Friday, February 29, 2008

In The Waiting Room

Waiting Room Sketches
Jan Gibson

These sketches are the result of the long wait at the doctor's office the other day. This is not all of them and I also read for a time and visited with other waiting patients! It was a very long wait!

I seem "drawn" to sketching shoes in situations where you have to wait. I guess that's because you don't have to really focus on someone's face and make them feel uncomfortable. This shoe belonged to a somewhat older lady who had the most beautiful tattoo on her foot! I liked her shoes also but the tattoo was a highly detailed, fully shaded drawing of a vining flower. It seemed a bit out of place on a lady in her late forties to mid-fifties and since it twined about her foot into the arch, I'd imagine that it hurt like the dickens to have it done!

The ball cap was on the head of a very elderly gentleman and it was a challenge to sketch both it and the lady's foot. The man kept looking around the waiting room and the woman kept tapping her foot so that neither stayed still long enough to get a very accurate sketch! I think I need to seek help from Jeanette Jobson at her Illustrated Life blogspot. She's the master of quick sketches in waiting rooms, airplanes and cafes!

The little fish was just a quick doodle out of my imagination and out of frustrated boredom! The vase took quite a while. It was also out of my imagination and I was trying to figure out the shading without a reference. I finally gave up on it and added some tulips. I'd come prepared for a wait and had a sketchbook, pencil and some watercolor pencils. I also had a couple of waterbrushes that I'd bought before I left my last temp assignment and have hardly used. I'd filled the water reservoirs at home so I was all prepared.

If it hadn't been for these art supplies, I think I might have gone a little bonkers just sitting there for hours on end. From now on, my motto is the same as that of the Boy Scouts - Be Prepared! lol

Thursday, February 28, 2008

When is Enough, Enough?

Yesterday I took our elderly neighbor to the doctor in Pinehurst, a town about 30 miles away. This was the second time I've done this and both times were a less than positive experience.

Both times the wait just to get in to see the doctor (with an appointment) was over 3 hours! And both times the entire trip (including driving the 30 miles one way) was over 5 hours!

At first the waiting room only had a few people in it but as the hours went by, it became crowded with people. Most of the patients were elderly, some even appeared to be on the brink of death, and I cannot believe a doctor who has taken an oath to try to help people and not to harm them could be so callous! I think the doctors in this medical office were definitely doing harm. I'm sure blood pressures were sky-rocketing as people ranted about the wait. When the medical personnel were asked why the wait was so long, they were told that the doctors were very thorough and that took time.

To me, that is certainly not a valid answer. Doctors are supposed to be thorough, aren't they? And knowing how "thorough" the doctors are, shouldn't the scheduling reflect that? As I said, I've only been to this particular office twice,but I gather from the other patients complaints that this is a regular occurrence.

Which brings me to another question - why are these patients putting up with these long waits at the doctor's office? And, if I'm willing to drive my neighbor to her appointments, am I as foolish as the patients to do it?

I like to think that, as a Christian, I will cheerfully help someone in need. Our neighbor is a widow who has no children and whose other family members live quite a distance away. The woman doesn't drive and has arthritis so bad in her knee that she can barely walk even with a walker or a cane. One can't help but feel sorry for her.

But, if tending to her health plays a part in destroying mine, is it time to withdraw my help? I have decided that it is. If this is an ongoing problem at this doctor's office, I don't want to be a part of it. To me, this doctor is a thief and I'll not let him steal from me.

That may sound harsh, but I was brought up to be on time. My mother always told me that if I couldn't be on time, be a few minutes early instead of being late.

I was also taught that when you're late, you've stolen time from someone. We've all heard that time is money, and, in a way that's true. But time is also life. Being late steals a chunk of someone's life that they can never get back.

There was also a thing on being chronically late on one of the talk shows (Oprah maybe?) I actually don't watch tv much but this caught my attention. Anyway, a psychologist was saying that being habitually late was actually an act of aggression and dominance. Evidently the person who is always late feels that their life is out of their control but feels that they can assert a certain amount of control over their lives by being late. I'm not a big fan of psychology but this sounds logical in a convoluted sort of way!

However, I guess I'm dealing more with my conscience and trying to work out whether I'm being selfish by refusing to drive our neighbor to her appointments. This blog is rather a public place to argue with your conscience but isn't this what blogs are for?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Painting Again

I've not updated my blog in a few days but have a very good excuse - I've actually been painting! Nothing special or for any reason except to try out some tips from artists whose work appeals to me.

These two paintings are both watercolor on watercolor paper. The first is of some crape myrtle in an old McKoy (is it spelled McKoy or McCoy?) vase. Here I was practicing removing color from areas with a damp brush. I was also practicing glazing.

copyright Jan Gibson

This second painting is one that I've wanted to do for a while. We have some Yucca in our yard & I just love the color variations in what appears to be a creamy yellow flower from a distance. When you look at a single blossom up close, and particularly in sunlight, there are actually all kinds of colors in just one blossom!

The actual painting is more subtle than the scan shown here. I've found that when I scan a painting with a dark background, the scanner intensifies other colors. So far, I haven't figured out how to prevent that nor how to fix it without washing out the picture entirely! The painting is ATC/ACEO sized at 2.5 x 3.5 inches and has an added white border of a quarter of an inch all around so that I can frame it if I decide to.

copyright Jan Gibson

And that's what I've been doing instead of tending to my blog!

Critiques are always welcome as these exercises are for learning. Feel free to point out any area that needs improvement!


Monday, February 18, 2008


To my friend, Paulette, from Becoming a Renaissance Woman blog. She was interviewed by fellow artist, Sue Smith of Ancient Artist: Developing An Art Career After 50 blog and it was very in-depth and very encouraging interview for new artists or those who's skills have been allowed to lapse! You can read the entire interview at Sue's site here.

Paulette must be a woman of incredible determination and unusual stamina as in just one year she has learned to draw in graphite, learned to work in colored pencil and has written a book about her learning process! This is in addition to raising four children, caring for those children and a husband and house! She also mentions that she wanted to learn to play the piano as well as learn to faint!

You'll have to check out Paulette's blog to see how all of this came about. I think you'll find, as I have, that Paulette is a remarkable woman!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Colorful Mushrooms

I took this photo a month or so ago but just got around to painting it over the past week. I finally finished it yesterday and love the colors in it. These colors were in the photograph after tweaking the photo in my photo editing program but the original mushrooms were just your everyday blah beige.

The painting is colored pencil on stationery-type vellum. This vellum is paper (not calf-skin) but is beautifully translucent, acid-free and relatively heavy. Because of the translucency, I've backed the piece with a sheet of yellow artist's paper.

copyright Jan Gibson

Because of the paper's translucent quality and because it was scanned instead of being photographed, every little streak and speck shows up. In a way, I like that look but, it does look smoother and less streaky in real life.

The vellum is a little difficult to work on but I like the results so will probably use it again.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What Determines Likes or Dislikes?

What determines whether an artist likes a particular medium or not? I have had many positive comments on the chihuahua painting but I don't particularly like it nor do I like the medium of (chalk-type or soft) pastel very much. I would like to be a well-rounded artist, proficient in many mediums including pastel because I love the look of it. But, I just can't seem to get the hang of it.

Is this why I don't like it very much? Because it doesn't come easily for me? I also hate the way my hands feel while using it and I avoid using my fingers to blend. That may or may not be a good thing, depending on who you ask, but I do know it's easier to blend using the fingers than something else. Does the way it feels on my hands contribute to my dislike of pastels? I also hate the mess it makes but I've certainly worked with messier mediums and just accept the mess as part of the process.

All of the serious artists I've met have to be drawing, painting or sculpting, etc. on a regular basis and, in a pinch or fit of exploration, will work outside their medium of choice. Also, many of the serious artists I've met work happily in several mediums even though they may be best known for only one.

So, what makes us choose a certain medium over all of the others? Perhaps it's the strike system. Pastels have three strikes against them as far as I'm concerned (1. they seem hard to master, 2. they feel awful on the hands, 3. they're very messy) but maybe one day this will change and I'll suddenly love pastels - wonder if this is really possible?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

This 'n That

I know I've promised to post the pastel pencil of the chihuahua that I did but I've been reluctant to do it. It's the first pet I've done in that medium and I really don't like it much. The client was very happy with it for which I'm very grateful, but I think that just reinforces my belief that most people see what they want to when it comes to their pets!

Anyway, I'll post it because I said I would.

copyright Jan Gibson

I'm still working on the apple still-life and just can't seem to get it finished. I'm not really in a slump but am in what I call a "restless heebie jeebie" state. Usually, I really want to paint and try to paint but flit from one thing to another without being able to finish anything! This sort of thing usually precedes a change in my life that's not necessarily art related. It's sort of the "storm before the calm" although I guess it might be more accurate to say it's build-up to a storm of change.

Nope, that's not right either because the changes aren't usually turbulent or in any way bad. Does anyone out there know what I mean? Do you experience such times in your life?

Anyway, I'm piddling along with the still-life and have made some progress. If I ever finish it, I'll post it, I promise, then I'll probably never do another pastel painting again! lol

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Painting Again

Since I have the internet tether set up and working and the Monster more or less finished, I've been trying to focus on painting again.

So far, I've finished the chihuahua pet portrait commission and am back working on the apple still-life. Both are in pastel pencils, a medium that I've not really used much at all and am not sure I like much. The chihuahua turned out ok - I haven't heard back from the person who commissioned it yet, but I think it looks like him. I'm just not especially thrilled with it but it was a learning experience.

On the other hand, I'm liking the way the apple still-life is coming along. I think the difference may be that the still-life has meaning for me and, while I really enjoy doing animal portraits, there's a different sort of attachment for the subject. Also, I think it's because the owners see a pet one way while the artist usually has only the reference photo(s) to go by. I remember one commission where the owner kept wanting me to go darker with the fur on her dog. The photo reference showed the animal as a very light silver gray but the dog was actually charcoal gray! Another owner had the opposite problem.

Animal portraits can be kind of stressful because of the owner's vision versus the reference photo(s). I wonder why they send photos that don't show the true colors or character of the animal even when asked for ref photos that are accurate. I think it's because they see their dog as it is even when viewing a photo that isn't totally correct.

Anyway, the stressful portrait is finished & I'll post a photo of it in the next few days. I'm hoping to finish the apples today or tomorrow and I'll post a photo of it too.

So --- hang around and watch this space!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


I had a breakthrough with the installation of the cell phone/computer tether last night right before bed and I'm now tethered to the internet! Whooooo Hoooooo!

I'll probably post more on this wonder of technology at a later date, but for now, I think I'm a little bit disappointed. The speed isn't anything near what I was led to expect it would be but it's still much, much better than the old dial up! I'm thinking that there may be something I can do to increase the speed but for now I'm enjoying surfing that's faster than anytime ever before on this computer!

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Well, I've spent all day (since about 5 am this morning) trying to hook up the cell phone tether internet service. The problem is that, while I'm not totally ignorant of things electronic, I'm not exactly a whiz either. So, since 1) we don't have stacks of cash lying around 2) I'm already in trouble for switching our cell phone service before the contract ended (I was told the contract had expired) and 3) the new phones and cell plan are more costly than our old plan, I decided to buy the cable and the cell phone drivers on e-Bay and do a DUN (dial up network) connection. The difference in price of the two was pretty hefty - $70+ for the data kit (data cable & installation cd) as opposed to slightly under $11 for the data cable and drivers. You can see why I wanted to try to do it myself especially since there were some pretty clear cut instructions to be found on the internet!

Now, I'm good at following instructions and the steps outlined seemed really simple and they were. The only drawback is that whoever writes these things assumes you know as much as they do & I didn't!

So, by about 1:30 this afternoon, I finally got the drivers properly installed and figured the set-up would be a breeze since I've set up a DUN a few times. It was a breeze, simple as pie, but the danged thing still doesn't work!

So, I'm back to square one, taking a break to clear my mind & surfing on my old, slow dial up account!

Here's the question: Is it more cost-effective to take the easy way even if it costs way more or is it really saving money to struggle with the cheaper method??!!!!! I really want to be surfing on the tether and wish I'd bought the data kit. On the other hand, I'm rather enjoying pitting my brain against modern technology and I do feel that I'm learning something here.

Of course, it might be that I'm learning that it's best to just pay the money and get 'er done!

Friday, February 1, 2008

Knowledge From the Tag

If you read my previous blog, you'll know that I was tagged by Jeanette from Illustrated Life to reveal 5 things about myself that most people didn't know. I'm not usually into this type of thing but decided to participate after reading Jeanette's five revelations. I decided that the tag draws people closer because they usually have many things in common.

For instance, Jeanette revealed that she loved cheese and could just about live on it for every meal. I love cheese too - just about any kind.

Jeanette also revealed that she had once owned a MG and I did too only mine was a MGA & it was my favorite car. It was green (my favorite color), it was a convertible & it felt as if you were riding in a go-cart but I still loved it.

I tagged someone that I'd never had contact with before but whose work I admire. I had to contact her to let her know of the tag and found that she and I have tall husbands in common. To be honest, I felt a little embarrassed to contact her for the first time with the news that I had tagged her but she sent me a very nice email back with the information about her husband also being tall. Peggi of Habets Studio seems to be a really nice person and I'm glad I tagged her. I checked her blog this morning and found that we also have "as organic as possible" gardening in common! I can't wait to go "meet" her tagees!