Monday, December 31, 2007


Today is as sunny as yesterday was rainy. We ended up with nearly 2.25 inches which is wonderful but not a drought breaker. We'll take what we can get though.

The cardinals are still acting skittish even though a few were feeding this morning with me on the porch. I wonder if the light in the mornings is too dim for them to see me well as they seemed so calm. This afternoon they all flew into the trees before I even opened the door to the porch!

Anyway, thought you might like to see a photo of all the males in the apple trees. This is not all of them but most, I think. You can see how bright they are against the dark bark of the trees. Just imagine what a bright spot they make on a dreary day!

May the coming year be as bright as these cardinals on a dreary day!

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Today is a rainy and dark gray day which is very good even though rainy winter days are usually depressing. We've been in an exceptional drought for months and the larger cities have imposed severe water restrictions. We are blessed with a deep well, however, and have not had problems with running out of water.

So, I'm grateful for the rain and can even deal with the dark grayness of the day especially since the cardinals are visiting the bird feeder this morning. I've been trying to get them used to me being on our back porch so that I can eventually get some photographs of them but they are very skittish. They fly into the branches of the nearby apply trees and wait for me to leave. It's times like this that I wish I had a better camera as the males make such bright spots in the bare branches against the lowering sky! Even with the dark clouds pressing in and the day sort of ominous and forbidding, the bright plumage of the male cardinals offer a cheery counterpoint guaranteed to raise your spirits!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Looking Forward

This is the time of year to both look back to see what's been accomplished in the current year and to look forward to the coming year with new goals.

I have come to dislike the word "resolutions" mainly because very few can be resolute enough to keep them. Goals, on the other hand, are something you strive toward - sometimes they're attainable and sometimes they aren't. However, not achieving your goals doesn't seem to make you feel as bad as breaking a resolution. Is that just semantics? Is it just an excuse to not make resolutions? I don't know & it really doesn't matter in the end. It just seems that if you set a goal and don't accomplish it, you can analyse the reason and adjust your path for another try. If you make a resolution and don't accomplish it, it just feels like a failure!

May all of you have a bright and happy 2008. May you forget making resolutions and charge full-steam ahead toward your goals!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

December 19 - almost Christmas!

Well, Christmas is closer than it has been but the actual Christmas season has been underway for quite a while. We managed to decorate this year, something we really haven't done in years past and it looks nice. I should do it every year but -------

Anyway, I'm still plodding along with both the chihuahua painting and the apple still life. Fortunately, the dog wasn't necessarily to be a Christmas gift since it was commissioned long past the time I could guarantee Christmas delivery but I had honestly hoped to get it finished by now. There has been some intense pain in my right hand when gripping even something as light as a pencil or a paintbrush that has made painting impossible. I've been resting it and taking aspirin and it's slowly getting better. I didn't even write here in my blog although typing doesn't seem to bother me. Anyway, I refuse to let the ailments of the old (someone dared suggest that it might be arthritis!) invade my body and make art so difficult! I've waited way too long to be able to paint again so expect a finished chihuahua and apple still life very soon!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back Again!

Well here I am two days in a row. Really not a lot to write about today but I did want to keep up with this blog and I also wanted to apologize about the size of the pastel still life I posted yesterday. I would repost it but I think I'll wait until I have a bit more progress on it just so you won't be too terribly bored!

The commission of the little chihuahua is going well but a bit too slowly for me. Since I don't have the exact colors needed, it's a guessing game and trial and error picking the right colors in the right order. I think once I've done a couple more paintings with these pencils, I'll have a better feel for the color combinations and things will go a lot more quickly - it's all part of the learning curve. I was hoping to finish it by tomorrow but I have to go out and don't know if it will get finished until later on in the week. Watch this blog for the completed portrait!

Monday, December 10, 2007

December? Already?!!!!

I don't know where the last few months have gone but I had to reactivate my blog to post! Well, I do know where the months have gone - we finally have our house built and are moved in. It's so nice to have the room & especially nice to have a nice large space for my studio!

The studio is still somewhat unorganized but I'm not sure how to do it. I need some storage cabinets or shelves or something with which to store all my art supplies in an orderly and convenient manner. I suppose that will come; right now I'm having to concentrate on other things.

First, I'm trying to get some commissions out of the way for Christmas. Actually, I only have one more to do & I will try to post it when I finish. It's a pet portrait that I'm doing in pastel pencils instead of my usual watercolor. I've also started a still-life in pastel pencils but have had to put that on hold for the time being but hope to get back to it soon. Here's where I am with it right now.

This is from my own reference as some friends gave us quite a few apples from the mountains of Pennsylvania. The bowl is a yellow-ware bowl that was handed down to me by my mother and is a favorite to use for bread making. As you can see, I have quite a ways to go with this painting but I do like the pastel pencils a lot. No, they really aren't quicker than other media I've used (except colored pencil!) but I like the control if not the mess. I'm also having a bit of a time getting a variety of reds. They don't layer or mix like either cp or watercolor or maybe I just haven't found the secret to it yet.

Well, now that I've reactivated this blog, I hope I do better at keeping up with it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where Does Time Go?

I had high hopes and good intentions of updating this blog on a daily basis but you know what they say about good intentions! (For those of you who don't know - the old saying is that the path to hell is paved with good intentions!)

Anyway, I suddenly find myself with three pet portrait commissions which is pretty unusual at this time of the year. Most people decide to have a portrait done for Christmas & think it can be ordered on December 18th for delivery before Christmas! I don't think most people know how long something like that can take. Just putting together a good sketch from some of the photos I'm given for references takes a big chunk of time not to mention the actual painting time. But, I understand that we live in an "instant" society where most people have come to expect getting what they want in the time it takes to go through the drive-through lane.

Along those same lines is the misconception that since an artist can whip out a painting in no time at all (in the mind of the potential client, that is), that it shouldn't cost much. The average person who doesn't usually buy original art or commission a special painting is sometimes horrified at the cost of a painting. These same people think nothing of spending hundreds of dollars on designer shoes and clothes or the other little things that cost in their everyday life.

But, I'm getting off track a bit here. I'm delighted at receiving the commissions but they come at a really busy time. My granddaughter is getting married in Maine at the end of this month plus we're doing some things around home and there are tomatoes in the garden just begging to be put to some good use! Thankfully, the people who have commissioned the portraits aren't in a huge rush. If they had been, I would have turned them down as I refuse to rush something so important. At least I've made a good start on the one portrait and I don't have everything I need from the other two yet so they won't even need to be started until I return from the wedding.

I know things always work out and I'm sure this won't be the exception. After all, what kind of grammy would I be to miss my oldest granddaughter's wedding?!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Better Late Than Never!

I so wanted to update this blog on a regular basis but life doesn't seem to work on the same schedule you lay out for yourself, does it?

I know everyone does it, but I want to rant a bit on MicroSoft (could it be that maybe they deserve the rants?) I cannot understand why they offer updates that totally screw up your system and especially mess up their own products!

We only have slow, slow dial-up internet service out here in the boonies so I spent about 4 hours downloading some non-critical updates from MicroSoft in order to try their latest beta of Expression software. After I got all the updates downloaded and installed, got the software installed, I found out that Expression was merely a 30-day trial and not a free download after all! Not only that, but some software I already had on my computer now refused to work or kept giving me error messages! The worst thing was that my email no longer worked! I use Outlook Express and I kept getting error messages with it saying that it had to close! Finally, I had to totally uninstall the Expression beta and do a system restore to get my other software working again.

No wonder everyone rags on MicroSoft - this was not some insidious worm or virus that a competitor or smart-alecky kid produced and which entered my system because MS forgot to plug a security hole. This was the company's own programmers writing updates and software that conflicts with other software that they've produced! Now, how smart is that?

I believe that Apple products are waaaay overpriced, but if they work as well as their loyal supporters say they do, my next computer may well be a Mac!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meeting the Art Challenge

I'm still catching up on work leftover from my boss's vacation but I did manage to paint a couple of ATCs or Artist Trading Cards. For those who aren't familiar with ATCs, they are small (2 1/2" by 3 1/2") paintings/drawings/art that are traded with other artists. There are some artists who also make these cards to sell (called ACEOs when sold), especially on eBay and other auction sites. They are a good way for the ordinary person to collect art without having deep pockets and I have seen some stunning little pieces of art.

It's difficult to get much detail into such a small space but I enjoy trying! The first painting was for a WIP (work in progress) demonstration for Let's Make Art, a site especially for self-taught artists. I don't consider this one of my better efforts but here it is.

The second effort is one I like better. I think that may be because of the subject. This is the Ocracoke Lighthouse on Ocracoke Island, Outer Banks, North Carolina one of my most favorite places!

Both paintings are the same size but I resized for uploading and did not size them equally. Also, both have been done with the Inktense pencils from Derwent. These pencils are a water-based ink in pencil form. You use them as you would colored pencil but you can make the color brighter and more intense by dampening with a little water on a brush. I waited for months for these pencils last fall and by the time they arrived, I was busy with other things and am just now beginning to use them. So far, I really like them but need to find a support that I like to use with them. Because we're so rural, most of my art supplies have to be mail-ordered so I like experimenting with materials I can get locally. But, no matter where the supplies come from, I do insist on archival, acid-free materials.

Well, my first posting of any art and I did post one painting that I'm not particularly proud of so maybe I am a little courageous! We'll just have to see how it goes as I experiment with other mediums and subjects that aren't exactly within my comfort zone!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Work Day

Happy First Day of Summer!

My boss was on vacation last week and this week has been busy for me. The work piled up for him and therefore for me too. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to finish any art for posting. I do have something in the works but it may take a while to get it finished.

Fortunately, this job will be ending soon as it's a temporary position through an agency. I think I'll refuse any new assignments and take a nice long vacation myself when the job finally ends! Maybe I'll even get a painting done!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Well, it seems that everyone has a blog these days and I guess I've put off having one long enough. I'm not sure that I'll have anything to say that anyone will want to read but this is a fun way to share my life with anyone who does happen by here. I also plan to share any progress I make with my art and I hope you'll enjoy looking at both the failures as well as the successes!

I don't know the percentage of art that actually sees the light of day, but I thought it might be a good idea to have a record of growth (or, lack of it, as the case may be) in the various mediums as I experiment with them. I guess you could compare it to those yardstick marks on a child's bedroom wall that show how much they've grown over the years. I guess I can't use a real measuring device but maybe I can eventually come up with some sort of system for measuring progress.

I don't count myself proficient in any medium so this will be a definite journey of learning and I hope I really have the intestinal fortitude to post any of the really awful stuff I may paint!

Come to think of it - why should you be subjected to awful art - don't you see enough of it while browsing the web?

Tune in again to see if I'm courageous or just downright chicken!