's Day
but it feels like another
Fourth of July
my heart's all a flutter

My heart skips a beat
when he walks in the room
26 years and
our love still in bloom

What will we do
tonight for each other
Loving for ever
sweet nothings to utter

I cannot express
in one silly poem
suffice it to say
my heart is your home.

A daisy is white
a rose sure smells sweet
Let's have a bite
of something to eat.


Thanks for the dog
I sure do like Tilly
and thanks for the house
I mean it. Yes, really.

Thanks for the hard work
and loving me still,
thanks for our daughters
thanks for the thrills.

Thanks for the fun times
thanks for the sad
thanks for the life
together we've had.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Winter Weather Wimp

After sitting on the front patio for all of a minute to see if it was pleasant enough to work on the Big Trees painting, it was definitely too cold and windy. I opted to work inside instead. There is plenty to do on the business side of art, but I was in the mood for something more a bit more fun. Naturally enough, (for me anyway) thoughts turned to another creative outlet -- cooking.

Having written about roast chicken before, I searched this blog for a link to the recipe. Is it not a little bit strange that because I'm a winter weather wimp, it was almost exactly a year ago that I cooked my first roast chicken?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Big Trees

Wanting to stay home but still paint, I opted to set up on the front patio and paint the view of our neighbor's enormous live oak trees. Since it was the weekend and the Amazing Reese was home, there was considerable added benefit of being close to loved ones, a warm house, snacks, and a restroom.

At 30" x 30", this is by far the largest painting I've attempted en plein air. That's a lot of surface area to cover and with the unwavering predictability of the earth's rotation and therefore the constant changing shadows of the sun, it was difficult to "complete" the painting in one go. Plus, at about this point in the painting, when Reese decided to take Tilly for a walk, I quickly and without hesitation dropped everything to join them.

My artist cue on this one is influenced by Paul C├ęzanne. From what I've read of his painting habits, when he painted en plein air, he would go back to the same location and paint the same scene on the same canvas day after day until he got it right. Since the set up for this painting is literally in my front yard, hopefully there will be ample time to work on it this week until it's right.

Saturday, February 05, 2011


Chores are like weeds. They grow in spite of repeated attempts to get rid of them. The thing with house repair chores is that for every one that gets written on a list and consequently eradicated, more spring up in its place. It IS a wonderful thing the inside of our bathroom cupboard got painted yesterday. What became glaringly obvious afterwards was that all of the bathroom trim needs a once over. Minus one add one....this is progress?


No one ever said that these house repair chores would be exciting. Heavens, what could possibly be exciting about painting the inside of a bathroom cupboard EXCEPT our two dogs keeping me company and the satisfaction of a job well done? OK, maybe not well done, but certainly good enough.


When Hilary saw the "after" she said, "Everything is organized EXACTLY the same only exactly the mirror image." Well, she's mostly right. To be fair, I've never claimed organization as one of my strong suits. It is nice to have a fresh coat of paint on these walls and shelves, though.

This is me teaching Tilly to go into her cage at night.

This is Tilly saing, "Hey! Where did you go? I thought that we were in this thing together?"

We are, sweet Tilly. We're in this for life.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sunday School Art "Class"

For the last few Sundays, I've "sort of" supervised an art project in a kids Sunday School class at our church. The 4th and 5th graders were encouraged to create a painting that represented one of the names of God.

All I've really done in the "class" is talk to the kids about mixing paint colors and covering the entire canvas with paint. They really didn't need me for this project, but it's been fun helping the students a (very) little bit.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Paint and a Pint, Trick for a Treat

It's slightly overwhelming to think about, but last week I compiled a list of 80 household repair chores that need to eventually get done around here. It's probably idyllic to think that I can get one chore done a week -- but that's the idea -- one house repair chore and (at least) one painting per week. It sounds pseudo doable, right? So last Friday, I scraped and painted the back door.

Because it was glorious weather AND a Friday afternoon, after scraping and before painting, my neighbor, daughter Hilary, and I walked down to the pub for a pint. Besides, Sherwin-Williams was a block from the pub and I still needed to buy the paint for the back door.

The Gingerman serves a cask-conditioned Saint Arnold Elissa IPA that is truly divine. Just looking at this photo makes me thirsty. Yum.

One chore done, and 79 to go.

Our new rescue poodle Tilly gained four pounds just last week alone. Our 13 year old toy poodle Skipper only weighs four pounds in all! Tilly gained a Skipper's worth of weight. OK, the vet weighed him at four and a half pounds, but little Skipper was also wearing his sweater, collar, and leash at the time.

We're working on lots of new tricks and good behaviors with Tilly. One of the behaviors we're teaching her is to go into her kennel at night on her own without whining. To encourage this, we put a handful of dog food at the back of the cage. When she goes in to eat the food, we say, "Go to bed. Good girl Tilly. Good night," and close the cage door. Obviously little Skipper has noticed this ritual, because last night, just as I was getting a handful of food as enticement for Tilly, all four pounds of Skipper walked into Tilly's kennel and sat expectantly waiting for a treat. Of course I laughed. When he didn't get a "treat" right away, he performed another trick. It was adorable. That Skipper's a smart one. Who says that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?