Tuesday, December 03, 2013

These Three

It's interesting to see these three self portraits all together. The self portrait on the far left is from 2009. The story is here about how it happened on the day it was painted. The self portrait in the middle is from 2010, and when it was painted, I wrote about it here. And, of course, the portrait on the far right is from a couple of weeks ago.

I suppose it looks a little conceited to have these three self portraits all in a row. To be sure, I've painted myself time and time again -- not just these three. Why, you ask? Because it doesn't matter to anyone but me what it looks like in the end. I can experiment with color and technique, painting to my heart's content and no one complains. At the very least, with self portraits, it's not a "commission", which is, within reason, generally catered to the patron and is (or has been for me) more restrictive creatively to paint. Not that I'm complaining -- I love painting portraits. If I could paint only portraits from this day forward I'd be a happy woman.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Self Portrait at Age 50

When I decided yesterday morning that a great way to spend my 50th birthday was by painting a self portrait, who knows what romantic notions were going through that humidity puffed head of mine? Next time I do this, the easel has GOT to be closer to the mirror, because it was really hard to see my features, hence my wearing glasses. And it's not like the details need to be there exactly, but it is generally nice when a nose looks like a nose, and lips look like lips, and of course, that since it's a self portrait, that those features look like the ones on my actual face. 

So, yep, this is how I spent my 50th birthday. It's 14" x 18" oil on linen.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Yellow Brick Path

One of the recent guests to our home was the niece of Ray Bolger, who was the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. Her name is Chris, and she wrote a little memoir about her life, which was greatly influenced by her famous Uncle Ray. Reading Chris' book became the catalyst for Reese and me watching YouTube videos of Chris' Uncle Ray (in particular, a video of Judy Garland interviewing Ray Bolger - it's absolutely charming), it led to us watching the movie again, and for our 29th anniversary last month, the Amazing Reese gave me the first book in the collection of stories about the land of Oz. Reese is even reading a chapter aloud to me each night as we go to bed. (Just another example of why he is the Amazing Reese.) It's a fascinating book, and super interesting to get background information about how the Scarecrow became the Scarecrow, how the Tin Woodman became the Tin Woodman, and the stories of the flying monkeys, and well, everything. It's a really great story and we're both thoroughly enjoying it.

Because of the influence of Uncle Ray on my new friend and our consequent renewed interest in all things Oz, I've been thinking about how to create our own yellow brick road....because sometimes the quest and the journey and the destination are all the same. The journey sometimes becomes the destination, and consequently, the after looking back on ones life, the destination has evolved because of a quest filled journey. And really, there's no place like home, so what better path for our yellow brick road to take than one that leads us home? But the timing for painting the bricks yellow has been off. Today, however, was the perfect day for it -- pleasant weather, no rain in the forecast, and best of all, house work that can wait.

And by golly, I'm turning 50 tomorrow. This yellow brick road is a good reminder that this is my life, this is where it is, and this is where it goes....and it's a happy place to be.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Thursday, October 31, 2013

It's Melting!

Thinking that yesterday would be a good day to tackle a chore I've been planning for a while, I set about mixing colors to get just the right shade of yellow to paint our front door. For this project, I concocted my own mixture using Sherwin Williams Sunflower (yellow) and China Doll (soft white).

The door has been in pretty bad shape for some time.

The yellow is bright, but the right kind of happiness I want to convey when people walk up to our front door.

Now, normally, I use oil paints. But for this project, decided to use some house paint that I had gathered for a previous art project that never quite materialized. Turns out, yesterday was a little damp and humid, and even though I used a big fan to dry the door, since the paints were water based instead of oil based, after a few hours of rain this morning, this is what happened.

The paint is literally melting off the door! It's a little sad, but if this is as sad as it gets for today, it's still a pretty good day. The biggest bummer will be all of the adorable little trick or treaters tonight. It honestly wasn't my intent to trick my treaters, but there will no doubt be some tiny little knuckles with yellow paint on them by the end of the night....and a front door that looks worse for the wear, but is more than happy to open, greet, and welcome each loved one, friend, neighbor, guest, and yes, the little goblins, too.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


This. This is one of those paintings that happened organically. This was a challenge but not a struggle. This is what I've been working on for the past couple of days. This is a beautiful child.

This is 16" x 20" oil on linen.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Life Just Happened

This years retablo offering for Lawndale Art Center's 26th annual Dia de los Muertos gala is...well, this. Interpret it as you wish.

It is 8" x 10"  "strawberry margarita" nail polish and Sharpie on sheet metal. Opening bid is $50.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Random Thoughts

1.  Yesterday, I was very good at not managing my time well. Not on purpose, it just happened that way. Maybe after several weeks of being super efficient with work related activities, my brain rebelled. Whatever it was, when I mentioned it to the Amazing Reese at the end of the poorly managed day, he said, "That doesn't bother me one bit."
2.  The first thing that happened to me yesterday was that a bird pooped on my leg. I know Italians believe that bird pooping on humans is good luck, but I'm not Italian. Maybe the bird poop incident is why it was such a wonky day. (?)
3.  I wonder if the smell of cooking bacon ever tempts vegetarians to not be vegetarians anymore. (?)
4.  If God didn't want us to eat animals, why did he make them taste so good?
5.  Beef stew.
6.  I laughed out loud when Reese said, "When the knock on the door said alcohol, tobacco, and firearms, I naturally thought it was a delivery." 
7.  The last two times I went to the farmer's market, I bought myself white flour chocolate chip cookies. I'm pretty sure that is not the healthiest-for-you item to buy at a farmer's market.
8.  Speaking of which, today is farmer's market day. I find it weird that all I can think about is those cookies. I love locally grown super fresh veggies and farm raised meats and eggs. Why  am I only thinking about those cookies?
9.  As much as I love and appreciate delicious craft beer, I don't actually consider it to be a breakfast juice. It's just not something I drink with my bacon and eggs in the morning.
10.  I'm in a bit of a creative dry spell as far as painting goes though I'm happy to report that I did just paint....my toenails. Hey. At least I'm painting again.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Tide the Knot

There was a little bit of an issue tying the bow of the sash on Hilary's wedding dress. First of all, the ribbon was made of satin and kept coming loose. So, I used a small safety pin to pin the bow to itself, so it wouldn't come undone. After that, the sash/belt kept slipping down, so I borrowed another safety pin and pinned the sash and bow to the dress. But the big eye of the safety pin was still visible. Now, when our daughters were small, there were a LOT of bows and ribbons in our house. The Amazing Reese became the official bow tie-er in our house.  Because I had done such a mediocre (lousy) job with the wedding dress bow, the Amazing Reese came in to save the day. He was able to turn the big eye so that it was not visible in the back! Most excellent. But in the process, he pricked his finger, which wouldn't have been a problem, except he was bleeding all over Hilary's bow and sash! The entire room of ladies in waiting (bridesmaids and friends) freaked out. Someone yelled, "Get some club soda!" Another yelled, "Use cold water!" Then bless her heart, the maid of honor pulled out of her maid of honor emergency kit and yelled, "I have a Tide to Go stick!" Someone yelled, "It doesn't work on blood!" But hey, we were running out of options. Amidst the frenzied "discussions," someone yelled, "Try it anyway!" So the maid of honor unscrewed the Tide to Go stick cap, dabbed it on the blood droplets, and guess what? IT WORKED! 

Friday, September 06, 2013


This is a clever little boy, full of purpose and delight. It's a portrait commission that I've been working on for his grandmother. It's 16" x 20" oil on linen. He's one of three. His two sisters are here and here.

My original intent was to have all three portraits finished before our daughter's wedding last weekend, but I spent so much time shopping for shoes (just kidding, but not really --it's been a super busy summer) that I just couldn't squeeze out a big enough chunk of time to devote to it. This week, I finally had three days in a row, enough time to complete the sketch I had originally drawn for this about three months ago. The first day of painting went OK, but I ended up scraping off a large portion of what I had painted - many many hours worth of work. Yesterday I put in a FULL day - morning until bedtime - literally. The light was lousy at the end, well, it was full on night time, there was no light, even with all of the lights on in the studio, but I was making such good progress that I hated to quit. And then today.....another several hours of working with tiny brushes  and voila.

People ask me all the time how long it takes to paint something. This portrait started with several (at least three) photo shoots for reference, trips to the photo lab, several initial portrait sketches, one final loose sketch, and hours and hours of actual brush to canvas, plus all of the clean up and running back and forth to the store to buy art supplies. Suffice it to say, I work hard at this....and I LOVE it!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No Small Feat

So....life. It's big. And small. So much of life is the little things, but get too many little things going on at the same time and life gets big. That's what's happened to me lately -- lots of little things adding up to a grand schedule crunch, which has, by and large, prevented me from any significant work in the studio. That should change after this weekend. It HAS to change because I have projects and deadlines coming up. But this weekend, the Amazing Reese and I have the glorious privilege of witnessing our daughter wed a wonderful young man and participate in all of the pre-wedding hoopla that goes with such a happy occasion. The bride is ready. The mother of the bride (that's me) still hasn't decided what she is going to wear, except for the shoes. Three days ago, I finally found the perfect pair of shoes for a mother of the bride to wear to an outdoor wedding. Shopping for shoes was no small feat for these not small feet.
I feel compelled to put up a disclaimer to people who might be adversely affected by looking at a photo of my feet. Sorry. It was a slow news day.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Sometimes, when it has been a while since painting, I'll just do something, anything to warm up the creative juices. These three paintings were some of those. When they are more realistic, I call them sketches. I don't really know what to call these -- warm-ups?

Even though it's hard to tell from this photo, these are all the same size, 12" x 16" and all are oil on paper, which was a new medium to paint on for me. Instead of putting them on the easel, I put them on the glass top of my studio desk, and painted them flat. It was quite difficult to paint to the edges. I started by using palette knives and then as much as I tried to avoid it, it turned into a finger painting project, which of course, took me back to my childhood and the magic age of five. What was more fun in kindergarten than finger painting day? I had to use my fingers to keep the paintings from slipping all around the desk. I was a mess at the end -- paint everywhere -- face, ears, hair, arms, and hands.

The ones on the far left and in the middle will probably get cut in smaller pieces for note cards or something. I don't know yet about the one on the right. It reminds me of something - not sure what - seems like it has a story.....maybe your story. What story would you tell to go with the painting on the right?

Monday, August 12, 2013

Closet Cuteness Overload

The last four nights of my life, I've literally been dreaming about our daughter's forthcoming wedding. The best I can figure is that it's got to be because I still haven't absolutely decided which dress and shoes I'm going to wear as mother of the bride.....or what to do with my hair. The dreams also include friends and family who are coming to town. That's a happy part of the dream. Maybe tonight I'll actually focus on what I'm wearing in the dream and let my dream decide for me what I will wear. Ah, first world problems.

We've had an unlimited supply of guests stay with us in the last month with our listings on airbnb. It's work, work, work, but having people in the house all the time revives me, in spite of the extra house work. That reminds me, I've got some sheets to wash and a bed to make.

In the porch bedroom, Reese and I have been working together to turn this former bookcase into a usable space to hang clothes, aka, a pseudo closet.

The guy at Sherwin Williams matched the paint EXACTLY so there is a true seamlessness to the whole bookcase/closet. I love the little cubbies on the right.
Here is is all finished -- cute little space to hang a few clothes, cute basket for fresh towels. That's an old wooden spool on the end of a makeshift closet dowel rod to keep the clothes from falling off the end, also freakishly cute. And, of course, those cubbies couldn't be any cuter.

And yes, I realize that most people don't get excited about closets,  and probably most people don't think of closets as being cute, but hey, I realized that I'm not like most people a long time ago. And anyway, little pleasures in life make for big happiness.

On top of everything, I've painted a little bit, too, but will post about that tomorrow or the next day.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Surprise Wedding

Here's how it started: 
Hilary is on an epic bicycle journey from Texas to Alaska to raise money for cancer research and support for families affected by cancer through Texas 4000. Delightfully, we have loved ones who live all along the west coast, and Hilary has been able to connect with aunts, uncles, and cousins we don't often see. One of the loved ones is Reese's brother who lives in Vancouver, a stop along Hilary's bike route, which also included a rest day. Claude, Reese's brother, invited us to come see Hilary while she was in Vancouver on her rest day. This was only feasible for us because Claude used his airline miles to buy the plane tickets, and Reese's sister Sarah agreed to monitor Reese's business while he was away.

OK...so all of that sets the stage for what happened next.

This is a little complicated....let me see if I can explain it well.  Claude called us a week or so after he booked the tickets. He figured that since we were going to be in Vancouver, he was going to use the occasion of us being in town to get married to his Love, a wonderful woman named Severine, and would Reese please be his best man? The kicker was that Claude hadn't asked his Love, yet, and he wanted everything to remain a surprise. At this point, we were sworn to secrecy. 

The morning after we arrived in Vancouver, Claude, Severine (the Love), Reese, and I all drove up to Queen Elizabeth Park to have brunch at the restaurant at the top of the hill. The plan was for us all to admire the view after which Reese and I would run into the restaurant while Claude and Severine stayed behind so that Claude could propose. Claude did propose. A week or two beforehand, Severine, as a new business owner, had been in a seminar about goal setting. The speaker talked about three types of goals - achievable gaols, inspirational goals, and outrageous goals. When Severine said "yes" to Claude's marriage proposal, Claude reminded Severine of the lecture and said that he had been pretty sure that her agreeing to marry him was an achievable goal. Then Claude talked about inspirational goals and how it would be an inspirational goal to go ahead and set a date right then right there for the wedding. Then he said that, if you think about it, a really outrageous goal would be if they got married the next day at 2 O'clock. At this point, Severine's head was spinning a bit....and Claude saw that he needed to kick it up a notch to seal the deal, so he gently told her that if it would help her decision of agreeing to a surprise wedding any easier, her best friend Stephanie from Montreal was inside the restaurant at that very minute ready to be her maid of honor. That took Severine's breath away.

Severine was of course in a state of shock and awe. During brunch, as all of it was beginning to sink in, she asked me to be a bridesmaid....or is it bridesmatron? Whatever the proper term is, I happily agreed.

Here's something else Claude had planned. One of their most fun and special dates a year-ish ago was going to Diner en Blanc, a flash mob type impromptu outdoor picnic where all of the participants dine together in a public space and wear all white. Claude had asked all of the wedding guests to wear white, which brings me to another point. How to invite everyone to a wedding and still have it be a surprise for the bride? Some of these details might be a little fizzy but the gist of it was that Claude and Severine planned a "housewarming" party. It's just that after the invitations went out, Claude re-contacted everyone and told them it was going to be a surprise wedding and reception instead and please don't say anything because Severine doesn't know and would everyone please wear white to the wedding? So Reese and I were more or less prepared with white attire. Reese had some classy white linen pants, white linen shirt, and a white Havana hat. He looked fly.

A surprise wedding for the bride still takes a lot of planning from the groom. Claude scheduled a mid afternoon appointment with Severine's favorite designer in Vancouver, Malene Grotrian to be outfitted with wedding attire. It was so much fun watching Severine try on outfit after outfit! After Severine picked her ensemble, we girls made our way to the nail salon for mani/pedis, compliments of the groom. This was followed by a rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and by then it was quite late, so Reese and I went to bed.

The next morning, Claude had scheduled hair and make-up for the bride to be, and hair appointments for Stephanie and me. In the meantime, it occurs to me that the white clothes I brought to wear to the en blanc wedding might not be appropriate to wear as a bridesmaid/bridesmatron. The other two bridesmaids both had simple white knee length dresses. I didn't. The were both young and beautiful. Me? Let's just say I had a few years and the curves that go with age on the svelte, lovely ladies. Severine just so happened to have a simple white knee length dress in her closet from Diner en Blanc the year before and suggested that I try it on. Her dress was an extra small. I'm a medium on a good day and it wasn't a good day. Severine and Stephanie were pulling the dress together and zipping me up with great strength and determination. Thank goodness the dress was made of stretch fabric, but even still, I was squeezed in so tight it was like being dressed as kielbasa sausage.

Claude had even arranged for Severine's dad, who lives in Paris, to be on Skype to follow the ceremony, so that he could be a part of the grand celebration. Awww. Add a photographer, videographer, flowers, catering, cake, great friends, white clothes, and Reese and me playing and singing a duet on guitar and ukulele at the reception, and the Surprise Wedding basically went off without a hitch. (What am I forgetting?)

Oh and did I mention? I love Severine. She is my wonderful new belle soeur.

Then there's the story about how Reese and I met up with Hilary in Vancouver later that night after peeling myself out of the kielbasa dress -- another story for another day....

Monday, July 15, 2013


Below is the description I wrote for my profile on airbnb. Regular readers have heard it all before. But did you catch that --  I listed three of our bedrooms on airbnb? Less than 24 hours after listing one of the rooms we had a guest stay with us. It's been non stop since then. It's kind of hard to believe. I'm grateful...and amazed.

I am artist who writes.....or maybe a writer who paints.

One of my absolute favorite things in the world to do is showing hospitality.

There's not an option for Spanglish in languages section of this profile thingy or I would have checked that box.

I love volunteering -- but my absolute favorite volunteering of all time is taking Tilly the Wonder dog to Methodist Hospital for pet therapy with the patients.

One of the biggest blessings in my life was getting whooping cough, also known as the 100 day cough, because it allowed me undistracted time and opportunity to learn how to play the ukulele.

I've gone busking with said ukulele and earned enough money to buy a few really good craft beers plus tip.

I'm married to the Amazing Reese and we have four grown daughters who are all beautiful, kind, and smart.

Did I mention Tilly the Wonder dog? She's a stunning black standard poodle that we found at the Humane Society. She's the absolute best dog we've ever had.

I drink a large bowl of cappulatte every morning. (I'm pretty sure I invented the term cappulatte.) It's got the milk of a latte with the added foam of a cappuccino. It's quite good, hence the large bowl for drinking it.....mmmm, coffee.

Last thing -- I enjoy re-arranging furniture and honestly think that the furniture enjoys it, too. If, during your visit, you notice that your room isn't represented exactly like it was in the airbnb photographs, it's because the furniture and I decided a change was in order.

Monday, July 08, 2013


This is a sweet precious little girl full of delight and giggles. It's a portrait I've been working on for her grandmother. It's 16" x 20" oil on linen.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Little House in the Desert

This newly finished house portrait commission was more complicated to paint than it might look like it would have been because all of those lines and angles were hard to get just right....and acute, and obtuse. And, because it's a 12"x 16", only the tiniest of brushes could capture all of that detail. As per my usual, it's oil on linen.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Willie Grace

This is a portrait of a sweet little three year old girl. It's a commission I've been working on for her grandmother. It's 16" x 20" oil on linen.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Glass Mosaic Table Top

It's been quite a while since this project began.....a year and a half plus some. That's a while, right? After not much success with glass cutters, and over thinking the design, I decided on free form table top. This is the basic idea of what it will be. Looking at this photo, I see that a few colors need to be moved around, but for the most part, this is it....or at least the general idea of it.

Now to find the adhesive and/or grout I bought a while ago to keep all of these tiles in place. And then decide whether or not to use a ruler to get the lines straight or let it stay a bit organic like it is now. Honestly, I could go either way.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Homemade Furniture Polish AKA Salad Dressing

I don't remember where I saw this on the internet and therefore am not in a position to give credit where credit is due, but as you can see from the before/after photos, it works.  The basic recipe for this furniture polish is a simple salad dressing - two parts oil/ one part vinegar. I used canola oil and apple cider vinegar.


The very observant observer will notice that these are two different chair legs on account of me forgetting to take a before photo before working on the first leg. However, the effect is the same. Before - both legs looked crappy. After - both legs looked good.

Tilly the wonder dog was extremely interested in "helping" with this project by sneaking licks of the chair legs when I wasn't looking. I mean, who can blame her? It was salad dressing! The only thing that would have made this project more fun for Tilly would have been if I had used butter in place of the oil and vinegar. Has anyone ever tried butter for furniture polish? It might work.....?

As good as the chair legs look now, on the down side, multiple washings and hours later, my hands still smell like vinegar. At least Tilly likes the way I smell. 

Friday, June 07, 2013

Texas Landscape

This is what my part of Texas looks like - somewhere along highway 71 between Houston and Austin.

It doesn't take much looking to find it, either. I'll bet there's somewhere within two miles of my house that looks just like this. Take away all the buildings, houses, and roads in Houston and this is what you'd have left. Yep. That about sums it up. Seeing this makes me fall in love with Texas all over again.

Texas Landscape is 24" x 36" oil on linen.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Hilary's Big Adventure or How Hilary Spent her Summer Vacation

Watching daughter Hilary ride her bike out of sight last Saturday turned me into an emotional puddle. My heart was full and empty at the same time - filled with love and loss. That's when Hilary's first day of an epic adventure 4000+ mile bicycle journey started. Yes, you read that right -- 4000+ miles. She and a group of fellow University of Texas students are riding their bicycles from Austin, Texas to Anchorage, Alaska in the name of fighting cancer while sharing hope, knowledge, and charity along the way and giving support to those who battle cancer and support for their loved ones. The Texas 4000 is billed as the longest charity ride in the world. I don't know if that's actually true, but I tell you what -- Texans sure do know how to do it big.

The Amazing Reese, Tilly the wonder dog, and I went to Austin to cheer Hilary on at the beginning of her big adventure. Soon-to-be-son-in-law James joined Hilary for the first 50 miles.

At the start of the ride, 69 teammates paused to remember loved ones affected by cancer and  listen to the national anthem. Hundreds of bikers joined the ride for the first day.

Each rider raised at least a dollar for every mile they ride. Hilary's group is riding the Sierra Route and amazingly will be out of Texas in three more days, in and out of New Mexico in two days, in Arizona for a day total, and in Utah by Sunday!!! Y'all can follow the route here, and if anyone still wishes to contribute, Hilary's fund raising page is here.

Friends and family were invited to join the riders for a day one celebration lunch at Lagato Winery in Lampasas, Texas. We poured Texas wine in little plastic cups, toasted, and shared one last Texas BBQ meal under a big tent in a big Texas field. Well, our last meal for a while anyway....until she reaches Anchorage, Alaska in 70 days.

After our meal, it was time to say our good byes. It sure was hard. May God bless you and the people you (and your teammates) touch on your journey. May God bring you safely home at journey's end.

Here's a little something in her own words.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Vitex

8" x 8" oil on canvas
This is a vitex that was planted in my gardening phase years ago. Now it's at least twenty feet tall and blooming profusely in the back yard. I'm going to plant another one soon. Reese promised me I could. He promised because his heart was full. His heart was full because I was his passenger on the back of his "new" 1994 Honda v-twin 1100 motorcycle for a trip to the country. He couldn't have been any happier. We were driving past a mimosa tree in bloom on the road somewhere between 290 at the Mueschke exit and White Hall, Texas. White Hall is really just a run down corner store with a very pleasant, nice lady who works the register and a dirty filthy restroom. As we were riding, I saw the mimosa tree blooming in the forest. I leaned forward to yell in Reese's ear that that's what I wanted to plant in the front yard, a mimosa tree, and wasn't it pretty? "You could ask me for anything right now and I'd give it to you," he hollered back.

On the road 
Here we were on the open road, driving past donkeys, horses, llamas, goats, emus, great danes, chickens, farm houses, ranch land and forest, and all I could think to ask for spur of the moment was a tree. He extended the offer a few hours and still all I could think of was trees. So I'm getting a mimosa tree, another vitex, and a gardenia, and a hydrangea, and maybe a pine tree. I love pine trees.

If there's ever a next time, maybe I'll remember to ask for something a little more romantic, like a trip to Paris.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Musical Studio

Back in March, I moved the art studio into the big bedroom upstairs. Now, I've moved it again from the big bedroom to the small one.

The light in the small bedroom upstairs is the best light in the house, besides our bedroom, and now that there's not a bed in it, it should be ready to go. The bed that was in it is now in the cozy bedroom downstairs, which used to be the art studio, and before that the study, and before that the screened in side porch. The trick with all of this rearranging is that if all of your stuff more or less matches, it doesn't matter which room it ends up in because everything goes together....more or less.

Things should settle down for a while, and about time, because I've got work to do. Hurray for commissions!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Splatter Physics and Gravity

The waterlilies in the backyard pond refresh my soul. This is the most that have bloomed at the same time - six! Have I mentioned that yellow is my favorite color? I love the flowers in the backyard, especially when I need a break from what might be going on inside.....

.....like this. After an exhausting day of painting, this is what happened - gravity and therefore, splatter physics.

But this is the result of all that painting and cleaning and hauling furniture - the side porch and former art studio is now a cozy guest bedroom!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Three Self Inflicted Messes

Lately I've been catching up on some chores around the house. Still am. I've made a mess of several things.

1. Over the years, the sun faded the soft butter yellow curtains of our bedroom to almost white. So, I decided to dye them yellow again. The Rit Dye directions said one bottle for every two pounds of fabric. I'm sure the curtains were more than two pounds, right? So use two bottles? Well, maybe that was a bit ambitious because now the curtains are nuclear yellow and our bedroom literally glows. Not even kidding. The Amazing Reese thinks we should get a disco ball installed in the bedroom - it's that bad.

2. In the process of rearranging rooms again, and in the spirit of turning the side porch into a cozy bedroom, I'm finally painting the bead board ceiling in there. Let me put it this way, gravity does funny things to paint. And my neck hurts from looking at the ceiling so much.

3. Moving some of my plants to sweep out a mess, I accidentally broke the "put a bird on it" plant container that my daughter Anna gave me for mother's day last year and made a bigger mess of broken pot, dirt, and plant. At least the broom was handy.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Webelos

Last night, I gave an artist talk to an adorable group of young men on their way to earning an artist badge as Cub Scout Webelos. Usually, when scout type groups want to earn their artist badges, they come tour the studio here, at the house. It's easy to talk when so may visual aids are at my fingertips. We tour the studio, talk about different paintings, see the mural, the mosaics, and on and on. This was my first time to actually go to a scout club house, so naturally, I brought props along for visual impact and stimulation.

Of my own work, I brought a still life, a landscape, and a portrait for show and tell. Here I am talking about painting portraits. I figured they would be interested in a portrait of a boy about their same age.
They were eager to participate. Here we are discussing  primary and secondary colors on the color wheel.

Aren't they cute? Here they are sweetly paying attention.

Afterwards, several parents mentioned how attentive and well behaved the boys were during my talk. Apparently, that doesn't happen very often. (?) Come to think of it, they did seem mesmerized. They were really sweet.

As well as the evening went, my favorite part of the whole night was at the very end. One of the little boys came up to personally thank me and in his innocent enthusiasm, gave me a heartfelt big hug. That was pretty great.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Before and After - The Quest Continues....

Yep. The Amazing Reese and I are still on a quest to find the best fried chicken in town. Here are some things we've found on our search.

Wabash Feed Store - this is what chickens look like before they are fried. Don't they look tasty?  They are available for purchase to cook and eat in all their yummy fried goodness....or raise them as pets.

Max's Wine Dive - - fried chicken served with champagne, mustard greens, other stuff I don't remember, and spicy honey dipping sauce - really good spicy honey dipping sauce.

Saint Arnold Brewing Company's new lunch service - fried chicken served with Elissa IPA (or beer of your choice on tap), mashed sweet potatoes, succotash, and an iceberg wedge salad with bleu cheese dressing and delicious bacon crumbs. Two thumbs up!

Haven - fried chicken-to-go paired with a zinfandel eaten in the comfort of home. Let's not talk about the side dishes. Apparently I'm picky about sides. I didn't know this about myself.

Richey's Country Cookin' in Pasadena - chicken fried chicken served with sweet tea, fried okra, black eyed peas, and cornbread muffins. It was confusing ordering chicken fried chicken. I honestly thought the waitress was loopy, but sure enough, it was flat, de-boned chicken breasts that were fried. It was weird.....just like it's weird that my eyes are closed in this picture. It was a very sunny day.

We've got a few more restaurants to try. It's a hard job, but somebody's got to do it.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Grandmother Oak

The last few weeks have been all wobbly. I hired a high school neighbor to help move the art studio upstairs which involved moving a lot of other stuff downstairs. And what I thought was right, wasn't, and so I've spent several days reconfiguring furniture placement to get the best light scenario for painting in this new upstairs studio space. Hopefully, everything is in its right place and creating can begin in earnest.

This painting is called Grandmother Oak. It's a tree in the back yard of one of my favorite childhood friends. She lives in Louisiana now, but for a very few sweet years, we were neighbors in the small town of Centreville, Mississippi together. We were the kind of friends where our mothers took pictures of us naked in the bathtub together.....the kind of friends where we had matching Batman t-shirts....the kind of friends where everything we did together was magical. We told secrets under the magnolia tree in the front yard. We laughed. We made promises to each other that we couldn't possibly keep. We didn't know it at the time, we were children, but we were kindred spirits. Still are. Thank you, Margaret. Maybe we're not the same silly girls we once were, giggling under the dining room table while our mothers had coffee.....but, maybe we are.

Grandmother Oak is 24" x 30" oil on linen.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Nonsense Limerick....but aren't all limericks nonsense?

I sit here and my mind goes blank
..........................yep, still blank
for what does one say
on a day like today
"Oh, look! There goes a dog who's named Hank!"

I realize that this is ridiculous
for who will read something so frivolous
remember it's spring
that must be the thing
something something something meticulous

I'm waiting for thoughts with a clue
but so far it's gobble-de-goo
what happens a lot
when my mind has not thought
is I hope for a thought residue

A thought residue gives one hope
just like Frances will be a good pope
but really it's clear
that I just want to hear
a rhyme with the word cantaloupe

I promise that this is the end
such nonsense does sometimes offend
that's not my objective
to be ineffective
I'd rather be everyones friend

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Blind Drawing

My friend, Michelle has started an online creative group called Off the Shelf - a somewhat fortnightly (every two weeks) e-mail to prompt creative action. (You can join, too!) The first assignment was "blind drawing". Blind drawing is when one looks at the something to be drawn without looking at your hand or paper as you draw the object. Since there was leftover paint and dirty brushes from the Sweetheart Roses painting, and the still life was still set up, that's what I drew. Below was the five-ish minute result of only looking at the object and not looking at my right hand while drawing.

And below is what happens when I want to use up all the paint on my palette. I figured it couldn't hurt to "finish" the drawing (while looking this time).

Back in 2008, I challenged myself to paint for 21 days straight, hoping to develop a positive habit of painting on a regular basis. All sorts of things happened during those 21 days but no habits were formed, good or bad. I did paint a lot (duh) and toward the end of it, one of the paintings was given away to a happy reader of this blog by yours truly. I'd like to do that again - not the non habit forming 21 days of painting, but the giving away part. Whoever wants this painting can have it. Free. Leave a comment here, message, tweet @THEsarahhazel, e-mail (sarah at sarah hazel dot com), or tell me to my face to let me know that you want me to add your name to the hat (or something). In one week, all the names of the people who want it will go into a hat (or something) and I'll blindly draw the winning name.

This is another version of the sweetheart roses that was painted the other day and is 11"x 14" oil on cardboard. Remember, it's free!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Sweetheart Roses

All of our daughters have moved out of the house, for now at least. And lately I've been feeling cramped and slightly irritable in the art studio. So I'm searching the house for a new space, but instead of moving furniture around immediately, I will be setting up temporary space in several rooms in the house to get a feel for the natural light before moving furniture all over the place. This sweetheart rose painting is from trying out a north facing upstairs bedroom. So far, I like the room better than I thought I would. It's a large room with haint blue walls, very soothing. It looks out to the front yard and sidewalk, and in the afternoon I can watch the foot traffic going to and from the elementary school at the end of the block. It's nice to not feel so isolated. Painting is such a solitary pursuit that oft times I get lonesome. At least if the studio is in this room, I can feel more connected to the outside world, just from watching living and breathing human beings walk past. Another huge plus, this room has windows that open and have screens -- very helpful in airing out all of these oil paint and turpentine fumes.

The painting is 14" x 18" oil on linen.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Hydrangeas Times Two

The painting on the left is from last week, is painted with my usual paints, and is 9"x 12" oil on canvas. (I mainly use Old Holland, Williamsburg, and Holbein brands.) The painting on the right is from today and is 8" x 10" oil on linen with some sample paints that a sales rep gave me last Friday at an Art Expo at Art Supply on Main Street. The paint samples are a brand that Vikki (the store owner) at Art Supply has been encouraging me to buy, but art supplies are expensive, and it's hard to justify buying a new brand of something when I'm not sure that I'll like it or what the outcome will be on canvas. So it was wonderful to have the opportunity to try these Michael Harding's artist oil colors in the starter set and try one M. Graham & Co. azo yellow. The Michael Harding's starter set comes with ultramarine blue, scarlet lake, yellow lake, yellow ochre deep, burnt umber, and titanium white-2. I really like the way the paint glides on the canvas - it felt like the painting was painting itself. From day one of painting, from ease of use alone, I'd say the painting was a huge success.

Now, my usual palette wasn't necessarily represented in the color choices of the paints in the starter set, so as far as I can tell, that's the major discrepancy in the colors of the two paintings. It will be fun in the not too distant future to try the same colors side by side in two different paint brands. I'm really looking forward to that experiment. Who knows? Maybe, thanks to the kindness, thoughtfulness, and generosity of a sales representative, and thanks to Vikki for hosting the Art Expo, I've just discovered my new favorite paints?

Monday, March 04, 2013

Art Stuff

Here's a list of art related stuff I've done lately but haven't blogged about:

1.  Going to the Prado Exhibit at the MFAH - twice. And I cried both times. The first painting in the exhibit was Vulcan Forging the Thunderbolt of Jupiter by Peter Paul Reubens. Peter Paul Reubens!!! It was my very first time to see a Reubens in person and I burst into tears -- both times I saw the painting. It was also my first time to see Velesquez, El Greco, Goya, and Sorolla paintings. To say that I was moved is an understatement. I'd love to go one or two more times while the exhibit is in town if anyone wants to go with me. It's on view through March 31st.

2.  After the Prado exhibit I bought a book called Sorolla: The Masterworks by his great-granddaughter, Blanca Pons-Sorolla that I've been reading....and to be honest, looking at the pictures. That's probably the best part about art books as a grown-up -- looking at pictures. Another great thing about this book is that it's written in English. The other book on Sorolla that I have is in Spanish, and even though I understand some of it, the book in English is so much easier to read.

3.  Going to see the movie "Bert" at the Menil, a documentary about the life of artist Bert Long, who recently passed away. The movie talked at length about Bert's continual financial woes. My favorite line in the movie was when Bert said that if he was given $2 million for an art project that it would take him $3 million to complete it. He also talked about his file boxes of rejection letters....that's pretty common in the art world but we artists don't talk about it very often.

4.  Going to a volunteer party at Lawndale where I participated in and won a cake in the cake walk. So fun.

5.  Going to the MFAH for the Picasso Black and White opening night extravaganza. I really appreciate Picasso's early work and later work -- it's all the stuff in between that I find hard to like. What was interesting about this, though, was seeing how he applied paint and used ink and chalk all in the same paintings (on some things). And seeing works that I had only seen in books that are flat in books, but in real life are quite alive. I enjoyed that part of the exhibit. Opening night was PACKED.

6.  Going to an exhibit of Bert Long's paintings at Houston Baptist University. This was my favorite painting, oddly enough called Road Kill. It's quite large, 72" x 96" x 4" and is acrylic on canvas with a frame of acrylic, metallic gold and silver paint, tire, reflectors and mirrors on white pine. Why does it never occur to me to use tires and reflectors in my paintings? The show came with a catalog that I'm slowly reading, too.

7.  Going to Houston Center for Contemporary Craft for the Misfit Cup Liberation project, where people bring an unused cup of their own and trade it for a newly crafted one. Each participant writes a story of why their cup was discarded. It really was a liberating experience.

8.   And finally, going to the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft for "Touch in Real Time" where artist Holly Hanessian takes a small piece of clay and puts it in a handshake. It forms to the shape of both participants hands and a (hopefully) human emotional connection is formed as well. It was a plus that the artist was so engaging and easy to like.