Paintings and Garden Updates

Monday, June 1, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

Like everyone else, this week I have been struggling with the state of our nation, racism, and the horrific death of George Floyd. When I watched the video, I was instantly reminded of the video of the beheading of Nick Berg. I felt physically sick. The only thing to break the COVID-19 news cycle since March, and instead of being the uplifting SpaceX manned dragon capsule launch it was the horror of another police brutality event.

I tried to get some painting done this weekend. In fact, I finished these two small studies, referenced from old Sunset Magazine photos. I’m not thrilled with either one. I will count them both as more practice, as certainly my thoughts are that I will improve with lots of practice over this year. Maybe painting is the only good thing that will come from 2020? I find such a peace in it. And I really do love working with gouache.

In other news, this year we are putting in a new garden around the vegetable garden. It’s a monarch way station. Here are the first two sides papered off. So far I have them both planted and mulched. I am waiting for my edging to come in so hopefully I can get that done this next weekend, then paper off the third side and see about planting that as well.

Ah, June at last. The weekend was exceptionally cold, dipping to 43 this morning. But it is supposed to warm up now. This morning the sky is bright blue. The lilac outside the shelter is blooming. I’ve been biking some here and there and hope the weather will allow for more now that it is June. I’m still having great difficulty concentrating on reading, so I’m not sure I will have an official summer reads program but will update with the books I am reading. Is anyone even out there any more?

Ocqueoc Painting & Bird Updates

Tuesday, May 26, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

I continue on with my gouache odyssey with this latest painting. The reference image is a photo I took of the field from my Grandparents’ place back to the woods, taken when Mom and Kirsten and I were last up north. I am pleased with how it turned out. I wish I had more time to paint.

I have also been spending some time with bird photography. Above is the female oriole, and below is a cheeky robin. We had our first hummingbird on May 21, quite late this year. Next update should be the garden expansion. We are putting in a monarch butterfly way station.

The Westerner Hotel

Monday, May 18, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

The WESTERNER HOTEL
161 Colorado Place (U.S. 66) Arcadia, California
Phone: Douglas 7-3501
Luxurious Rooms and Suites. Beautiful filtered and heated swimming pool. Family Santa Anita Race Track across the street.
1/4 mile to Golf Courses
3 miles East of Pasadena
15 miles East of Los Angeles

This place no longer stands, unfortunately. Carol Libby and Karen Hou have a post on it here along with some earlier linen cards from the old place.

New Paintings & Misc. Updates

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

The weather has been odd this May. The past few days have been incredibly cold, 20 degrees below average with freeze warnings. I have yet to plant anything at all. They are predicting a week from now it will be 84 degrees. So much for spring, right? In happier news, the orioles have returned. We have at least two couples and the males seem a bit territorial. The hummingbird feeder has been up the same amount of time, but no hummingbirds spotted yet. Everything is still shut down until the end of the month due to COVID-19.

This latest painting is a very small study in casein. A friend on Instagram had posted the photo of her cat and suggested it was worthy of a painting. It seemed to me to be a good opportunity to try out a new medium.

I painted this gouache from a photo I took last year of our garden for Mom for Mother’s Day.

National Postcard Week 2020

Monday, May 4, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

It’s National Postcard Week 2020, and once again I designed and will be sending cards. The smallest package I could order was 50, and once I added up all my addresses that turns out to be the perfect amount.

This year’s theme is Maxy and quarantine. This has been an interesting year for sure. We are now required to wear masks when we go out in public. The shelter has been shut down since March 17th.

I believe this motel could be the one Mom, Dad and I stayed in when I was young and we went to Niagara Falls, Canada for the first time. I only remember it had something to do with lucky or clover.

Clover Leaf Motel
Highway 20 & 3A at Queen E. Way
3514 Lundy’s Lane
Niagara Falls, Canada
43 completely modern and air-conditioned units. T.V. in every room. Wall-to-wall carpeting. Private tiled showers and tubs. Family units, swimming pool. 3 miles to the Falls. Telephone (416) 354-1849.

Spring Birds

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

The spring birds are here, doing their thing. Above is a yellow-rumped warbler at the suet feeder in our backyard. I’ve not seen one of these before.

The bluebirds are already nesting at the shelter, with eggs in the nestbox.

So are the tree swallows. They are really pretty birds, and they are lovely in their flight patterns. They’re not shy of dive-bombing you if you get too close to the box, though.

Temperatures have been consistently colder than normal last week and this week, and predicted into next week as well. Today’s high should be 62, and we will top out around 42 instead. It looks like we will be tracking closer to normal the beginning of May. Things are still in lockdown for COVID-19, but we’re unsure when that will end. There is pressure on Governor Whitmer to open things back up here in Michigan. Not sure what will happen with the greenhouses at this point. Everything feels rather up in the air.

Latest Paintings and Misc. Updates

Monday, April 13, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

Apparently there’s an entirely new version of WordPress, with blocks, and I will need to get used to it. Fine. At least the website is back up, after having some issues on the transition from Lunarpages to Host Papa or whatever it is now. The techs were great though. I’ve continued painting. The above acrylic is from a photo I took several years ago when Kirsten, Mom and I went up to Mackinaw City. I’m fairly pleased with the way it turned out.

This above squirrel image is a study in gouache, from a photo I took last year in Boston. I’m still doing every other painting in acrylic and gouache. Last night I sketched the next gouache study, from a photo I took many years ago in North Carolina. My only regret in my painting is not having the energy/time to paint. If there’s the time, I seldom have the energy.

March and April 2020 will be remembered for COVID-19. Facemasks, scary grocery shopping trips where there aren’t enough goods like dried beans, yeast, canned goods and toilet paper. Not making eye contact with anyone as they are seen as disease carriers. “Social Distancing” and staying a minimum of 6 feet apart. Non-essential services shut down. The shelter closed to the public on March 17 and we laid off front desk staff members on March 24. All meetings are conducted via Zoom. My schedule is close to normal, and the kennel techs are working normal schedules. I FaceTime with Mom each night and Bob talks to his Dad on the phone. We had to cancel our spring Martini event for work and greenhouses are shut down. As of yesterday, there were 71 cases of coronavirus in Calhoun County, 23,993 cases in Michigan and 1,392 deaths in Michigan. 558,999 total US cases and 22,154 US deaths. Worldwise, there have been 1,872,073 cases and 116,098 deaths. Who knows when things will go back to ‘normal’ or what normal will even look like.

Painting Update

Tuesday, March 3, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

I am continuing along with my painting, and really enjoying it. Above is a piece I repainted over like three times. Still only happy with some of it; the boats, reflections in the water and pier poles turned out as I had hoped. The buildings, not so much. It is another opportunity to determine what I enjoy painting and what I probably won’t do again (buildings).

I follow a lot of artists on social media, and became interested in gouache. I decided to try a few little fast pieces with gouache. Here is the first.

It is really different to work with than acrylic, but I enjoyed the process and think I may do a gouache in between each acrylic study.

Here is my last work, a still life.

Making some kind of progress, I guess. Again, I really enjoy painting and probably so far prefer acrylic. I think I will do another gouache next, but with a very busy week in store I’m not sure when I will have time. Soon, I hope. I find I am having to train myself to really look at things, especially shadows. If I do what I normally do and just get a quick look and move on, I miss all kinds of subtlety just by thinking I know it already. That’s a good metaphor for all of life’s interactions, I think.

In weather news, the past few days have been a bit warmer and we’ve had some snow melt. Mom has seen robins, but I haven’t yet. My Christmas cactus is blooming for the second time in just a few months. We’ve done some projects at Mom’s house, including painting the bathroom in preparation for new tile and replacing the light in the eating area. Today is Maxy’s 17th birthday.

Acrylic Painting – one through four

Monday, February 17, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

My only real resolution for 2020 was to take up acrylic painting. I can’t draw. I’ve never tried to paint. But I wondered if it might be a good creative outlet and opportunity for relaxation. And, it turns out, that is indeed the case. Time just floats away while I’m painting. All of my obsessive thoughts are gone from my head. So far it’s all crap, but I hope over the course of the year to show improvement. If not, at least I am enjoying every minute of it.

I’ve “completed” four paintings and am working on my fifth. When I say completed, I mean I can still see lots of areas that need improvement and repainting and I could go over and over and over again and still not have it right. So there becomes a point where I’m ready to start a new painting, and that’s it. You could say these first four are not finished, but they are completed.

Sunrise from the parking lot of the shelter:

It’s my first painting, and I had some learning on how to blend color appropriately. It looks better from a distance, but I think it does a pretty good job of approximating the scene depicted in the reference photo. And I like the leaves on the trees.

Tree in a field…not sure where I took the reference photo on this one:

On this painting I learned that grass is really hard to paint. I can’t tell you how many times I pulled this back out and worked on it after I said it was done. Grass is hard. I really enjoyed painting the sky though and think that looks good. The tree could use a little work.

Barn on my regular drive in the country:

I need to take a class in perspective. My mom sat down and helped me, but I’m still having trouble. The front of the barn is still too wide for what it should be. I think the trees are better than in the last photo, and I like the stone base and the little fence.

Twin Peaks inspired coffee and pie:

I started out wrong on this one with the placement of the cup compared to the napkin and plate. They should be closer together. The shading isn’t bad I think. Some of the lines are kind of wonky, and I wouldn’t hang it up on a wall, but it was an interesting study.

Misc. Updates

In 2020, I decided that I would take up painting with acrylics. Thought it could work a different part of my brain. I have started my first painting, which is based on a photograph I took of a sunrise at the shelter. It’s not quite done yet, but it is coming closer.

If you know you will be sending international mail over the next year (say, you write holiday greeting cards on behalf of the homeless cats in the Humane Society shelter, and those cats have an international following), you’ll want to note that some postal rates including international stamps go up in price on January 26. First class forever stamps are unaffected. It’s only 5 cents a stamp, and I’m happy to support USPS. February is International Correspondence Writing Month – InCoWriMo. So hopefully friends and family will receive some snail mail. I’m not committing to a letter every day, but hopefully those with whom I regularly send letters will receive one during the month.

So far, we’ve had a little bit of snow in November, December, and January but lots of more reasonable temperatures in between. I know a lot of people don’t like the freeze/thaw cycle, but I find it nice to have snow and cold and then have it all go away. I can’t personally do much to change the weather anyhow, so I might as well enjoy it when I can. I am not quite counting down the days until spring, but I am looking forward to the day the sun rises before 8:00am.