Friday, September 30, 2011

Gin and Tonic

Every now and then, not very often, I volunteer for the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft. I'm not sure why they let me do this. Maybe they'll figure out how easily distracted I am someday, but until then, I'm a very enthusiastic and friendly (but easily distracted) volunteer.

It just so happens that I volunteered to help with their annual fundraiser last week, Martini Madness. (It was SO much fun.) When the guests arrived, they were to select a hand crafted martini glass for the evening -- sort of a grown up party favor. One of my jobs was to make sure the glasses were easily reachable and neatly arranged on the table. Piece of cake.

Another job for the night was to bus tables. Again, a super easy job, but a surprisingly social one. I kept bumping into people I knew and chatting with those I didn't....which made the "work" fun.

Now, I'm not a martini drinker, but I do enjoy a good gin and tonic, which, when I asked, were not available. Turns out that I wasn't asking the right person. When the right person found out that I like gin and tonics, within 15 seconds, a gin and tonic was in my hand. Since my dad reads this blog, I'll go ahead and confess that I had my first gin and tonic when I was in high school. (Dad, thanks for sending me to Our Redeemer Lutheran. Good Lutherans sure do know how to drink. I can literally hear my dad groaning and saying, "Oh, my.") Really, I was only going to have a sip, since I was a volunteer worker and all, ah, but that was the best gin and tonic I've had in years. So good.

My last job of the night was the final clean up. But by then, I had been visiting with a table of friends, and that gin and tonic was on top of a glass of wine or two (or three). For whatever reason (?), I kind of forgot to be a diligent helper at the end of the night. And besides, one of my new friends wasn't drinking, and when she offered to drive me home, which was a need, I gratefully accepted.

That was a week ago. Tonight, there's another event at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, and I volunteered to count the people who attend. I have absolutely no OCD tendencies AT ALL. And I'm easily distracted (but enthusiastic and friendly). I just hope that I can focus long enough to count people coming in, smile, be friendly, have ONE glass of wine, and not get fired from this volunteering job. Oh, I've got to be there in 30 minutes....better get ready.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Heart 2 Heart

For those who have been following my art heart slow progress, it is no longer pink. The background was pink for a so long that it started to look like a giant candy Valentine. It screamed, "BE MINE!" I just couldn't leave it that way. So, now the background is blue, AND happy.

It's drying for another day or two before the final clear coat gets sprayed on it to protect it from the weather.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tilly, the Wonder Dog

Tilly, the Wonder Dog, actually smiled for her volunteer badge photo at Methodist Hospital today. She's becoming a pet therapy pro. Even though we've gone on a dozen or so visits with the Faithful Paws group -- we've also gone to a couple of assisted living facilities and DePelchin Children's Center -- this was only our second time to go to Methodist Hospital.

The last time we went to Methodist, Tilly did a great job of propping her two front paws on the bed to let the hospital patient pet her. This time, there were no special requests to go to particular rooms, so we went to the surgical waiting room. From the outside looking in, it was obvious that everyone was on edge, tense with worry waiting to hear that all was well with their loved one. The mood visibly lightened when we walked in with our pets. It was remarkable! You could see the tension melting away as we walked our dogs around and visited. Over and over, people thanked us for bringing our pets to the hospital.

It's really fun to take Tilly places that people don't normally go with animals. She is so sweet, gentle, beautiful, and well behaved. People can't help but fall in love with her. She seems to understand that she goes to these places to let people meet her, pet her, and maybe scratch her under her chin. She was especially good today. It's like she knew that people needed to be comforted.

We live about a mile from Methodist, so we walk there and back. It's still quite hot here in Houston -- about 95 degrees today (feels like 100) -- so by the time we got home, poor sweet Tilly was exhausted. She is taking a well deserved nap. Good girl, Tilly. Good girl.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Reese Hazel, Actor

My husband, the Amazing Reese, is a movie star! Well, at least he has his own IMDb page from a movie he was in in 1992. (I Googled his name. You know you do it, too.) So cool.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


Oh! This is the fifth year (five years -- wow) that I will participate in Lawndale Art Center's Dia de los Meurtos Retablo Exhibition. Each year, the artists are given an 8" x 10" piece of sheet metal that must be used to create some sort of retablo, or tribute to a loved one.

When creating a traditional retablo, one becomes emotionally attached to it. At least I did. For that first retablo,(seen here -- 2007), I painted a portrait of my grandmother who died when I was 10-ish. Of all the art I have created over the years, THAT is the one piece that I would like to buy back. Well, maybe some day.....

My idea of how to incorporate the sheet metal in the retablo has evolved over the years. That first year, my retablo was very traditional in thought and execution. The subsequent years retablos are here -- 2008, here -- 2009, and here -- 2010. This year, I'm "sort of" copying a painting of's an interpretation of childhood.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Help Sarah Buy Art Supplies

Don't know what to get Aunt Edna for Christmas? Run out of ideas for hostess gifts? Be my patron!

For a $20 donation to the Help Sarah Buy Art Supplies Fund, you will get a lovely 8 piece set of Sarah Hazel Art note cards. Seven of these sets are available.

For a $25 donation, you receive a 5" x7" painting of an oak leaf.

For a $35 donation, you receive a 6" x8" painting of oak leaves. Two 6" x 8" paintings available.

For a $45 donation, you receive an 8" x8" still life painting. Three 8" x 8" paintings available.

For a $55 donation, you receive an 8" x 10" still life painting. Two 8" x 10" paintings available.

For a $65 donation, you receive a 9" x12" painting. Four 9" x 12" paintings available.

For a $75 donation, you will receive a 12" x 12" still life painting. Only one 12" x 12" painting available.

These smaller paintings really are lovely wedding, birthday, hostess, and Christmas gifts. They can easily fit in a bookcase or on a smaller wall. All paintings are done in oils. Of these, there is a variety of linen and cotton canvases. Any possible shipping costs are the responsibility of the donor. Yes, that's my left foot in the photo. Yes, I'm standing on the dining room table.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Heartful Thinking

Well, this is a start....for the heart. The American Heart Association asked me to turn this heart shape into a work of art for one of their "Go Red for Women" patrons. This is what I've done (so far) based on the patrons answers to some very basic questions I asked her -- things like what's your favorite flower, color, artist, etc. (Guess what her favorite flower is?)

Because I painted a practice study (seen on the wall behind the giant pink heart), it was not quite as scary to paint these rather large calla lilies on the art heart. And because I painted another giant heart not too long ago, it wasn't as scary to get started painting this one.

As ridiculous as it might sound, it took every ounce of my brain power to come up with what you see in these photos. It isn't finished. It's in a let-the-paint-dry-for-a-few-days-before-I-do-anything-else phase. My brain is working overtime trying to think of what to do (and how to do what) next. This quote from Mohandas Gandhi seems to go along with how I feel about this project at this point, though I'm pretty sure he wasn't talking about a giant six foot tall Styrofoam heart shape:
Culture of the mind must be subservient to the heart.

Friday, September 02, 2011

Gesso You Know

Every now and then, instead of painting on an already prepared surface, I need to use something raw. A raw surface can be anything from board, Masonite, unprimed canvas -- you name it. Raw surfaces need to be prepared so the oil in the paint doesn't absorb into the surface and therefore change the composition (and color) of the paint.

But I never remember which product to use -- gesso (pronounced jess'-oh) or primer. (?) So I Googled it. This site, Spaces Between the Gaps, was full of particularly helpful information. In the "all about gesso" section toward the bottom of the article, I more or less determined that Liquitex acrylic gesso would be the right thing to use for what I was doing....more or less. (It was a long article -- lots or words.)

For this particular art project (in the works), I bought a sheet of hardboard Masonite from one of my favorite hardware stores. (I love hardware stores.) After measuring, I used a skill saw to cut the Masonite down to size, and then lightly sanded the smooth surface. After sanding, I applied two layers of Liquitex acrylic gesso, with drying time in between.

By and large, the general impression of the life of an artist is a romantic one. Even though all of that prep work is part of the artistic process, there's nothing creative about doing it. It's very basic and even mundane. Before a runner races, she/he exerts considerable sweat, effort, and miles in preparation for a race. Just like the runner, SO much of being an artist is hours and hours of basic prep work. Hopefully, it all adds up to something wonderful and truly creative when we finally reach the finish line. In the meantime, it's gesso much work.