Listen to the road

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Excellent class

The author of Fearless Watercolor for Beginners, Sandrine Pelissier, has several great online
classes as well as many free tutorials. During the past few months these have given me some
pleasure and a retreat from reality.  Here are a couple of my finished paintings.

She has many free tutorials online too!
I enjoyed her class so much that I signed up for her new 26 week course. 

I've been watching Chris Cozen's wonderful DVDs on Acrylic underpainting, etc.
 and her new book, Acrylic Color Exploratioins, which looks very good.
Now, if it just would get cold I could stay in and paint. 



Saturday, August 1, 2015

July and slowing down

The main grass cutter has died. Bob's using a tractor and pull
along cutter. For tight spaces (like the fenced in pet cemetery)
he found other good, four legged solutions. 

The daily rain has turned into humid heat. Finally have
some ripe tomatoes to make into sauces for winter. Going
to make some extra hot salsa.

Also working on some roosting pockets for our year round birds. Last winter
was so bitterly cold. Lining them with felted sweaters. Using thrift store
yarn so little cost, also little color choice. 
I'm sure the birds won't mind. Jute was way to scratchy.

We're dealing with the heat by slowing down.  
Autumn is my time to work on more painting.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Beginning again

I haven't painted much this spring. Daily drawing in journals and studying online tutorials
have kept me in the game. These small oils are the first of this year. The size, 5 x 7, taught
me to hold back on facial details, to suggest rather than spell out every facial plane and
highlight. Wish I could UNpaint parts of these!

 Learning the patience to look for answers when I came upon problems-like how to
paint sand in oils. This is the before the sand study. Flat and dull.

 I'm happy I stopped on facial detail here. The hanging clothes need shading.

I feel like a beginner again. Thank goodness so many artists online are generous
in tutorials. I've been painting in different mediums with uneven success but lots
of learning!

We've had daily thunderstorms here lately. The kind of Va summers I remember from
childhood. They gallup over us through the night like some huge beast. You can hear them
in the distance until light and sound crashes right over us. Then they prowl away. Exciting!
I hope your summer is exciting (in a good way)!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sheep shearing day

This is the time of year our sheep are visited by Shepherdess Elaine for shearing.
This year we met her apprentice, Lane. 

Elaine usually uses the electric shears but this time Lane used manual shears
for practice. She dresses in period costume in Colonial Williamsburg and shears
their sheep manually as a living history for visitors. Hard work. 

After shearing the ewe steps out of her wool coat!

By coincidence, as they walked out to the barn I turned on our PBS radio station
to find Tom Ashbrook interviewing James Rebanks who has just written a book
about sheep farming in England. 
Free of their heavy winter coats all the ewes leaped, butted each other and
generally had a happy afternoon!

Sunday, May 31, 2015

mini fabric collage

Lately I have odd snippets of time to work on making things.
For years I've made these 2 inch square fabric collage brooches. They're
great on big sweaters, coats or hats. I'll be putting some in my etsy
shop soon. I do love of foxes!

 Many of them have words and pictures together. I tell a story
 in each one and get lots of comments
when I wear them. People find different stories in them.
That's satisfying when this happens.

Good for those days when painting seems like too much.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New critter in the studio looking for a name

In the Freehand book I discovered  Kristen Donegan who sells wonderful
paintings and sculpture on Etsy and I bought this new studio critter (which arrived today).

(The background above is by Lisbeth Zwerger.)

I took her around to introduce her to the others here...dusty donkey,

 my pencils and pens,



 tomato plants,

and the new bluebird family.

She needs a name...any suggestions? Did I mention she has a bell in her tummy?
She's a happy new studio buddy.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Three steps forward, then two back

Lately my energy to create has been low. I've tried all sorts of strategies to unblock and
get going again. I began contour drawing with my left hand, then detail/painting with
my right (dominant) hand. This sheepish dog came out with just the right feeling even if
it's not representational. It's about all I care to show for my work lately.

Recently I bought Freehand

 Helen Birch has put together a book of ideas from working artists and illustrators
with many, many photos of their work to show how they build drawings. I took all day
to read it yesterday and have learned something from almost every one of the 100+
illustrations. Happily, I'm out of my rut and working again. Probably the best art book I've
bought this year.

So it seems to go...three steps forward and two back. Hope your spring is going well!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

At the tail end of winter and a great art book

 This was the front yard last May. Just to offer some hope.

 Same place this morning. Just imagine you're a short legged
mini doxey facing this for about 2 weeks. Brave dog.

 I've worked on these spring scenes while stuck inside.

It's been a nice break from oils.

This book is opening my mind to shape, color, texture and form. Of all the
books I've read this winter this has been most helpful to me. The author
hasn't offered a 'do this then do that' type of teaching. Reading
 about her process changed how I  look at subjects.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Rare sight-Virginia Rail

Yesterday morning I made a bird seed and suet run before the snow.
As the snow began this visitor, I believe he's a Virginia Rail, fed heavily on suet.

You can see how big he is compared to the suet block!
My first sighting of this bird. Huge feet...had a hard
time hanging on while he fed.

Friday, February 13, 2015


Right here at the edge of winter it's about 25 degrees midday. The sun shines a bit longer each
evening but no extra warmth. Still, something is up.

I hear bird songs I haven't heard since fall. This morning I noticed the robins
hopping, listening, hopping, dancing on the frosty grass.  A new rhythm, another animal's
sense of life under the earth.

Even in this wind and cold something else is up. 

Our home is surrounded by trees and birds and animals. Here the mini seasons and
the subtle shifts show themselves if we pay attention.

This Earth continues under the sun and moon and we can witness, feel and love it.
There is Big Life visible every day and I'm part of it, dependent on it, in love with it.

Recently an old friend who's offered a life working
to save a specific part of our planet expressed despair.
Our earth may not make it another 100 years and we're a big part of the reason.

My advice to this friend was to read a book that has saved my sanity more than once.
Joanna Macy's ­World as Lover, World as Self.

I took my own advice and read it again.  It's good medicine for anyone concerned about or in pain for
our planet. It's a powerful tool to stay engaged when despair seems the only logical perspective.
Stay warm!

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Under the winter cold

 The first seed catalog came in the mail. Although this has been the coldest
winter here I can remember, we haven't had any snow yet (knock wood).

 I'm trying to loosen up and see color and pattern rather than
insist on realistic images. Lighter and simpler.

 These were fun to draw and tint.Especially now that
the world is so black, white and grey.

I signed up for an online class with Daniel Donaldson beginning
in March. Hoping it will help lighten up my drawing and mark making.

Stay warm!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Deer hounds

In 1969 my dad found and rescued a puppy of undetermined breed.

He grew and grew,

and grew some more. We found out we had
a Scottish Deer Hound. My brother named
him Thunderbolt. He was huge but very
gentle, letting our cat ride on his back.

It was fun to paint these deer hounds.

It's so cold and bare here. No snow yet. We're in hibernation mode.

Wearing lots of layers and doing inside stuff. 
Underground spring bulbs are dreaming.
Hope you are warm!