Sunday, January 31, 2010

What a Difference a Day Makes!


On Friday, January 29, 2010, we had a really lovely day.  Yes, it was getting a little overcast and the temp was falling a bit but it was still relatively warm.  If you look closely at the photo on the top (click to enlarge), you can see that we still had green grass and those are wild turkeys foraging behind the trees - the most I've ever seen at one time!
Then, things changed very rapidly and and by mid-morning on January 30, 2010, we had a view that included snow as shown in the photo on the bottom!

You all know that I consider snow a four-letter word, especially with the very low temperatures and the wind that made it seem even colder!  Fortunately, we didn't lose power although we were prepared for that, and I had prepared some good old comfort food like homemade vegetable soup just in case.

The only thing we weren't prepared for was Bonnie going through the shavings in her stall so quickly.  She didn't venture out all day yesterday and she usually loves to be out in any rain or snow even if it's a cold/freezing rain.  But, she stayed in her stall all day and went through shavings as if the barn were full of replacements!  Of course, we thought we had plenty based on her past habits so her stall is down to the bare earth floor and there are even puddles standing in the stall corner.  Little minx!  Now she has no bedding to speak of as we couldn't leave soggy wet shavings in her stall.  

The roads are solid ice around here but I'm hoping we'll be able to get out later this afternoon and if we can get to the main road, we hear that south of us isn't so bad.  Maybe we can get to Tractor Supply and pick up a few bales of shavings IF they're even open today!

Oh, the absolute joy of winter!

Friday, January 29, 2010

There's a Bear in the Floor!

Do you remember looking at the sky as a kid and seeing all kinds of things in the clouds?  Well, we have some vinyl flooring with abstract patterns in it and I can look at it and see various things also. 

For instance, there's a bear that I see on a daily basis and also a dove! 

 And, from time to time, I can see a pig, and either a calla lilly or a vulture (depending on the angle and the mood I'm in!  lol!!) plus many other animals or flowers or other objects.

The above are a couple of quick sketches that I've done this morning.  I'm trying to exercise my imagination and am actively looking for things in all the odd places!

Give it a try, I'm sure you'll enjoy it and the benefit is well worth the effort!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Anjou To The Core

I think most of you have seen this painting before - it's another colored pencil and one that I like even though I'm sure there are plenty of flaws in it.

I'm dragging it out again because I've submitted it to a website specializing in paintings of pears!  I know pears are favorite subjects for paintings so it's a wonder that someone hadn't thought of this before.  Anyway, I've just submitted it and don't know how it's decided whether a painting will be accepted or whether all submissions are accepted or what. 

I have no idea whether my pears will appear on the website or not but it's a huge step for me to put my work, especially work in colored pencil, out there in such a public way.  There are some really, really beautiful pears on that site and if my painting is accepted, it would be a real thrill for me to be in such distinguished company!

Here's the website if anyone wants to take a look at all the beautiful art or even submit their pear paintings:

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do-It-Yourself Hardboard Painting Panels

I apologize for neglecting my blog for so long again but I really have been busy!  I bought a 4x8 foot hardboard panel (1/8 inch thick) from our local home improvement store and my husband and I have been cutting different sizes of panels that I can prep to paint on.

Since I use the 11x14 inch size most for my paintings, I took half of the panel (4x4 foot) and cut eight 11x14 inch boards.  I could have gotten more from this half of the original panel but I wanted to have some leftover to cut into other sizes.  There were a couple of leftover strips that were 4 and almost 6 inches wide respectively and I cut a couple of 4x6 inch OSWOA-sized boards from the first (still with enough leftover material for more of the same size) and from the other piece, I plan to cut some 5x7 inch boards in the future.

I debated with myself for a very long time as to the practicality of making my own painting supports and read as much as I could find about the process.

The biggest drawback at first seemed to be finding hardboard that did not use any oil in the process of forming the panels.  But the more I read about the process of making hardboard (also called "Masonite" in much the same way we say "Kleenex" when referring to any tissue brand), I saw that most modern hardboards are not processed with oil any longer but use a resin to hold the wood particles together.  I also felt pretty safe in using common hardboard as long as I used a blocking sealer/primer to seal the hardboard after cutting to size and before doing any kind of finish or actually painting on the panel.

So, after cutting the panels that I've cut so far, I lined them all up and gave each at least 2 coats of Kilz water-based sealer/primer and after that, I sanded lightly and am in the process of coating each panel with many coats of gesso, dry-sanding smooth about every second or third coat.

For the panels that I plan to use for pastel, I'll use about 4 coats of gesso, allowing it to dry 24 hours between coats as recommended.  After the last coat of gesso is thoroughly dry, I'll prime with Colour-Fix primer.  For the panels that I may use for acrylic painting or even watercolor, I'll apply 6 to 8 coats of gesso.

I knew the preparation of the panels would be time-consuming but it's not been as bad as I thought it might be.  Once I had the panels cut to size, it was a simple matter to lay them all out on my big work table and coat them with the primer.  I used a roller and it was very quick to do them all at once.  Once the primer was dry on one side, I could just turn them all over and repeat the process.  Pretty much the same goes for the applications of gesso.  The biggest thing there is the drying time between coats.

Of course I'm not finished with any of it yet but I do think preparing my own panels may result in significant cost savings over buying them already prepared.  I do value my time but I also happen to like using power saws and I like preparing my own boards because then I know what's gone into the process.

The 4x8 hardboard panel was probably the cheapest element of all with the whole panel being less than $7.00.  The Kilz stain-blocking sealer/ primer wasn't outrageously expensive either and is touted to block any migration from the surface it is applied to to the finished surface.  I'm pretty sure it was under $10 for a quart and I still have about 3/4 of it left as it goes a very long way.  By far the most expensive items are the gesso and the Colour-Fix primer.  But, I had both on hand already so will have to compare prices when I buy more to replace what I've used.

All in all, I think making your own painting panels is worthwhile costwise but only if you like doing all that prep work.  Again, it really only takes a short time to coat the panels with either primer or gesso, the sanding doesn't really require much time or effort and the worst part is just waiting for the panels to dry so you can proceed to the next step.

I have to say something about the cutting of the panels though.  It's a pain in the patootie to figure out the most efficient way to cut the panel sizes you want but this is a crucial first step!  You'll end up with a lot of waste if you don't take the time for this.  Also, if you aren't comfortable with (or don't have) power saws, or saws in general, then I wouldn't advise you to even consider making your own panels.  If you have to pay to have the panels cut to size, you'll probably lose any savings you might have gained by making your own.

So, that's what I've been up to lately - what's going on with all of you?

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thank You, Jo!

I wanted to mention that Jo Castillo also did a blog post about Annie, the little ShihTzu I posted about a while back.  It seems that her daughter also has an Annie look-a-like who's also a Broncos fan!  It's a small world sometimes!

Unfortunately, Annie (the painting, not the actual dog!) got damaged in shipment to my client in Colorado and will have to be repainted.  I thought I had packed the painting so well that it would be almost impossible to damage but I seriously under estimated our USPS!  I guess you could pack something in cold rolled steel and they'd find a way to either damage or lose it.

Fortunately, the painting was insured but I've heard absolutely nothing from my claim.  Since I really struggled with this painting, I just about wept when the customer told me it arrived with a large crease in it!  She sent photos and here is one that shows the damage clearly.
Of course, it's damaged in an area where it couldn't even be covered with a mat!  So, I'm sure you're wondering how it was packed - first, I sandwiched the painting between a piece of matboard weight cardboard with a mat cut so that only the edges of the painting were covered.  This was covered with another piece of cardboard and taped to a piece of foam board so that the painting couldn't shift around in transit.  The whole thing was put into a crystal bag then put into a tyvek-type envelope.  In hindsight, I'm sure I should have used a cardboard mailer in addition to all of the cardboard I did use but I've never had any problems with a damaged painting before.  The heck of it was that we waited until after Christmas to mail to avoid the Christmas package deluge!

Maybe the postal employees were just rebelling at another package just when they thought the rush was over!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thank you, Joann!

I just wanted to thank Joann from the Painted Panache blog for featuring me on her blog today.  I hope you've seen her blog listed on my favorite links and have visited before but if you haven't, check it out!  You can check out her interview with me and maybe even learn something you didn't already know!  lol

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Acrylic Painting In the Works

I started a new acrylic painting over Christmas and am just now getting back to it. 

A few years ago, my husband wanted to cultivate some seedlings in our garden so I had him dress in overalls with an old straw hat.  Since he was using the hand cultivator for the delicate plants, I thought it would make an excellent photo opportunity for a future painting. That future painting is this one.

I'm using the Golden Open Acrylics that I got some time ago and just haven't had the time (nor the inspiration) to use for a painting.  I thought they'd be perfect for this subject though.

As you can see, I've just basically blocked in the colors and this is in the early stages so there's not much detail nor variation in the colors I do have.  Someone once told me that paintings with a lot of green in them were boring and awful so my job will be to make this painting interesting.  North Carolina is a very green state and we have a lot of pasture and green trees on our property.  It would not be very true-to-life if I changed that but I do intend to vary the shades of green and try to keep the focal point on my husband and what he's doing.  There will also be fencing around the pastures that will perhaps add more interest.

This is another one of those paintings whose subject is way out of my comfort zone so I'm posting so you'll all hold me accountable to finish it!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Goodbye Chance

This post is very difficult for me but I wanted to pay tribute to our beloved Chance who crossed the Rainbow Bridge on New Year's Day.

We got Chance when our vet, who also does some rescue, told me that she had a four month old puppy who might be perfect for our family.  She encouraged me to take him home with me to see how he fit in and I said, "OK, I'll take a chance on him."  He did fit with my husband and I and his name became Chance.  That was about 15 years ago and I have to say that Chance was the best dog who's ever owned us!

We lost our female Lab mix earlier in 2009 and we are now dog-less.  When we lost Coal, Chance, who was always more my dog anyway, became my "velcro" dog.  Even now, I expect to see him guarding the bathroom door when I emerge from my shower or lying touching my feet while I watch tv.  And I still take a huge step to make sure I don't step on him as I go to use the scanner or paper cutter in the studio.  And what will my customers think if there's no stray black hair clinging to their packaged portrait?   

I don't think we will get another dog although I have never been without a dog in my life for any length of time.  It wouldn't be fair to another dog as I think I would constantly compare it to Chancey.  No other dog could be possibly be so well-behaved and so loving.  Plus, it just hurts too much to lose them.

Goodbye Chancey - you were loved very much!