Wednesday, June 30, 2010

As I Was Saying -------

We had a storm last night and the photos here show what I was saying about the peach trees being so easily damaged.

The photo on the left is from our front orchard and between the weight of the peaches and the wind, the old tree just couldn't take it.

The photo on the right is of our back orchard and shows some more trees that split during the storm.  I didn't zoom in on them because I thought the rainbow was way more interesting to look at!  If you look closely, you can see that it touches down inside the orchard!

A careful search of the area did not result in the finding of any treasure!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

And Now, Back to Pastel!

This is an ATC (2-1/2" x 3-1/2") I did for an exchange in an art forum I belong to.  It's pastel on the U-Art 800 sanded paper which I'm beginning to like better.  However, like all the other sanded papers, it sure doesn't photograph well!  This time I scanned it at about 600 dpi then reduced it for the web in my graphics software.  It still isn't quite true to the actual painting but maybe you get the ideal. 

I named it "All The Sweetness of Summer" as that first tree-ripened peach is the true indicator that summer is really here - at least for us.  We have about 100 peach trees but they're well over 20 years old and just aren't producing much any more.  They're also getting "brittle" and the least bit of wind will split the tree or at least break out branches.  Because of that, we're gradually taking them out.

That's really for the best though as we started out thinking that we could raise peaches organically.  Unfortunately, peaches are very disease-prone and the bugs love them too.  Organic methods work but constant attention is necessary and is very labor-intensive. 

So, we've planted a couple of new trees that we'll baby along and hope they'll produce enough peaches to herald in summer as well as enough for our table and the freezer!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And Back To Watercolor

I belong to a group called "Paint My Photo" and Rich, one of the members, posted a photo of a Chickadee that I couldn't resist attempting to paint. 

Of course, after being away from watercolors for ages, I would decide to paint it on watercolor canvas (in a pad from Fredrix)!  The canvas buckled as badly as unstretched watercolor paper and it was difficult to paint on it.

However, paint lifts wonderfully from the canvas so any mistakes wipe right off and can be re-painted.  The canvas also makes for great texture so I guess the good and bad of it are about equal.  It would just depend on how you paint as to whether you would enjoy this support or not. 

I'll know to stretch it and tape it down if I ever use the canvas again and I don't think I'd use it for transparent watercolor in the tubes/pans.  I've used it before with watercolor "crayons" and that worked fairly well.  And I think gouache might work with it ok. 

I've had this pad of canvas for years though and it may be a long time before I use it again.  The idea of a canvas that will accept watercolor is a good one but, for me at least, the reality doesn't work as well as the idea.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SpectaFix Brand Fixative

 "Southern Magnolia"

I got an order in from Dick Blick a couple of weeks ago or so and have just now been able to play with some of the things I bought.

Most of the items were simply restocking some of my favorite supports but I added a new item this time - SpectraFix, the relatively new fixative made with a milk casein formula.  I was eager to try it since it's not an aerosol in a can and is not supposed to smell nor be that toxic to use.

One of the things I hate most about pastel is fixing it!  I have to go outside to spray because my studio does not have adequate ventilation for most aerosol fixatives.  That's a royal pain when the weather is bad and even if the weather cooperates, I like to spray between layers (until the last one) and that's a lot of running in and out!

So I was delighted to hear of this spray.  It's still an aerosol but comes in a pump spray bottle instead of the usual cans with chemical propellants.  I put it to the test with the magnolia painting above.

I'm very pleased to say that it does work very well as a fixative and there really isn't any smell! 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

New Friend in Texas

CiCi has opened many doors for friendship since we've had her but one of the nicest people I've met has been Suzanne in Tx.

I "met" Suzanne while searching for a harness for CiCi that wouldn't rub her "arm" pits and neck area.  I found Suzanne's Etsy shop and blog where she sells collars and accessories and patterns/tutorials for sewing your own!  I thought a custom made harness might be just the thing for CiCi and emailed Suzanne to ask about the fastenings on the harnesses.

She not only emailed me back promptly with answers, she also emailed me again later saying that she had read my blog about CiCi and wanted to recommend a product called Angels' Eyes for white dogs!  I thought that was kindness above and beyond the ordinary.

So, Suzanne, I just want to thank you publicly for your kindness.

And all of you with pets, go see Suzanne's Etsy shop and then mosey on over to her blog!

and Suzanne's blog Suzanne's Crazy For Collars

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Another CiCi Photo!

Thought you might like to see a full length photo of CiCi.  She was almost shaved when we got her so she doesn't have the Maltese show dog hair but she's still beautiful, isn't she?

CiCi is such a little wimp about some things!  She's very quiet and very well-behaved but she'd almost rather take a beating than go outside.  We've not had any problems with accidents in the house but she will hold it forever to avoid going out.

I try to take her out frequently but instead of nosing around learning about her new environment, she will promptly sit or lie down and won't move unless it's to head for the porch!  If she sees me heading for the house, she will race to beat me there so she's in position to dart through the door the moment I open it!

Little rascal!  Isn't she a cutie?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

More on CiCi

Thanks to all of you who have sent us well wishes both on this blog and by email and in person!

CiCi is doing well but she is still a bit on the timid side especially with my husband.  We have a feeling she may not have been treated very well in her past life.  Who knows where she was before she was found, plus, she spent a couple of weeks in a shelter while advertisement was made looking for her owners in case she was lost.  After that, she was placed in foster care with the rescue organization for about 2 weeks.  During that two weeks, she was spayed, had her teeth extracted and got all the immunizations that were needed.  That two weeks also had her on antibiotics which may have made her a little "out of it" and the foster home also had other dogs that may have been intimidating to her.

It's no wonder she's still a bit cautious around us.  Her foster parents were great though and had started socializing her and teaching some basic commands.  She really does very well, she's just very quiet.

Sue asked about what we feed her since she has no teeth.  She gets both a canned soft food and also a freeze-dried bagged food that reconstitutes soft but still with some texture which she seems to like.  It's so funny to go from feeding a 70 + pound dog to one that weighs less than 6 pounds!  We've gone from nearly a heaping food bowl to only a heaping tablespoon of food per feeding! 

I promised to tell you about my husband's reaction to her when we first met her.  It was so funny - we got to meet CiCi and spend a couple of hours with her but it was a week before we could actually have her with us.  During that time, my DH and I were trying to decide what we'd need to buy for her since we had nothing for a dog of her size.  A friend had given us a pet catalog and we also made a trip to PetSmart to look at items.

The first thing my husband wanted to buy for her was the little pink "Princess" bed shown in the photo in the previous post.  Then we looked at collars - he insisted on pink with jewels on it but changed his mind because the gems on it weren't real!  He also conspired with my friend, the pet shop owner, to get little outfits to dress her up in!  (I did object to that!)

What is so odd is that my DH might be considered a redneck in many ways and these actions are sort of out of character for him!  He's a sweet, loving man but not someone I would have expected to go ga-ga over a little "frou-frou" dog!  But, maybe I should have expected this - after all, he's the same man who planted wildflowers in Bonnie's pasture as a living tribute to her!

Friday, June 4, 2010

I'm A Mom Again!

Well, in a way.  After all, very few grandmothers actually become mothers again.  But, we have a adopted a sweet little Maltese named CiCi and have just gotten her home today.  Bless her little heart, she was found wandering down a very busy highway and even after repeated advertising, she wasn't claimed.

The rescue agency where I try to help with pet portraits for fund raising was the rescue who took her in and it's estimated that she's about 4 to 5 years old.  It's assumed that she was a back-yard breeders bitch who was no longer producing and was turned out to fend for herself.  They don't think she was from a puppy mill  as she does have some social skills.  However, all of her teeth had to be pulled as they were all either loose or almost rotted away and she was a little timid at first.

Fortunately for us, she's not a rambunctious little ankle-biter but is very laid back and calm - exactly what we need in our household.

I know, I know - I said we weren't going to get any more animals but she needed us and, well, we needed her even more.

The decision to adopt another dog came about when my husband took a trip to Florida to see his mother and attend his niece's wedding.  These were plans that were made before I lost my beloved Bonnie.  I hadn't planned to go since I thought I'd be needed to stay here to take care of Bon.  Bonnie died just a few days before my DH left so I had no time to prepare to go with him.

During the time he was away, I got really lonesome - lonesome to the point where I "borrowed" a wonderful Golden Retriever from a friend for a night!  When my husband came home, he was full of stories about playing with his niece's dog and stated that we really needed to get another one.  I had to agree!

But, since our last dog weighed over 70 pounds and sometimes got so arthritic that we had to carry him outside to use the bathroom, we decided that a small dog was in order this time.  My friend who lent me her Golden put the word out on her rescue grapevine and it wasn't half an hour after sending her email that possibilities began to arrive in her email!

Little CiCi was the first picture to arrive and I fell in love.  My DH was wary but when we actually met her, he was more entranced with her than I was!  But, that's a story for another day as this is getting too long as it is!

I'll keep you updated on how CiCi is doing and the incredible changes in my husband because of her!