Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Dreaded Tag

Jeanette, from the Illustrated Life blog, has tagged me . I'm not sure of the purpose of a tag unless it's just to get to know other bloggers better so I'm going to participate. I truly like most people and interaction like this can be fun. However, in my case, I'm not sure that anyone would want to know anything about me - I'm pretty obscure & my blog is certainly not a must read on a daily basis.

But, in the spirit of -----------------------------

1. I'm slightly under 5' 4" tall

2. I'm married to a man who's 6' 2" tall (I have a Mutt & Jeff complex!)

3. I have one daughter and a step-son - 3 granddaughters and 1 grandson between them

4. I love animals and have 2 dogs and a horse

5. I'm a vegetarian

Now, on to the next ones tagged!

First of all, I'm going to tag Rose Sciberras, a woman who got into art only recently and has excelled in every medium she's tried so far!

Next, I'd like to introduce you to Christine at Creative Life Studio. Christy does some amazing portraits in graphite.

The following person probably doesn't know I exist but I'm very enthralled with her watercolor portraits. I hope she'll consent to be tagged, but, if not, I've at least let her know that I like her work! Meet Peggi Habets of Habets Studio!

So, Rose, Christy and Peggi, if you decided to participate, just tell us 5 things about yourself on your blogs. It should be 5 things that most people don't know. Then, "tag" about 5 other bloggers and ask them to do the same.

Sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Let's Make Art Members

I have to brag on the members at Let's Make Art as I got a plethora of great ideas for storing my art papers and protecting the top of the Monster from a couple of them. My thanks go out to Joanie and to Christine of the Creative Life Studio blogspot as they both had some very workable ideas. Christine even provided some links to places where I could obtain some items. Thanks so much to both of you!


Today I think I'm going to finish the top of the Monster and hopefully get to do a little painting later today or tomorrow if at all possible. I'm really looking for the USB data cable for the phone/PC internet tether to arrive either tomorrow or by at least Saturday and if it does arrive, I'm sure I'll end up messing with it. I haven't done any painting in a while so I definitely hope to work in some doodles at least even if the cable arrives. With the high speed of that internet connection, I figure I can get all of the usual online stuff done quickly so I can still play and have time to paint!

I love having the best of both worlds! lol

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Internet Tether

I have been very frustrated of late with the dial-up internet connection we have. It's about the only negative thing about living out here in the boonies because the internet just keeps getting more graphic intense and slower and slower for those of us stuck with dial-up.

However, I found out about "tethering" a cell phone to my computer which, in effect, turns the cell phone into a high-speed modem. A friend came over last Sunday afternoon and showed me how it worked and said that it even worked better here than it did at her house! After dial-up and connecting at 28.8kbps at best, using her cell phone connection was pure heaven! She couldn't remember how to find out the connection speed, but I can tell that it's sooo much faster than dial-up!

I put in an order for the special USB cable needed to connect the phone to my computer and received confirmation that it has been shipped! I don't know how long it will take to get here but I can't wait! When I receive the cable, I'll go sign up for unlimited access to the internet through my cell phone provider. This extra access will cost about the same as DSL in this area (where it's available). If I had a laptop computer, I could have high-speed just about wherever I go!

I'll keep you posted on how well this works for me. I'm sure most of you have access to DSL or cable but this could be an option for those who don't.

The internet is wonderful even at slow speeds. I did a search to find out how to store my art paper (see yesterdays blog entry about the Monster Table) and found a couple of good solutions.

One site suggested that the paper be stored with glassine interleaved between the sheets. This is a relatively inexpensive solution and one I may try.

Also, ASW Express has some acid-free storage boxes in their on-line catalog. The boxes come in various sizes and some were even cloth bound. This would probably be a great option for storage in the studio as the description said that they could be used in place of flat files. I'm not sure the boxes that are big enough to hold full sheets of watercolor paper would fit into the storage area of the Monster and I'm not sure I would want them to take up room in the studio. The whole point to the storage space in the Monster was to keep paper handy and out of the way. I'm sure there are probably even more options that I haven't discovered yet but, right now, I'm leaning toward using the glassine sheets.

Monday, January 28, 2008

SPECIAL EDITION - It's Here! It's Here!

The Pay It Forward painting from Paulette finally arrived today & it's soooooooo cute!

Copyright Paulette/Becoming a Renaissance Woman

The little ducklings look so fluffy and cute and she matted it in black, one of my favorite mat colors! I certainly didn't expect it to be matted! Have you ever seen anything more precious?

Thank you so much, Paulette! I'm just delighted with this painting! You know how much I'll treasure it!

The Monster Table!

Sorry not to have posted in a while but I've been working on getting more coats of paint on my monster art table. My husband was good enough to get the primer coat plus one coat of the paint onto it but it needed more. Anyway, I thought I'd share some pictures of the Monster. I really think it will be great to use as it has all that storage beneath the split table top. However, I want to store paper there and wondered if the paint is enough of a barrier to keep acid from harming the art paper. If not, what can I do to protect the paper during long-term storage? I'm a bit of an art supply collector and sometimes it's quite a while before I use some things. If anyone has any ideas, please let me know!

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to the Monster!

As you can see, there is a storage area under the table top that's about five and a half inches deep at nearly the entire width and length of the table. The drafting hinge mechanisms have not been attached yet but will support each half of the split top. The table has been designed so that I can work from either side and have access to the storage area no matter which side of the table I'm on.

I'll probably work from the left side/left drawing area most often so my husband installed a pull-out wire basket for more supplies on the right side under the table. I have some plastic shoe boxes and can fit three of them perfectly into the basket. This type of storage box will also fit under the table top.

I still need to find some kind of protection for the top - I'd thought of a self-healing mat material to cover each half of the top but that doesn't feel like the right solution to me. I also looked at some smooth, 1/8 inch wall board but decided that would not stand up. My husband suggested linoleum/vinyl flooring but we couldn't find anything that wasn't textured. The tops are painted and I may just put on several coats of polyurethane or something and make sure to use large sheets of newsprint under my art work. Again, if anyone has any other suggestions, please let me know!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Home Again!

I returned from the "Sisters Reunion" yesterday and must say that I enjoyed myself thoroughly! Also, it turned out that our brother was also able to join us so I guess we should call it the "Sisters & Brother & Father Reunion"!

There are six of us kids altogether - 5 girls and 1 boy. My brother was the last child and, with all older sisters, I imagine he was pretty spoiled! Since I was next oldest, I can remember torturing him but not spoiling him! Unless of course, even giving him attention of any kind was spoiling him! In my own defense, he was a little kid when I was of dating age and he was the typical little brother pest who created the type of scenes that everyone laughs at in television programs or the movies. He seems to have grown up a lot and become less pesky these days - however, that could simply be the result of me being out of the dating market!

My sisters all looked gorgeous as usual. We all are so different in looks and personalities for the most part. I would post a photo of all of us that my brother-in-law took but I'm not sure the family would appreciate that so much. Yeah, yeah, I know very few people read this blog, but still, I guess I ought to preserve their privacy from the few who do read it! Suffice it to say that everyone looks much younger than their ages and they're all a very attractive bunch! Even my father who is nearing 90 is still an attractive man - he goes to senior dances and all the ladies want to dance with him!

While the visit with family was much too short, I'm glad to be back home. It didn't seem as if there was enough time to visit with each family member individually but I'm sure the old saying about visitors and fish both smelling after three days also applies to visiting relatives! Anyway, I missed my husband and our animals a lot so would have been hard-pressed to have stayed away any longer!

I'm glad I went as I also got to see many of my nieces and nephews all grown up with children of their own. I'm pretty objective about things and, being an artist to boot, I may notice beauty more than the average person. I have to say that we have a most attractive family who are all as sweet as they are nice looking, and, no, I'm not at all prejudiced!

Until next time!

Friday, January 18, 2008

So Excited - Just Can't Hide It!

I can't remember who did that song but those lyrics fit this situation exactly!

I've been busy preparing for a reunion weekend with my sisters in Kansas and just haven't been online much. I did happen to pop on today & found that Paulette of Becoming a Renaissance Woman blog fame, has mailed the Pay It Forward painting she did for me! I haven't seen my sisters since my mother's funeral in the late 90's but, to be honest, I'm only slightly less excited to see Paulette's painting!

Don't get me wrong - I love my sisters dearly & miss them a lot. We're separated by over 2,000 miles and it's really hard for all of us to get together in one place at one time so getting to see them is such a treat! I'll also be seeing my father who is nearly 90 years old so please understand that this trip is a really BIG deal!

But, on the other hand, I've watched Paulette grow in her art and she has blossomed into a really fine artist. She's done what was necessary to become the woman artist she is today and it's a real rush to receive a product from that labor.

Pay It Forward is a really great idea - it's so nice to share our art or other talents with one another and even complete strangers. Perhaps it's even something you might want to do. For more particulars, or if you'd like a free painting yourself, please see the following blog entry HERE or Paulette's blog information HERE.

Anyway, watch this space as I'll be posting the painting that Paulette sends me!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is Bigger REALLY Better?

My husband is one in a million and he's my biggest supporter when it comes to my art. I've been trying to get my studio put together in our new house and he's been tripping all over himself trying to help. The only thing is that his ideas of what I need don't in the least match mine!

So, when I said that I'd like to have a work station sort of like a kitchen island, he couldn't wait to build it for me. I told him what I'd like to have and he built it for me but way bigger than I needed or wanted! I had been very specific about the size but I ended up with something that takes up most of the space in my studio!

Today was moving in day of the island I'd requested. He'd built it in the barn only to discover (what I knew all along) that we couldn't get it into the studio without doing some dis-assembly! He's a pretty good carpenter so had not only used screws but also glue for putting it together so it was a major ordeal to remove the legs and get the thing down the hall and make the sharp turn into the studio. Fortunately, he didn't attach the top but that's in the works next!

It's really a gorgeous work center with plenty of room! lol He split the top so that I would have room to put my supplies on the right (I'm right-handed) plus, added a sort of storage area under the top . Both of the split sections of the top can be lifted to access this storage area. The left side of the top is like a drafting/drawing table that can be inclined.

Under the table are some slide out baskets for holding supplies. Since the whole unit slides out making access to the individual baskets a little tricky, I may just use one basket & maybe put a stand-alone drawer unit under it.

It's not quite ready to use yet as final finishing has been left up to me. My husband dislikes painting or staining where that's what I like best. I'm seriously thinking of painting the unit & maybe adding some vines or flowers up the legs or something! The top will have that self-healing mat or some other protection on it. It will be a while before it's completely finished as the painting will take a while and the drafting table mechanism has to be ordered and received. We had hoped to be able to get it locally but guess there isn't much call for those things around here! I imagine the mat will also have to be ordered.

So, I'm trying to visualize a studio arranged around this monstrous work center - so much stuff and a lot less room than I'd counted on to put it!

Friday, January 11, 2008

High Speed - Someday?

About the only thing I really hate about living in the country is the lack of high speed internet access. Satellite and something called a PCI card (or something like that) is available but I'm told they offer less than desirable results at some pretty high prices.

Face it, the internet of today is designed for those who can receive huge files in nano-seconds, not those of us on dial-up where it takes hours to download something that would take a broadband user less than a minute to download.

So, I was excited when I saw that WiMax was finally at a marketable stage and would be available this year in some places and situations. Unfortunately, there will be limited availability for the service and I also read that the necessary hardware is also limited. The incentive for our local telephone company to expand their dsl service into rural areas was probably crushed with the announcement about WiMax also as I've read that WiMax will be easier and cheaper for companies to implement than dsl. Even if WiMax is a year or so away, I can't imagine the telephone company running the necessary lines and installing the necessary equipment for dsl if it can't compete economically.

Sigh - so close and yet so far!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


The oddest thing has happened today. I started a rooster painting to be donated to our local animal rescue's auction only to find that two other people who belong to Let's Make Art have also painted roosters that they posted today - one at Let's Make Art and the other on her blog (Paulette from Becoming a Renaissance Woman)! Is this a coincidence or are we having a run on roosters! lol

I have been experimenting with art supplies that I bought before my temp job ended and my rooster painting was done with something called Twinkling H2O's which were recommended by another member of Let's Make Art. These are supposed to be watercolors but I have a sneaking suspicion that they're actually acrylic as the only resemblance to artist's watercolor is the fact that you can wet them to get a liquid paint. They are very opaque and they won't lift from the paper once they're dry. I have to admit that they are fun as they have mica chips in them that add a sparkle to your painting (it doesn't show up in my scan). I believe they were originally developed for rubber stampers. Anyway, this feels kind of heavy to me but I do like the way it came out except for those splotches in the background. I had expected to be able to soften them so they were barely visible but they dried quickly and there was no way to rework them.

Paulette from the Becoming a Renaissance Woman blog is offering a Pay it Forward painting and I was fortunate enough to be a recipient of her generous offer! Basically, Pay it Forward is a way to do something for someone in hopes that they will also do a good turn for someone else. So, in light of that mandate, I will offer a painting to the first person who says they would like to have one plus I will offer something additional to the painting that I normally donate to our local animal rescue organization's annual auction which is held in February. They do not have to be told to do good as they do a tremendous amount in a county where it's hard to convince pet owners to spay and neuter - they Pay it Forward on a daily basis. In addition, I'll help someone in some anonymous way - maybe fix up a Pay it Forward card explaining what I'm doing and give it to someone along with a $20 bill or something. While I'm a part of a group of artists who are participating in this, I would like to keep it going and expand it beyond the artist's community here.

So, if you would like to have a free painting, just let me know in the comments section of this post. All you have to do is to agree to Pay it Forward yourself!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Trusting Your Art Instincts

As the result of a post at a Let's Make Art forum thread, I attempted a one hour painting of an avocado. Since I'd never completed a pastel painting with the CarbOthello pastel pencils that I bought recently, I decided to make it a true challenge using both a fairly new medium and having a rather stringent (for me) time limit. The painting is on the smoother side of a yellowish MiTientes pastel paper.

I've had a problem with obtaining the right colors with the pastel pencils and dithering about trying to decide what color is closest or best has been a real frustration for me as well as being a real time waster. There's not really any color mixing with the pastel pencils and they don't always have the colors you need in even the largest sets! This exercise taught me to trust my instincts as, with the time limit, I had to grab a color I thought would work and just go for it. While the colors in the scan above aren't quite those of the original, they're fairly close.

One of the LMA members is married to a chef and she said he knew it was an avocado at least!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Colored Pencil - What I've Learned

I just finished this colored pencil piece today (although I'm one of those who will pick until it's framed). I know it's no masterpiece, it's simply a practice piece to learn about colored pencil and this particular piece has taught me a lot.

This is a mix of different pencils (mainly Lyra Polycolor, some Dick Blick, some Prismas, and a Polychromos or two) on a 5 x7 Ampersand's Pastelbord panel. I used a watercolor pencil base on the cherry, stem and leaf but not on the background.

So, on to what I've learned from this:

I learned that what I've always called "burnishing" is not really burnishing in the true sense of the word. According to the dictionary, burnishing simply means polishing to a shine. I always thought that you had to use a lot of pressure when you burnished but with colored pencil, that's not always the case.

And that's the problem I was having with colored pencil. When a tutorial called for burnishing in the early stages, I was using all the pressure I could muster when all the instructor meant was to blend the layers. No wonder I ran out of tooth before I could add sufficient layers! However, when a piece is nearly finished, I think a lot of pressure does need to be used because there are so many layers that it takes a lot of pressure to move the color around.

It would be nice if colored pencil tutorial writers were more specific about the different pressures used when burnishing and what was required when! Or, maybe it would help if I weren't so dense! lol

Here is what I've done in the last couple of days. I'll treasure it, not for what it looks like or how beautiful it is (lol), but for what it's taught me.

There are other things I learned while working on this piece that have little, if anything, to do with art.

I'm a Christian, not any particular denomination, but a true believer in Jesus and in the Bible and one of my goals this year is to trust God more, to learn and to listen to and to obey that still, small voice. I'm sure everyone knows how many voices you can hear in your head whether you're Christian or not. There are voices that compliment you, voices that tell you what an idiot you are and voices that tell you you're a rotten artist and on and on. They're mostly negative voices and if you haven't heard them, then I wonder if you're really human or an alien from another planet!

Anyway, God's voice is quieter than all the rest and it's difficult to hear Him over the shouting of the other voices. You have to train yourself to hear. Part of that training for me, is to instantly obey any voice that isn't against what He's said in His Word. I plan to assume it is God until I've been right often enough to just know that it is.

I said all that as an explanation for some decisions I made about this piece. I told you that I didn't use watercolor pencils for the background. I didn't use them because I had planned to leave the background white. However, once I had the watercolor base down, I knew it needed one. I hate backgrounds! I never know what to do with them. This time I decided to ask God what was needed & almost instantly a voice in my head said "yellow". Well, anyone who knows me knows that most yellows and oranges are like fingernails on a blackboard and that I just don't like those colors. But, as I'd said I'd obey instantly, I started laying a creamy yellow into the background. It still looked a little blah and I was wondering if I'd heard the wrong voice this time. I asked and got "deeper" so I started adding a little darker yellows into the background along with some of the red from the cherry. I think I went just a tad too dark but, overall, I'm pretty pleased with the color combination. I would not have even considered yellow without that voice.

Also, I've been having some major pain in my right hand to the point that I couldn't use a pencil or pen or paintbrush with even the least amount of pressure. Not at all compatible with colored pencil painting yet I completed this painting without pain!

I found a teaching online called Get Over It! by a minister named Keith Moore who has a bunch of free downloads. Honestly, by the time I finished listening to this teaching, there was no pain in my hand. I plan to go back and get a lot more of those! Even with the slow download time of dial-up it's more than worth it to me. Generally, I don't promote anyone as I feel that everyone has to make decisions for themselves. However, I also hate it when someone is sick or hurting so if this link can help others get healed or saved or out of financial problems, then I'm glad to post a link:

Well, I hope you can see why this piece is special to me. I guess it might be a little like the Velveteen Rabbit - not really so pretty to look at but it has something that goes much deeper than looks.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Bottom Fell Out

Well, the bottom of the temperature fell out last night! Yesterday was a decent day but today is literally freezing! We even had a little snow earlier today! Almost unheard of in this part of the country!

I'm so frustrated as today was a perfect day to stay in and work on some art projects. I have many unfinished projects that I want to finish. I also have some new media to learn about but I still cannot grip a pencil or paint brush. I want to scream!

Some time ago, I watched a gentleman on television use his fingers to paint with acrylic and think I'm going to have to try that again if I want to paint anything! I was pleased with the painting I produced at the time and wonder if I can do anything like it again.

This is what I did many years ago using only my fingers.

This may be the only solution for expressing myself with some kind of art medium! Well, I haven't tried a palette knife & wonder if I could manipulate one of those. Hmmmm - hate to leave such good company but I'm off to find some acrylic paints and a palette knife!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

I Remember

I'm old enough to remember when people took pride in their work and gave full measure for the price they charged. Sadly, it seems those days are gone. Either that or we've just be exceedingly unlucky with some of our purchases!

Take today, for instance. We had the traditional meal that's eaten all over the South on New Year's Day - pork, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread. I spent all morning cooking and, knowing that it would take some time to prepare everything, I bought pre-washed and cut up collard greens in a bag instead of the huge fresh leaves that are usually dirty and full of sand. It takes some major effort to clean collards well enough to eat & I wanted to able to enjoy the day along with my husband instead of spending time preparing and cooking the meal. To be honest, I was skeptical about pre-washed collards as I'd purchased frozen PicSweet turnip greens twice and found them so full of sand as to be inedible. I contacted PicSweet to let them know that they had falsely labled their product as "cook and eat" and swore I'd never buy that brand (PicSweet) of any type of frozen food again. (And I haven't even though it's the only brand our local store carries in some of the produce we like to buy.) Anyway, I was so disappointed in these collards. On impulse based on past experience, I decided to wash them just to make sure they were clean. After three changes of water that left silt in the bottom of my sink, I was finally able to put them into a pan to cook.

Collards are a green leafy vegetable that seems to attract bugs like bears to honey so you kind of expect some bug holes - it comes with the territory unless you prefer perfect leaves that you know have been doused in insecticide. But these pre-packaged greens were holes held together by bits of collard leaf. I wish I could remember the name of the company - it was some family farm in South Carolina - I would ask them if they ate their own produce! They probably eat the best stuff themselves and package the rest!

I believe in giving credit where credit is due so I dug the package out of the trash in order to give you the brand name. It's Rawl brand - Walter P. Rawl and Sons. I will remember this brand & not buy it again.

I know it's not always possible for everyone, but I'm so glad we're able to grow our own produce! This past year was the exception because we were building our house (that's another quality issue!) and the garden area was full of trucks, materials and workmen. I think for the future, if we don't produce it here, we just don't need to eat it!

And, I apologize to any workman who gives his/her best and gives a fair return on the monies charged for their goods or services. Not only do I apologize, I salute you! You're a rare breed these days and deserve more recognition for your efforts!

Now, for the message you expected to see today - HAPPY NEW YEAR!