Friday, September 19, 2008

My Unflappable One

Bonnie B. & the Clothesline
Jan Gibson

Wow! Two posts in one day from me! How fortunate can you get?

I know it's odd for me to post twice in one day but I'd told you about hanging out laundry earlier and wanted to expound a bit on that.

I've been bugging my husband for a clothesline since the old one had to be removed because of our house being built. Most of the time I do prefer the clothes dryer that can be used from the comfort of the house but there are times when I want something hung outdoors in the fresh air.

So, my husband finally put up a clothesline for me not too long ago. He chose the spot & I was just too grateful to finally get it that I didn't protest where he wanted to put it. What neither of us considered was its proximity to the horse pasture.

My Bonnie is pretty solid and really doesn't spook or get upset over much of anything. However, imagine my consternation to look out and see the sheets flapping in the wind this morning! I looked a little further and there was Bon calmly eating grass not 30 feet from the clothesline! She's truly one in a million in that regard - meet my Unflappable Bonnie B!

Bonnie B. & the Clothesline2
Jan Gibson

Ahhhh, Fall!

Well, it's almost fall again, at least in this part of the world. The official date is this coming Monday but, in reality, it can start just about any time around this date. Our daytime temperatures went from the low 90's just a few days ago to the mid 50's overnight last night. I don't know about you, but that's sleeping-with-the-windows-open weather for us! The constantly running air conditioner has been silent more and more often lately and the house is still comfortable! Oh, joy!

But, there's always that fly in the ointment, isn't there? Or maybe it's just that humans are never satisfied. But, I digress.

We've really been looking forward to fresh air at night and just as cooler weather finally arrives, so does the truck that spreads chicken litter over the pastures and hay fields across the road from us! For those of you who aren't all that country savvy, North Carolina has quite a few commercial chicken farmers who raise chickens for your table in these large buildings. These chickens never see fresh air or anything outside the walls of their houses until the time comes for them to be shipped to the chicken processing plants. Not only that, but the houses are crammed full of chickens!

Once that bunch of chickens has gone to the processing plant, the farmer cleans out the chicken houses to ready the houses for the next delivery of chicks. This results in a tremendous amount of waste to be disposed of. The wise farmer makes money from his chickens then sells the chicken waste to other farmers who spread the mixture (containing wood shavings, chicken waste and dead chickens) over their fields and allow it to sheet compost, or break down over time. You cannot imagine the smell when it's first put on a field. And, to top it off, our prevailing winds come mainly from the northeast and the fields in question are nearly directly north of us!

So, no open windows last night & probably none today nor tonight! The wind has shifted slightly so it's coming from more to the south this morning so I quickly hung up a couple of loads of laundry. I've been trying to offset our rising electric bill by saving when and wherever I can. Hanging the laundry outside was one of the steps I was taking to conserve electricity. There's also nothing like the smell of laundry hung in the fresh air and sunshine! However, that dividend is certainly lost if the wind happens to be from the wrong direction!

Well, the chicken litter usually quits smelling real bad after a few days and a good rain - unfortunately for us, no rain is expected for at least a week!

Ahhhhh, Fall - and the joys of country life!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A Real DUH! Moment

Imagine my horror and chagrin when I happened to glance at the bunny I'd just painted and realized that one of his ears was facing the wrong way! Sheesh! I gotta quit doing things like that - for one of the challenges at Let's Make Art, I painted a little baby bird with one of it's toes on backwards! At least I have a sort of excuse for that as the challenge photo was very dark and hard to see in the area of his feet.

I'm sure glad I caught the rabbit's ear though as it would have been very embarrassing had someone else pointed it out to me!

All's well that ends well, I guess.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Bunny Rabbit

Bunny Pastel
Jan Gibson

I don't know why, but I've been wanting to paint a little bunny for some time so I finally finished one this morning. It's only 5"x7" but it took as long as a regular, large-sized painting. I guess it was all that "ticking" in the bunny's fur. It was a matter of going back and forth with one color then a second or third color then back to the first color then repeating the process a few times. I've been told that pastels are painted like oils going from dark to light, but I found it much easier to go from light to dark then back again for this bunny. I do think I'd like to work on the background some more though as you always see things to change once a piece is posted online!

I'm still trying to find more information on framing pastels without glass and emailed someone who has been experimenting with framing colored pencil paintings without glass. The artist, Gary Ruuska, was kind enough to email me back very quickly with information he had presented in an article in FMP, Ann Kulberg's online magazine for colored pencil artists. It would be wonderful to find a method that works well and doesn't darken or change the painting during the sealing process. I had planned to use this bunny for experimenting but since I waited so long to paint him and actually like the way he came out, I think I'll wait to experiment on another painting that I don't like quite as well!

Monday, September 15, 2008

No Update

Sorry, I don't have an update on the little English bulldog. It's just not going well enough right at the moment and looks like a mess. I suppose I should take heart and just consider it in that "ugly stage" and work through it but I just can't make myself do it right now. The actual dog is going pretty well - it's the grass he's sitting on that doesn't look quite right. I think that may be because I only have a few shades of green in my pencil case and there are so many subtle shades in it. I've tried adding the complements or highlighting with yellows or darkening with blues but it still doesn't look like grass. And, no, I'm not trying to paint each individual blade although it might go better if I did! lol

Anyway, I've set it aside for now to keep from getting mud and have started to work on a little bunny rabbit. It's being done on Ampersand Pastelbord and I find I'm liking this support very much. I would like to use glassless framing for this piece as an experiment but am just not sure of the best way to do it.

I have an article from the Pastel Journal by Sandra K. Jackoboice downloaded from her website where she describes her method of sealing and varnishing pastel works on board for glassless framing. I'm told that Tricia Messenger also has a method for paper works but I've been unable to find anything about her method at all.

I'm also in awe of the work done by colored pencil artist, Nicole Caulfield, who uses a glassless framing method for her beautiful colored pencil paintings and I would like to explore using her method for pastel. Sandra Jackoboice says that the sealing process darkens her pastel paintings considerably and I just feel as if there should be some other means to accomplish the seal without excessive darkening of the painting. Of course, I will be using archival products so, hopefully, any method I end up choosing will result in a lasting piece of art.

I'll keep you posted on how it goes. I plan to research more before attempting anything though. The Ampersand Pastelboard I'm using is from a package of 4 (Ithink!) 5x7 inch boards in different colors. It was inexpensive enough that I feel I can experiment a little with it. But, it may be a little while as the bunny isn't finished yet anyway. If anyone has any good ideas for glassless framing, please let me know!

Until next time!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Catching Up

copyright Jan Gibson

copyright Jan Gibson

I've been working lately so haven't had a chance to post here. It seems that if you're painting, then you don't have much time for anything else! Anyway, here are a couple of screen shots of a pastel pencil painting that I'm working on. I've signed on at a local gallery and need some art to exhibit there. Since I work mainly on commission, I don't have anything to show especially since the gallery wants animal artwork from me. So, I'm trying to get something worthwhile to show there.

Yesterday was my husband and my 24th wedding anniversary. Seems like only yesterday that we were married yet it also seems that we've been married forever. One of those paradoxes like time disappearing, I think! Anyway, I couldn't be married to a more supportive and wonderful man and I'm looking for many more years with him.

On top of our anniversary, the dogs got sprayed by a skunk again. This is one of those times when I wished we lived in town! Of course, I guess I don't really wish that - there are trade-offs and compromises there that I really don't want to make. But I do wish the dogs would leave the skunks alone when one happens into their area! Cleaning up 2 medium to large sized dogs is no picnic! Plus, no matter how many times you bathe them and how many "de-skunking" recipes you use, a slight skunk odor seems to linger for a very long time.

I do feel sorry for the dogs though. They get banned from the house until they're cleaned up and our male dog will rub his face on the grass until his nose is raw and bleeding. My husband sprayed some kind of animal deterrent around the outside perimeter of the backyard fence in hopes that the skunks will stay away. I don't think they are actually coming into the fenced area but are spraying the dogs through the fence. Neither dog was as odiferous as they could have been, thank God, so I don't think they're getting the full force of the spray. But, no matter where the skunks are, the dogs still end up pretty darned stinky!

Not only is it active season for skunks again but the spiders are weaving their webs in preparation for winter, I guess. All I know is that I've started carrying a long stick when I go out to the barn of a morning. There's nothing worse than running into one unseen web after another and having to pull those sticky web threads from your face and hair! (Well, it is worse when the spider happens to be in the part of the web you walk into!) Not only that, but the web sticks to my glasses and is almost impossible to remove without washing them. The walking stick is great because you can move it around in front of you and pull down any spider webs before walking into them.

Well, I think that catches you up on all of the latest happenings out here in the boonies! I'm going back to work on that cute little bulldog and I'll post any further updates I do on him. Until then, have a super life!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Big Project Photo

Adirondack Furniture Project
Jan Gibson

This is the Adirondack furniture I just finished. The client wanted a tropical theme and also wanted their sailboat to be featured. Because of the spaces between the slats, extremely detailed work just wasn't possible & it was difficult to paint any of it because of the unevenness of most of the surfaces.

As I said earlier, I'm rarely 100% satisfied with anything I do but the clients were very happy with what I'd done. This was a birthday gift for the husband & he was both surprised and thrilled to have his boat immortalized on a chair! I'm told he promptly claimed the blue chair as his own and had lunch in it as soon as they got everything home and set up on their porch!

I'm always glad when the clients are pleased of course. They have promised to recommend me to others but I'm not so sure I'd like to take on such a project again! Maybe if I were to just paint what & how I wanted to and offer the items for sale, it would be easier. It's always somewhat stressful to try to interpret what a client really wants. Even when they tell you, their mind picture of the end result is often different than mine. I was pleased with the trompe L'oleil salt shaker as this was my first attempt at this sort of thing. It went well because it was placed on a solid leg and in a position that made it easier to paint.

Jan Gibson

Anyway, this was a fun project and I learned a lot from it. I don't think I'd like to be in the decorative painting business and I don't think I'd like to paint murals. However, there's this big, blank wall in our master bath that is just perfect for a mural featuring a dolphin or two! Hmmm, maybe next year!