Sunday, March 6, 2016

... The Rain Has Stopped...Rest Well 'Pop' ...

Richard E. Leib, 1935-2016.
    It feels like it's been raining for so long... I've been away from my art and my normal life for many, months. I've been a bit quiet about it all. I have shared some with my very close friends but for the most part, I've been holding things inside. It's time to talk about it since the rain has stopped for now...

   Last week, this past Tuesday, my father in law, Richard E. Leib, passed away after a 2 month struggle.
On January 2nd, a snowy and icy morning, he went for his usual morning walk at Walker Park, near his home. He, very unfortunately,  slipped and fell on the ice and broke his neck. He had 2 major surgeries to repair the injury but everything that could possibly go wrong, did...  He became paralyzed as a result of the injury, developed pneumonia, inability to breath, had to be on a ventilator, endured a tracheotomy, gastric tube was very, very bad....
Richard passed away under the wonderful care of the nurses and staff at the Center For Hospice House last Tuesday at 5:00pm.he was in the company of his wife of 58 years, Lois and his son, my husband, Mark. It was uneventful and peaceful. I can not say enough good things about this place....

   Our relationship together was often tenuous. We are both opinionated, stubborn, strong, creative people. As a result, we didn't see eye to eye often....however in the last two years, we mutually worked on that. It was good. He was proud of my art and I was proud of his photography. We found our common ground.
   In the last 2 months, I showed him the tender side of me that he has not experienced because I guard that side of me and I allow very few see it.
When they moved him into ICU a few days after his first surgery, he had trouble speaking but he insisted that if he passed away that night, he wanted us to have a talk. He was having great difficulty breathing and he was very upset and crying. I took a hold of his hand, and I smoothed his forehead and his hair with my other hand. I gently and very softly told him that he didn't have to say anything, that I understand what he wants to tell me. I told him "I love you Pop, everything is just fine between us, there is nothing more we need to say, we are OK..." That calmed him down and he shed a few tears. I told him to try and not speak, to just try to relax. That was the last night he was able to speak for a while because after that he was on a ventilator and had a tracheotomy placed after that.
When he was in the hospital, I decided to brush his hair. He was a vain man and appearances were very important to him. I know it was a small thing to do but it was a huge gesture to him so I brushed his hair every time I visited, which was often and sometimes by myself. I remember the first time telling him it makes me feel better that he looks good and he smiled and told me it makes him feel better I  brushed his hair every time...
When he was moved to Hospice House, I went over after work and we were having a 'blizzard'. I told him it was snowing outside and how pretty it was. I asked if he would like to see and touch the snow and he gestured he would. So I went and got a styrofoam cup from the common kitchen area, went outside and got a cupful of snow. I brought the snow to him. I touched his hand to it, rubbed it on his face and he opened his mouth so I let him taste it and rubbed it on his lips. The emotion he had was something I will never was one of those moments. Even now it makes me tear up.

Rick was a very strong man who did not want to die. He was adamant that everything that could be done, be done. And we did everything...but in the end, acceptance of reality hit him and our family hard. Sometimes, you have to accept that things just change and we have no control. He was ready 'to go home' so we accepted his wish. Even in death he was stubborn...but it was comfortable and peaceful for him.  I am ever grateful for that.
Pop, I want you to know that we will take care of Mom and you will be greatly missed...our Saturday morning coffee hour will continue and your son will sit in your chair. We love so much...and tomorrow at your funeral, that feeling will be very palpable...
Rest well Pop...the rain has finally stopped....

...Creating a Photo Miracle...

   All the credit goes to photo editing software(and a bit to my skills too)!
So the obituary photo that my sister in law submitted was just not good quality. She took a cellphone photo of a wallet sized photo and the exposure was terrible, the image was bad quality. I just wasn't going to allow anyone else to try and edit that photo. I knew that he would appreciate the fact that I do this for him. I volunteered to edit the wallet sized image so here is what I did.
First, I cropped and scanned the image with my scanner, setting the resolution at 400 DPI. I wanted to get the best possible quality I could from this tiny photo. Using GIMP (because I am cheap and refuse to give Adobe my money) I selected the clone tool and a round, soft edged brush and basically just took my mother in law completely out. After I got most of her out of the image, I went to work rebuilding details in his clothes and the edges of his hair. I really love the clone tool for this because you can clone similar areas.  I set the opacity at 100% for this stage. This will give you a 'rough' mock up that will be ready to fine tune.
For the fine tuning. I blow up the image in size to 400% so I can see things. I increase the pixel size of the image to smooth and soften things a bit. Then I sharpen things up until the details are a bit clearer but not too 'harsh'. To get the back ground lighter and mottled, I use another brush, it looks like candy sprinkles that you put on cookies. GIMP literally calls it the 'sprinkle brush'. I then set the opacity at about 60% and again, using the clone stamp tool, I start mottling the background. I go back and forth choosing lighter and darker colors until I get the background how I want it. After that, I go to work on the edges around him and I clean things up. I soften things, using the same tools. Lastly I use a smudge tool with the same round, soft edge brush setting and I soften things and blend things a bit. For some details in the clothing, I use the round, soft edge paintbrush and I repaint details that I know 'would be there' if it weren't for Mom's arms draped around him. Now mind you this is only going to be an obituary sized photo for the paper, I knew the quality probably didn't matter that much but it was important to me. After all that was completed, I emailed it back to the funeral director so he could get it to the paper in time.
Mom Leib told me yesterday that he was so impressed with the magic I worked on that photo, he couldn't get over it. I think I might have a new part time job editing photos. ;)

I think Pop would have been so pleased and proud that I made him look good again for his final public send off. It was very important to me so I did my best with what little I had to work with....

...When It Rains...

WIP(work in progress), 'When It Rains'

 Which now brings me to a little bit of happy news...after nearly 3 months of not painting, I have found the time to start painting again. I can't tell you how GOOD it felt to paint on Friday!!!
I even got a studio visit by my brother!
It was such a good day, I went to the grocery and picked up some sushi and enjoyed a late lunch of sushi(a rare treat for me) and had a beer! :)
So now I am back working on the painting that's patiently been waiting for me to return.

Let me tell you the story behind this one....
I started this painting because of stress and as a way of coping with it. Just when you think you have enough to deal with, something else happens (both my Mom and Mother in law are battling cancer) what do you do when it rains and someone pours some salt in the wounds? You hunker down with an umbrella and you cope the best you can and hope the rain stops soon.
I chose these objects specifically to tell this story.
I am getting close to finishing it. Now I am fine tuning and tightening the details. I'll probably have this done in a month I think. Since I am working again, my time is a bit more limited in the studio so I am not as fast as I once was because of that but it'll get there. :)

...Finding Balance...

'Finding Balance'. Oil on wood panel.

  'Finding Balance' got her final varnish coat yesterday! Now I wait while she fully dries. The colors and subtle tones that sink in, just come ALIVE when the varnish is applied! I've been patiently anticipating this moment because you have to wait for oils to completely dry before you can do this, otherwise you end up with a mess if you don't. What kind of mess you ask? I'll direct you to Google or look this fact up and learn about it. ;)
I explained the story behind this painting with my last blog post so I'll spare you that explanation again. Now, can you find the yin yang symbol 'hidden' in this painting? I'll admit, it's not hiding very well but it is in a clever spot! :)

   On that note, I am going to bring this to a close. Its so good to be BACK!!! :)
Have a great rest of your weekend....





Saturday, October 17, 2015

Onward, Upward and the Growth in Between

...Life is a Challenge...

'Finding Balance', 11"x14", oil on wood panel, 2015
   Just completed my most recent painting last week, 'Finding Balance'. This particular painting has a lot of personal meaning for me. I chose the subject and each object carefully in order to tell a story. It's subtle, but not to here is the story.

This past year has been most difficult with my Mother being diagnosed with advanced cancer, having surgery, chemotherapy treatment and a suffering a setback or two. It's been a true test of faith and resolve. I'll admit I have fallen apart a few times and lashed out when I shouldn't have.
I've become more remote and quiet at times and have also dissolved in tears numerous times. I have changed.  I 'see' things differently. I am not the same...
It's been a challenge to find the perfect balance between the bitter and the sweet.

When I was trying to come up with ideas for a new painting, I started thinking about all these things and decided to paint one of my favorite foods (pie, I LOVE to bake pie) as a way to illustrate this need for balance. I came up with lemons and lemon meringue it was! I wanted to add a scale to represent balance. I even set up the composition in a way that I normally would not. I made the subject centered and put objects on either side to 'balance it'. If you look close, you will find the 'symbol' for balance buried centrally.
I generally try to stick with only 3 objects and follow the 'rule of thirds' for my compositions however I purposefully broke that rule on this one for obvious works.

It was a challenging painting. I tried some new techniques and made up others. I admit, I completely SUCK at text and wish I knew a way to make it easier (without cheating) but....I don't so I'll keep practicing. I guess I am a glutton for punishment in that way.
All in all, I am quite pleased with how the painting turned out....
I am also at the point of where I really don't care if others like it or not because the point is, I have to paint what's important to me and NOT chase what I think the public might like or what might 'sell'.... I guess I am finally finding some balance in that regard.

...New Challenges, Same Theme...

Sneak ref for next painting.

So to go along with the same theme as my last painting...a sort of 'soul purge' if you will... I decided to describe another theme regarding stress and how we cope with it when it happens. I'm not talking about your average 'run of the mill', every day stress...I'm talking life altering, catastrophic the kind that makes you feel that you can't handle it. What do you do? What can you do?
In all honestly, to say I bucked up and took it is a lie....  I self medicated some....I drank a few too many cocktails(3 is too many IMO) so I made an appointment with my doctor to discuss the stress load. She offered me RX meds but I shied away preferring to try natural alternatives first. I hid from people, became more anxious, I stopped taking care of myself as much, I got angry and I slept erratically...but then one day I woke up and said this just isn't healthy or helpful so I decided I needed to paint what I felt. I decided to take my life back again.
So my next painting will be title 'When it Rain's' which is symbolic for "when it rains, it pours".
I now have another dear family diagnosed with cancer so now it's two people close to me and I have had some challenges dealing with that. I've had to set some literal emotional and physical boundaries. I determined what I needed to worry about and what I need to let go of or give up to everyone else to worry about.
Per my nature, I take on more than I can physically or emotionally handle (because I can't say no easily) but I've determined that this is no longer healthy or beneficial for me.
I've decided to paint my way out and to document that in my own way, to paint what I feel. It may not be what goes with someones couch but THAT ISN'T ART!!! Art has soul and deep meaning... if someone likes it...then I win.....

So the image above is a small snippet of the reference image I photographed for the painting. You will have to wait and see but I think you will be impressed...


First haircut post chemo!

So Mommy got her first haircut on Monday!! The back was so wavy(her hair was always straight before chemo) and shaggy that she couldn't stand it any longer! She called her beautician, Stacy,  and had her very first haircut since February!!!
I can't believe how wavy her new hair is! It's darker too! Her hair was always fine and straight before. She was almost strawberry blonde (but when I was a kid she was a bright red head) in that it had so much white in it however now it's darker and curly! She was so happy after her haircut she decided to go shopping so she drove over to see if I wanted to go thrift shopping with her at our favorite place. I at first ignored the doorbell as I was still in my jammies and in the basement sewing. But then I ran upstairs and saw her I flung the door open,  how could I say no to thrifting and spending time with my beautiful Mom? :)
You know...the one lesson that cancer has taught me is that you should take nothing for granted... you need to spend the time with your family and close friends...they are more important than any money or any 'things' you might covet....just spend that time, because it's irreplaceable....
I am doing just that.... :)

...A New Way to Help...

So lately I've been pondering whether or not it's time to seek employment. I've been feeling a little worried about how I am going to manage this or that and thinking I might have to say no to an upcoming art show if I get juried in....
I had placed a postcard I got in the mail (for a local nursing facility that was offering part time and full-time work) on my desk. It's been sitting there for about a week while I procrastinated and tried to think of other options. I decided today was the day I would check it out...I mean how bad could a few shifts a week be? Dreading it... but the thoughts were getting more appealing... Honestly, selling art, especially if you're self representing, is tedious and difficult on a good day. The time spent promoting, writing, photographing,packing/shipping, editing and publishing is time NOT spent painting but it's necessary time. Sometimes it's a no win situation and you feel like a financial failure...but I persist. I will never stop painting... OK...UNLESS I have a physical barrier(I'm here to tell you I worked on a LARGE commissioned portrait while in a rigid neck brace, post a double laminectomy for 6 weeks , just sayin...) or issue, I will PROBABLY never stop painting however I will stop self representing in the near future I hope/
That being said....I was just about to inquire about the job's outlined on the postcard when I decided to check my messages....and there IT was...a job offer that fell into my lap...a seemingly PERFECT job offer!!! 
I took it!!! I can name my own hours and work close to home...It'll be administrative clerical work essentially auditing medical charts. I was hand picked for the position and I have the BEST boss! :) She hired me on the spot when I agreed!
I'm feeling especially blessed today....sometimes...things just fall into place when they need to...
So I'll get my MP3 player ready with hours worth of melodic Opeth and TOOL to check medical charts by....I'll be in my zone and all will be right....again! :)
Today has been a GREAT day!!! :)

That's all I have...hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend!


Saturday, June 13, 2015

...The Highs, the Low's and the Sweetness of Success...

Best in Show!!

'Best In Show', Elkhart Art League's 2015 Juried Show
    I told my buyer back in May that I wanted to hang onto 'MOOooo' for just a bit longer before we make the exchange. I thought perhaps I might enter her in an upcoming show in hope that I might be able to give my collector a winning painting.
So I entered her in a regional show. It was my first time entering this particular show. What a WONDERFUL experience to say the least!!!

   I dropped off two paintings, both realism pieces but both very different in subject matter.
My thinking here was that I could cover a couple bases depending on what the judge 'might' piece, 'Got Donut's?', being more contemporary and 'MOOooo' being more regional whimsy. If you won, they would call you before the show on Thursday. I didn't think I even placed this time as it was Wednesday night around 7:00pm and I hadn't received a call. I had JUST told the Hub's, "I guess I didn't win but can't win all the time..." to wit he agreed. I walked in the house and my phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number as it was showing an out of state area code. I answered and the gal on the phone asked if I was Kathy and I said I was. She then told me congratulations that I had won an award and to be at the opening reception on Thursday evening. I was stunned! I ran back outside to the patio and told the Hub's my news! He was shocked as he always is when I win.

   After driving to the show in a torrential downpour, the husband (who is never very comfortable at any of my art events) and I walked into the gallery. I always feel a bit awkward at these things (cue up that low self esteem bit here) since I spend so much of my time alone painting. I tend to keep a low profile.  'Got Donuts' was in the front window display so we knew it wasn't that one. It had to be 'MOOooo'. We quietly milled about looking for her.
We didn't see her (MOOooo) anywhere upstairs so we went to lower level. I still didn't see her. I grabbed a small glass of wine so as to not look like a complete idiot and then we headed back upstairs. I grabbed one of the show programs on the table and the Hub's grabbed one as well. I remember saying "Look, 'MOOooo" made the cover! How cool is that!?". I didn't even open the program. Then the Hub's say's 'Are you ready to be more surprised?" I looked at him and said "Why, what?" 
Then he said 'You won BEST of Show!" My reaction was my jaw about hit the floor!!!! Gobsmacked I was!!! We finally found her...right in front on the table by the door...
So Randy... I painted you an official WINNER this time.... BEST IN SHOW!!! :)

The Highs, the Low's and the Sweetness of Success

   When I talk about the highs and lows of art...they are very real. If you're not a working artist, you probably won't 'get it' unless you work a minimum wage job and three important bills just rolled in.  You know there's not enough money in your checking account to cover them all and you're still paying for that last awards trip you went on.... Depression starts to sink success really worth it? And what IS success anyways? Maybe I should get a 'real' job again and be miserable like everyone else. Then you tell yourself, you know your good enough at what you do and you're passionate about it, just keep working harder...
So you juggle the bills and you work, you work a lot...and you take a few more chances and just when you think you have get recognized again!
Success is always a shock to me because I never quite feel good anything. That's just me. Low self esteem and high expectations are rarely a combination for being chipper all the time....but keeps me plodding onward and upwards.

Last week, I gave a talk at our local art museum and made a few new art friends. 
I remember standing at the podium telling the audience why I create. I compared my style of painting to climbing a mountain in that when your at the base, you can just easily plod through but once you get closer to the top, each step becomes more precise and calculated. I also mentioned that I always feel like I could do better work, I'm never quite satisfied. The feeling is like climbing a ladder that never ends, I keep wanting to get to the next rung.
I talked with confidence and passion because painting is what I know best...well besides medicine (it's nurse thing, once one, always one)...but this paint thing, is what gets me the MOST excited!!!
There was a wonderful lady in the audience who chimed that she owns one of my paintings. I remember that I took a pause and excitedly asked if she loved the painting? She exclaimed that they enjoy it so much and look at it everyday...even thinking about that comment chokes me up almost as much as it did when she said it. Those comments really do a heart good!  I can easily handle the subtle (and not so subtle) insults and slights I get from other artists (and I do get them, only two this week)  however it's the kind remarks of people who LOVE and enjoy your work that matter the the end THAT is the sweetness of success and it tastes really good at this moment...

Enjoy your Saturday! :)


Sunday, March 22, 2015

...How To Be a Successful Failure and a Really Cool Loser All At The Same Time...

Become a fine artist!!! 

Yes friends, you too can learn how to gain respect, notoriety, lots of friends all the while earning next to nothing!!!
All kidding and joking aside, it's been a challenging couple months of stress and anxiety over where am I going to find the money for this and that.....
It's been difficult trying to fight off the depression while trying to stoke my creative drive. 
My solution, hole myself up in the studio for that short dose of dopamine bliss interspersed with moments of leaky eyes and thoughts of 'why do I even try?'....

So today I am telling myself to take a huge dose of ------------------------------->
buck up and quit yer crying you big friggin baby!!!!
Crying and complaining doesn't earn praise or create progress!!
Nobody wants to hear your whining and woe is me carrying on!!
So how's my self deprecating pep talk going so far? Good, good! I'm feeling better already!

Here is what I love about people who try to cheer you up....most honestly have no experience for empathy so honestly, trying to 'discuss' things with folks who don't understand, only makes you feel even time to BUCK UP!!! And now I'm done....I feel better... I really do!  No honestly, I do because I know some artistic,  self deprecating sap might possibly read this and say YES!!!!! So there you go...I too feel what you let's paint!

...Art News...

Elkhart's Midwest Museum of American Art (photo accredited to their website)
I received an email on Friday from Brian Byrn, the museum's curator, inviting me to be one of the guest speakers at one of their signature 'Noon Time Talks',  held each Thursday afternoon over the lunch hour. It's open to the public and museum members alike. Looks like it will be sometime in the month of June.
I've been invited to speak on the art of the 'still life'. I am excited to do this! I have some non traditional methods that I think some folks will find enjoyable and educational , at least I hope so anyways.
I have a couple months to prepare something so I promise it will be worth your time to attend and participate. I will also bring some new work and a few works in progress so as to show/explain my techniques. I'll chat about how I start a project, from conception to birth, so to speak.

...In the Studio...

   Well, have been working on quite a few things lately. I have a series of smaller works that I have been doing to try and create some affordable works geared  towards average folks like me who don't have a gazillion dollars to spend on art. 
I am calling it the 'IGBTP Series'...that's an acronym(which means another term for) for 'I Got's Bill's To Pay'. It's a tongue in cheek way of saying, yea, I still have to pay for the water bill, phone bill, gas for my car, deodorant, soap, etc....and I have to sell art to do it! ;)'s good work for a fair price....because after all, when I am famous, cold and dead...some unsuspecting person is going to make BANK!!! I'm just sayin!!!
So here are the small painting's I created for the IGBTP Series (and I have sold a couple so you better snatch them up while you can).

All of the paintings shown above are all 3" x 3" except for the last one, 'The Boats en Miniature', it is 7.5" x 5". Out of this group, 'My Rose', 'Tea Time' and 'Sushi Anyone?' have all been sold. The rest are available on my Etsy page.

...Works In Progress...

I actually have a few things near completion and one that are in full mid-progress mode at the moment. I feel like I am creating some of my best work at the moment. I have some great ideas in my head for some upcoming still life's I'll be putting together. Anyways enough is what I have going.... 

This is what I am currently in the middle of right now. It's pretty good sized too.   I actually have it quite a bit further along that what is shown here but I didn't see the point in boring anyone with more unfinished photos. Right now I have pretty well defined and shaped all the grains of rice, knocked them back with tonal grays, started bringing forward some highlights, amping up some colors and knocking others back.
I am also almost done with 'MOoo' here. I still have more work to do on the leaves in the background. I have started softening the lower branches and the treeline in the far back. Need to add a bit of soft opaque color to heighten the illusion of atmospheric distance. The cow is pretty much done save for a few small tweaks here and there. I might heighten the value in her eye to give it a a more wet, reflective quality.
I finally finished 'Smartie Smartie'. I have already given it a coat of intermediate varnish and have been letting it dry enough to give a final coat. This photo was taken pre-varnish so the colors are a bit sunken and flat. Let me tell you, this thing POPPED with vibrancy right when I applied the retouch varnish! WOW does it look good! I did take a photo but I had to take it at such an angle to reduce the glare. It was still hard to get it to accurately portray the depth. So once it's dry enough to take a better photo, I'll post it up.  I am actually VERY proud and happy with this painting. My husband hates it but his opinion really doesn't count anymore IMO... ;)  (I've stopped showing him what I'm working on so as not to get depressed)

...Cool Stuff Not Art Related...

Oh yea baby!!!! Garden 2015 has begun!!!! I even dug the snow off the garden 2 weekends ago and put up my cold frame!! I already have kale, spinach and tomatoes sprouted...soon it will be time to transplant the kales and the spinach into the cold frame so that I get a great harvest this year.
This year's tomatoes are 'BlackSea Man', a Russian heirloom variety(medium large beefsteak type) that is purplish-green when fully ripe. These are the BEST tasting tomatoes I have ever eaten in my life...swear to GERD!!! This will make the third year in a row that I have grown them. I also planted a new heirloom paste tomato. This is the first year I have grown the 'Sheboygan' variety, which also happens to be a Russian strain. I'm looking forward to seeing how this one does. I kind of like the Russian strains because they tend to be more cold tolerant. Our last two summers have been craptasticly cooler so that's why I'm leaning towards those strains.
As far as what hot peppers I am growing, or trying to grow, this year: Mucho Nacho jalapenos(hybrid), Trindad Scorpian peppers, Bhut Jalokia(Ghost) peppers and Medusa (ornamental/edible hybrid). (I decided not to grow a schitload of peppers this years for a change)
I also have a bunch of other stuff like squashes, greens, beans, cukes, rhubarb...but those don't count as much as the tomatoes and peppers do!!!

Oh and this epic tidbit!!! FINALLY going to go see Primus in concert after all these years of being a devoted fan!!!! Can't wait to see Les Claypool and the rest of the freaks at the State Theater in Kazoo on April 11th for the 'Primus and The Chocolate Factory Tour'!!!!!! Going with my brother Tim and my nephew Bill....should be a GREAT time!!!! :D

OK, so yea....I'm about tired of writing now! My work this weekend updating the blog and completely rebuilding my website is now done, thank GOODNESS!!
I think I want to drink a beer now, turn on a movie and relax....been a busy weekend filled with computer work.... 
Now I need to chill and gear up for how much fun painting that sushi is going to be tomorrow because THAT will be the most favorite part of my day tomorrow...good coffee, good music, no distractions and paint, glorious paint!!! :)

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading...


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

I'm Settling In and Buckling Down...

   Many of my friends know that this past five months have been very emotionally taxing on my family. Our matriarch, my Mother, was diagnosed with cancer.
There are things that just come completely out of no where and hit you full-on on like a truck. This was one of those things... It was due to this that I let my painting take a back seat and I have not been as creative in the last several months.
Christmas 2015: Me, Mom and my brother photo-bombing.
    It's been very stressful on everyone in our family. The world was turned upside down for a while...but now things are getting back to a new normal.
It's been a huge time of adjustment, introspection and discovering what matters the most.
Since I'm a nurse by trade, I have been trying to be her advocate and have accompanied her to all doctors visits, tests, etc... My folks don't have the best understanding of body process's, general health and physiology so I have been trying to be the bridge. That has been quite stressful. The biggest stressor, for all of us, was just not having any control.
So, we all had to learn to accept what was going on and do what the good doctors planned. She has THE BEST doctor taking care of her! We are all so very pleased with Dr. Method!

Mom's recovery has not been 'uneventful', to say the least, HOWEVER I'm happy to admit that she is doing quite well in treatment and her health is improving!!!!
She has lost most of her hair and what's left is pure white so now she looks like a fuzzy little pinky mouse now! She is taking it in stride and has a great sense of humor about the whole thing! She is WINNING!!!!! We are all so, very, very proud of her and we love her so much!
I have been crocheting chemo caps for her. It's kind of been fun and a nice way to keep me occupied in the evenings. She really likes the ones I have made.
All the prayers and support of friends has been very helpful and she appreciates it more than anyone knows.

...MOOooving Along...

Since Mom's health has improved and she now knows what to expect with her treatment, I have resumed painting and being creative. Life has begun to get back to normal...thankfully! I feel like I can breathe again and it feels great!
So in the last few weeks I have started a couple fun paintings. 
I am painting a collection of whimsical, fun paintings to sell basically at fairly inexpensive prices. I am calling these paintings my 'IGBTP Series'. That's an acronym for 'I Got's Bills To Pay'. :)
Seriously....if I don't paint, I don't have money and if I don't earn money, I can't pay my bills and I got's bill's to pay! :)

 This is one little gem I just recently sold. It's one of my miniature paintings. This is 3"x3" oil on canvas wrapped board. It is HIGHLY detailed!
I purchased a stock open back frame. 
I constructed a wood liner and finished it in a complimentary creamy color.
The back mounting board was also cut and hand finished in a complimentary color and pattern. I painted an antique gold filigree pattern over the chocolate brown background. It matches the frame detail extremely well. I thought it added an overall nice bit of class and whimsy to the piece.
The antiqued bronze label holder also added a nice touch. The back was then painted antique gold and affixed with my authenticity certificate.

Here is another I just recently started I am calling this one 'MOooo'.  This one is so FUN!!!
I absolutely LOVE cows!!! This happy and curious gal was one I had photographed last summer on our local bike trail. I went up and visited her while I snapped a few pics. 
She is now being painted. Here is where I am at so far.
 Yesterday I started doing the detail glazing to amp up the color and overall tighten things up. I always work loose to tight and flat to bright.

I just love how this is coming together. After I am done writing up this blog installment, I might head down to the studio to paint for the day. ...but it depends on what time it is since I generally leave the studio by 2:00- 2:30pm. I try and leave when my neighbors come home.

 This is one I had started working on last fall 'Smartie Smartie'.  11"x14" acrylic/oil on canvas/wood panel. I started it sometime before Mom was diagnosed and I put it on hold for a while until she improved.
I finally finished it at the end of January 2015. This took a great deal of time to complete. It is quite dynamic and detailed.
This painting is NOT in my IGBTP series as it is waaaaay too detailed.
This painting will be a juried show/gallery painting. I have recently given it the first coat of intermediate varnish and I must say, it just POPPED with intensity and color! I am very, VERY proud of this one!!!

Now this little painting is one I started a couple weeks ago. I drew this on the same day I sketched up MOoooo.  Went to meet my friend Cindy over at the Painters Guild and I didn't have anything to paint so I decided just to start drawing up a few new ones. So that's what I did the day I was at the Guild. I used a grid method. Nothing is square or exact and it honestly doesn't have to be because it's a painting. :)

This is fairly small but not micro small like the 'Tea for One' painting.
This is 'The Boat's en Miniature'.  It is 7.5"x 5", oil on canvas and wood panel.
I do make almost all my own panels and I have taken a liking to affixing canvas to wood boards I cut. Then I gesso and sand. It's a fun process that I actually get quite a bit of satisfaction out of.
I save all my wood panel scraps and I make smaller boards like this.
I did paint a larger version(18" x 24", I think) of this particular painting a few years back. It resides in a lake cottage somewhere near Howe, IN.
So I decided to paint a mini version for the IGBTP Series. I finished this yesterday. For something small and quick, I think it turned out rather nice.
I will be offering this one up for sale very soon at a very affordable price! Thats the whole point of the IGBTP Series, it's original art most people can afford. The way I achieve this is by working smaller and quickly like with this painting. I am price pointing all paintings to be $150.00 or less. I set the price by taking into account level of detail, whether it's framed, unframed. This one will be sold unframed for $125.00. If anyone is interested,
message me.

Oh....have also decide that I am going to place 'A Mighty Cock' up for sale as well and I will offer it at a bargain price of $200.00 plus shipping. Size is 11"x 14" oil on wood panel.
Reason I am selling it at this price is because I lost my love affair with the subject matter about 3/4 of the way through. I will not enter this in any shows so I've decided to just move it.                                                                                                                    
'A Mighty Cock', 11"x 14", oil on wood panel, 2014.

Everyone who has seen it
just LOVES it but to's just 'OK'.
  However that doesn't mean I will sell it at Walmart pricing. The price remains at $200.00 (plus shipping) FIRM.
If anyone is interested in owning this, send me a message and let me know.





...Entering Shows and keeping a low profile...

      I have decided to really buckle down, paint as much as possible and start entering more shows. I have a goal of getting a couple more national shows under my belt and on my resume. Once I complete that, I will start seeking gallery representation.
I finally sat down a few months back and wrote my first artists resume. I needed one for the last juried show. I was honestly quite surprised how well padded my artists resume had become.  I guess I hadn't realized how long I've been at this! 

   As part of my new schedule, I've decided to curtail my activities on social media and maintain a low profile. I'll still have a presence, I just won't be on it nearly as much. 
I do have a lot of friends and I found myself spending WAY too much time seeing what everyone is up and wasting time.  
I was also allowing myself to get annoyed at the bold audacity of some people who become keyboard commandos once you put a keyboard in front of them. 
I was so upset by something one of my 'friends' posted about racism the other day that I had an awakening. If seeing the flippant words of a hypocrite on a computer screen can annoy me so much, then I need to change my focus and take a step back. I just need to change my reaction, eliminate some people from my life and walk away. So that's what I am doing. 
I will focus my time on creating art, working towards my goals, marketing my art, spending quality time with my family and earning a living.
 The ignorance of others really has no place of value in my life so I'm going to focus my time more on whats important and less on what doesn't matter...

With that....I think it's time to go work out, get some laundry started, and do some work around the house.
I hope you all have a great day! :)



Saturday, December 27, 2014

New York, New York!!!

Life goal painting awarded in NYC

Accepting the Katherine A. Lovell Award at the National Arts Club in NYC, 12-19-2014.

   So I have finally been able to achieve another life goal! I showed one of my paintings in New York, New York and I also won an award for it! I was stunned to even get accepted into the show and was beyond thrilled to win something!!

   Back in early September, an artist friend of mine, Anne Kullaf, encouraged me to enter the CLWAC (Catherine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club) 118th Annual Juried Art Show in NYC. I mulled it over and thought what the heck, it would not be the first time I blew $50.00 on something but it's a chance.
I submitted what I felt was one of my strongest paintings.  For me, it had the most soul and was most representative of my personality. I entered my small painting (9"x11"), 'Sweet Slice'.

The subject of this painting, I felt,  represented me for a few reasons: it symbolizes tradition, reverence, family, my respect of all things vintage as well as my love affair with my kitchen.
My Grandmother Hall was such a wonderful cook and baker. She taught me how to do things at an early age and it was fun. I loved helping her make noodle dough and bake sweet rolls, pie, cookies, make grape juice, garden.... I still make a few things just like she did all those years ago. The one thing I make just like her is her very simple apple pie. It was nothing fancy but it was pure in flavor and delicious, no frills. I am much like that, no frills and for lack of a better word, pretty 'basic'.
The vintage Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook was my Grandmother Brouse's cookbook. The pastry cook book is mine (pastry, pie specifically, is my specialty). The blue crock bowl is one of many antique crockery bowl's I collect as is the plate and art deco silverware. That fork is literally my very favorite for to use in the silverware drawer. The slice of apple pie represents my Grandmother Hall and the traditions she taught me.
So in essence this painting is very special to me, it represents me...

I never thought I would even get accepted for the show. Part of my nature is that I never feel like I am ever quite good enough to be recognized for anything so imagine my surprise when I recieved the notification that I actually won an award!!!
For me, just getting in the show was my award and I still feel that way.

'Sweet Slice', 9"x11", acrylic and oil on board,  2014.

 My two good friends were with me for the dinner.
L to R: Rhonda Nelson, me, Tom Nguyen.
That was pretty special for me!
I think they both felt a bit out of their element but it was pretty cool!

Short video of me accepting the award
My Mother was supposed to attend the show with me but due to some recent health issues, she was not able to go on the trip.
In her place I took my best friend Rhonda Nelson. My good friend Tom Nguyen met us out there just to support me at the show and to celebrate my birthday.

Tom videoed the award acceptance so that Mom could see it. I showed this to her yesterday and she was so happy and so very proud! Thats one thing I really strive for in life is to make my parents proud....mission accomplished! :)



...getting older...

So I hit a milestone birthday (I turned 50) the day we arrived in NYC. The plan was to celebrate it by going out for sushi. Tom and I had always said if we ever met in person (we've known each other for years via art forums, email, Skype, but never in person) we would eat sushi so that was decided a few years in advance.  Within moments of arriving, we all met up, and hit the street in search of sushi. It was not hard to find, there was a little local place right across the street from our hotel that was fantastic and inexpensive! I was amazed! It was all so good!! I've been craving sushi ever since!

 This was the little local place across from our hotel. It was kind of a dive looking place but the food was amazing and the Asian 007 (for real, there was a dude wearing a shirt that said 'Asian 007' on the back, LOL) knocked it out of the park with the killer sushi!!

This was some part of what they called their 'eat in Special' menu. a $7.00 sashimi assortment.... well HELL YEA!!!
Not sure what it all was but I am guessing it was tuna, salmon, shrimp and scallops. 2 pieces each. It was delicious!!!
the bowl of  steamed edemame was like $3.00 yet another score!!
  This was something Tom ordered, I think this was the Dragon Roll. It had some tempura crab(I think), avocado, and green onion topped with a spicy sriracha and another sauce. It was amazing!!! So good!!

I wish I had taken a picture of the Dynamite Roll I ordered. It was impressive to look at. It was spicy and topped with some interesting tiny green fish roe. When you bit into the roe, it popped in your mouth and released a mild sweet tasting liquid, not really salty at all. It was interesting and surprising. I will need to find some and try and replicate that sushi at home.
Meeting Tom for first time.

Friends..... It was pretty special to finally meet and spend some fun time together acting like idiots.
You never know whom you will meet in life and my good friends are very special to me. 
I am so touched that Tom came out to NYC for this. The 3 of us had a blast together! :)
Looking forward to going back to NYC again in the future!

Empire State building, 86th floor. 12-19-2014
 Views from the 86th floor of the
Empire State  at dusk.
We were unaware that it would take 2 friggin hours to get to the top! We thought, buy the ticket, get on the elevator and done!
Nope...people, turnstiles, more people, more turnstiles, some sill Imax thing....but we made it, we got there and managed to take some incredible photos and cross one things off our 

bucket list of things to do in this lifetime...visit Empire State Building!!! it was just spectacular!!! The lights of the city at night were amazing and the sheer size was astounding....memory of a lifetime right there. :)

Empire State building, 86th floor. 12-19-2014. things in the works...

I have not actually had a lot of time to paint recently due to my Mothers health issues so have put some things on hold for a while. My family is much more important to me...
I've still found a bit of time to paint here and there. Some things will be easing up soon and I'll have a bit more time to relax and paint again so it's all good.
Here is something I am currently nearly finished with, I call this 'Smartie Smartie'.
It's 11"x14", acrylic and oil on birch panel. All that I have left to do now is heat up the highlights and add some subtle value here and there...pretty much done.

Some of the colors have sunken but that will be remedied once I oil it out a bit. I have gotten quite a bit further on this since this photo was taken but you get the general idea.
I'm having fun with this painting! I am really excited about creating some quirky narrative work for a change. This is a good fit for me. I think I have finally come into my own techniques and style and I am enjoying that immensely! :)

Well that's about all I have for now....hope you have enjoyed reading my rambles...
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I wish you all good health and much happiness for 2015!


Monday, September 22, 2014

Hello cold air....ARTBERNATION BEGINS!!! YES!!!

Photo I took a couple years back during one of our fall drives in the area.

Man I love the when fall rolls around!!! I know... I know... y'all think I am crazy and most everyone who knows me personally, WILL agree with that assessment!!!

Why do I love fall? Well it's mainly because I can wear Levi's and sweatshirts again and luxuriate in the ultimate cozy comfort they bring but also it's because I love all the intense pretty colors the trees and plants show which brings me, full circle, right back to art!!

Fall means I am able to spend more time at the studio, which is where I am going right after I post this so it will be short and sweet.

Fall is the beginning of the art hibernation, or if you will, the Artbernation!
This is the time I cloister myself away in the studio for much of the day, ignoring the foul weather outside and sipping glorious rich coffee and painting all day long....or at least until the faint smell of my neighbors cigarette smoke starts to faintly tinge the air and I hightail it out the door before the full blown migraine begins(it doesn't take much to set me off unfortunately). (My plan is to move the studio back home in the spring, into a renovated barn out behind my house so that I don't have to deal with that anymore and save some money)

So to be able to maximize my time at the studio before my neighbor gets home, I am going to keep this is what I have been up to since July's last blog post: painting, gardening, painting, more gardening , canning, canning, hot sauce making, painting and more painting!

On the painting front, I feel am doing my very BEST work right now! I fully believe that soon there will be a turning point for me...not sure what that will be but I am hoping that more success will burgeon soon. I 'feel' it and I believe in it.... I just have to keep painting and growing my art in order to fully realize it.
I have recently entered two juried shows, one local and one national.
The national show(NYC) is a first for me. I am nervous and excited about it. Of course, I HOPE I get accepted but understand that I may be declined....par for the course but I will persevere and keep plodding onward. My fingers are crossed though! I should know something in a couple weeks. If I get in (BIG IF) and IF I place, I will somehow, someway get my butt to New York City for the awards reception. :)

My latest painting that I am working on, REALLY excites me!!!  Here is what it looks like almost done(have just  few tweaks left to do) and pre-varnish....the varnish will make it EXPLODE with color so that will be very exciting!!!
'Reflections of Summer', acrylic and oil on board (work in progress)

I am so close to being finished with this. I have a more recent image on my camera but since it's so close, at this point, I will just wait to show it until I am completely done.

I am really enjoying this food series and think I will keep going with it. It gives me joy!
I think I may have found my niche painting just excites me and everything that I paint, has a story behind it so there is that as well.

The story of this one: The apex of summer culminates in late July, early August when the tomatoes in my garden ripen. The first toasted tomato sandwich of the summer is like a national holiday for me! :) I eat them as often as I can!!
I love, love, LOVE to grow heirloom tomatoes and this particular tomato, as painted here, is the best I have ever grown! This variety is called Black Sea Man and it hails from Russia originally, or so the story is. I have been an organic gardener since I was a child. It's something ingrained in me...I love to grow things and can't wait for the new seed catalog's to come out every year.
I also love everything old and things that running joke is that I am part magpie, in that I am attracted to shiny objects!
I feel like I am keeping the past alive by using vintage or antique things gives them life, hence to 1950's Toastmaster Toaster in the painting. Yes, it works perfectly!  It sits in my kitchen as does the stand mixer (bowl reflection to the right). The salt shaker is vintage diner ware (my favorite salt shaker) and just goes hand in hand with fresh tomatoes in summer.
So, in part, 'Reflection's of Summer' is also reflections of the past and we can see the past over and over again if we just close our eyes... it lives always.....

A couple things I have up on the sale block right now are these items

I have this one on both Etsy and Ebay
'Sunbathing', miniature oil, 3"x3" oil on board created 2014.

I also have this painting listed up on Etsy and may list it to Ebay as well to try and move it. It's time to clean the studio to make room for more things.

'Garden Guardian', acrylic on board, 12"x16".

Alright....I think I have dawdled enough's time to go Artbernate and lay down some paint! :)
I hope everyone who reads this has a wonderful day!