January Review

Wednesday, February 2, 2022 0 No tags Permalink

As January reaches an end and we look into a February starting with a huge predicted snow storm, it is hard to feel that spring will ever come. I look back through google photos and instagram to see previous February to see signs of spring. There’s not much there. However, we do have Twin Peaks Day, so we have that going for us. Wednesday marks the halfway point between winter and spring.

I’ve continued on with some ATCs. They are a nice break from the Cornell illustration class, which is quite challenging. I just finished an Our Lady of Guadalupe, which didn’t turn out so great, and I am working on a Saint Gertrude, the patron saint of cats. How does one get the eyes of a saint so they don’t look like they are possessed? Or like they are watching the water in a toilet bowl rise to where it might spill all over from a blockage of giant proportions? Saint Gertrude is the patron saint of cats, and her day is also Saint Patrick’s Day. Cats or snakes? It’s easy to choose.

February might bring the return of the robins. That is a fairly normal occurrence. I expect the month may pass quickly, as they often seem to do the older I get. It’s also InCoWriMo, and hopefully I will get a good deal of letters out. As always, I’ll have Valentine’s Day gifts for the staff members, and will send little items out for Twin Peaks Day. Hope your month is off to a great start!

Artist Trading Cards

Thursday, January 20, 2022 0 No tags Permalink

While I am taking an online class from Cornell on botanic illustration, I’ve also stumbled across Artist Trading Cards, or ATCs. They are 2.5 x 3.5 and can be mixed media, painted, drawn, or whatever you like. There are groups where people trade them. You post yours, and others ask to trade, and then you exchange them through the mail. You collect them, these tiny pieces of art from all over, and store them like baseball cards or something.

Anyhow, in some spare time (a few minutes every couple days), I’ve been putting some together. Next up I am working on a small series of painted ATCs for Twin Peaks Day February 24th.

I’ve been sleeping terribly. Not falling asleep until after 2:30, and having terrible nightmares when I am sleeping. I’ve had excruciating headaches this week, too. No days with highs above 27 in the ten day forecast. It’s a desperate feeling. I know it’s only January, and we have a long, long way to go until spring.

I’m a bit behind in my letters, but I have nothing to say. Nothing that isn’t complaining about the weather, anyhow.

January 2022 Update

Monday, January 10, 2022 0 No tags Permalink
January 2022 update

I haven’t been able to do several things since October, updating catobear.com being one of them. Today I woke up feeling a little better, more able to think of what I need to do and plan for in coming months. Don’t know if it is just a fluke or an actual change. When I look and realize I’m the only one looking at this, I suppose it doesn’t matter much anyway. I have been pulling together my 2022 bullet journal, photo above. I always like a new journal when it’s compact and clean and full of possibilities.

January 2022 update

I cleaned up my art space, as I am starting a botanic illustration course online through Cornell this Wednesday. I have a real fear that I won’t be able to keep up. I haven’t really painted or done much artistically since October. Perhaps you’re thinking the desk is still a mess, but everything I need is within easy access.

I have managed to keep some YouTube videos going up on my channel. Do check it out if you like postcards, vintage calling cards, old Christmas cards, etc.

Anyhow, that’s where we are. Miles away from spring. Treading water, but no longer going under. At least for now.

Maxy Cat

Wednesday, October 27, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
Maxy Cat

We lost Maxy Cat on Wednesday, October 20, 2021. It is even more devastating than I would have guessed. He touched every bit of of our lives, and it is a silent existence without him. I feel dead inside, like dried autumn leaves.

I put together Halloween bags with candy, pens and stress squishies for the staff members, and a few smaller no-squishy bags for volunteers. It is the one Halloween thing I did this year. I couldn’t manage to sew the skirt. Honestly, I’ll be super-happy to be past November 4th and the Whisker Mixer event for work. If I can just get beyond that, maybe I will be able to start managing the rest of my life. I’m giving myself the grace to do the things I can and make due with the rest. I will send greeting cards for the holidays, but I am not going to be creating my own design this year. I just can’t. We had our first frost this morning. The season is changing.

I haven’t felt like painting or doing much of anything lately. Can’t read. Can’t sew. Can barely crochet, even though I’m meant to be working on a project for a shelter volunteer who needs a special hug blanket. Thank goodness for the mindlessness of TikTok. Between meetings last night, I did get this oil pastel study of a Florida causeway done. The angle on the palm fronds is wrong, but otherwise I’m fairly pleased with it. I’m still learning the medium. I should watch more videos or something. There aren’t a ton of youtube videos on oil pastels for some reason.

Living in Michigan

Ah yes, living in Michigan can be a challenge at times. You may try to stay off the news (politics, man’s inhumanity to man, COVID, etc.) except to catch the headlines. But life itself occasionally throws a blow that you just weren’t expecting.

Maxy-cat is 18.5 years old. He’s been deaf for awhile. He’s on thyroid medication. His vision has been deteriorating. And this weekend, the deterioration is complete. Maxy is blind. We’ve adjusted his living arrangement to the main floor for safety. We are taking him to the litterbox and to his food and water regularly, and he seems to be able to go from there back to his heated bed. We are hoping that over time, he is able to get around the house himself, and will be able to play with catnip toys and have a good quality of life. There are a few feline ophthalmologists in Michigan, but none are taking patients until January at the earliest and they won’t schedule that far out. He spends a good deal of time sleeping, and as long as he is asleep he doesn’t notice his lack of vision or hearing. I hope his little cat dreams are full of outdoor adventures, chasing squirrels and running. It’s taking all of my focus to not dissolve into hysteria, and that focus is giving me the headache of a lifetime for the third day in a row.

This autumn has been a fantastic time for mushrooms everywhere. There are so many different kinds in the woods behind our home and on the Bark Park trails. I’ve taken a few photos to share. Isn’t nature amazing?

These last two are a form of puffball known as the brain puffball, or Calvatia craniiformis. They are giant…take a look at the size of the leaves around them. We have not had a frost yet, and it has been a lovely mild autumn so far. I wish it could stay like this forever.

In other news, Bob attended in person and I attended virtually the SYRCL’s Wild & Scenic Film Festival. It featured 13 short environmental films and was quite enjoyable. I love short films. You can still catch some showings by going to the website, linked above. I’m working on a crochet blanket for a dear friend who needs a hug, and I’m obsessed with tiny notebooks. I’m staying busy with journaling as well. Anything to keep the hysteria from becoming consuming. It won’t be long before I’m starting my next bullet journal for the new year. Hard to believe we are nearing the end of October.

Misc. Monday Moodiness

How’s your week starting out? Although Monday didn’t start out poorly, it quickly got there and proceeded to become more troublesome as the day went on. Yes, it’s Misc. Monday Moodiness today. I am very thankful for the small bits of kindness others shared with me, and I’m especially happy to be home with my family at the end of a long day.

The above painting is a quick watercolor study. Some parts of it are nice, but others didn’t work out quite well. Isn’t that often the way it goes? I’m always thankful to have a little time to paint, though. I’ve been busy with a large (5 foot x 5 foot) crochet blanket out of a bulky yarn to go in my hygge basket for the Whisker Mixer silent auction. The basket also includes a bottle of Bailey’s, a mug, a blank journal (a really nice one, too…I have way, way too many unused journals), fairy lights, bath soak and a lotion bar. I’ve also done a mani-pedi jar, a safety first home improvement basket, a cupcake basket, and a Christmas basket. I just hope they bring in some decent money for the shelter pets. This year’s fundraisers have been a struggle for me on several fronts. Virtual events are a ton more work than live events, with a much lower payout. Anyhow, here’s the blanket:

It’s Bernat blanket yarn, HDC with a giant wooden hook, and it’s really soft. I’ve gone back to crocheting my shawl, and I just finished watching the 1992 movie Candyman. I’m not a horror fan, but I really wanted to see the scenes shot in Cabrini Green. I’m trying to get my holiday shopping done well early this year, so I don’t have to worry about it. I need to get started on the holiday greeting cards.

Happy Visit

Wednesday, September 29, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
happy visit

We had a very happy visit this month, in that Kirsten came for a few days from Portland. Friday we went up to Lansing to clean up the graves. The lavender is still in bloom on the Thorne/Cleary plot in Mt. Hope, and we did some stone scrubbing. There wasn’t much left on the plots in Evergreen, probably because of the lack of rain through most of the summer. We did try the TikTok cleaning tips and got a bit of moss off the stones. We will do more in the spring.

happy visit

After we got back from Lansing, we spent some time with pastels before Bob joined us for dinner. It was fun to just have that quiet time talking and being creative. Mom and Kirsten worked with the oil pastels, while I used the soft pastels. How do you blend with your finger and not rub a hole in it?

happy visit - soft pastels

I used soft pastels for this spring iris image, photo reference from a picture I took in our garden. It was a very happy visit indeed, and I am looking forward to Kirsten returning. Mom is going to continue working on some oil pastel work. I’ve started up a quick water color and gouache, photo reference from a recent cover of Fine Gardening magazine.

It is nearly October. The weather has been lovely, thankfully. I hope it continues all of next month.

Oil Pastels

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
oil pastels seascape

I’ve been spending a little time on oil pastels, and I am so pleased with how the one above turned out. I’m using a Sennelier¬†oil pastel set. They blend beautifully, and there’s something nice about just being able to grab them and get to work on the couch without water and brushes. I did a little quartet of pieces below. I am anxious to do some more painting for sure, especially with the oil pastels. I like the soft pastels, but I haven’t figured out how to blend them without rubbing a hole in my finger tip. There seems to never be enough time to do everything I’d like to do.

oil pastels quartet

Our garden is reaching the end. We have some cherry tomatoes that I’m not sure will ripen. And we’ve had these monstrous cucumbers.

Honestly I don’t even like cucumbers. They are slimy. But I did make three jars of refrigerator pickles and I think they turned out ok. It won’t be long before I start cleaning up the gardens. Some of the asters are still in bloom, but everything else is starting to look kind of dead. The temperatures have been in the 70s during the day and it’s been sunny and lovely out. It seems hard to believe that it’s nearly October already.

One Image, Several Mediums

Monday, September 6, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
one image several mediums - soft pastels

As you saw from the August 16 Watercolor post, I took one reference image and used it to paint in watercolor and fountain pen ink. I decided to continue the trend over a few other mediums, hence One Image, Several Mediums. Above is the attempt in soft pastels. I like the boat and I like the overall softness of the image.

one image several mediums - oil pastel

This next image is in oil pastels. This is my first attempt using them. Here’s a hint if you haven’t tried it before: don’t use watercolor paper. Especially cold press. It is too textured and you can’t get the best blending nor can you get color in all of the low areas of the paper. I’ll have to give oil pastels another try on a different paper for sure.

one image several mediums - gouache

This final image, and the best one I think, is in gouache. I’ve had the most practice with gouache, and I’m probably best at it for that reason. I think it’s still not what I would want it to be, but maybe it’s the reference image. I read once that a photograph might not always make the best reference for painting, but I can’t really figure out what makes a good reference and what does not. I don’t feel like I’ve had great successes with painting in the recent batches, which is a bit frustrating. Still, I’ll continue on.

Beam Watercolor Paints

This final image was a watercolor using a very limited palette of Beam Paints. Gosh, these are gorgeous paints. And the kit, when you receive it, makes you feel like you have purchased a very special gift for yourself. I encourage you to check out the link for the company, even if you aren’t a painter. I think it will spark your own creativity and make you consider how you purchase any art or craft supplies. I’m not pleased with how the image turned out, but that’s my fault and not the paint. I just don’t quite get watercolor yet, you know?

It was a lovely, peaceful holiday weekend. I did wind up finishing my last book, so I’ll have a Summer Reads update coming up soon. The summer went much, much too fast but then again doesn’t it always here in Michigan?

Misc. Blatherings

Wednesday, August 25, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
misc. blatherings postcards

Time for some misc. blatherings. Can you believe we’re nearing the end of August? I did finish a sewing project, an altar cloth, for Mom. It has some decorative stitching on it. Work is a bit stressful now. I’m trying to chill out, but you know how that goes. Most of the time, I wish I was home painting.

I have been doing a little bit of painting. I’m not counting these, above, in my official paintings, so they don’t have numbers. They are small, postcard sized, trying out some new paper and new techniques. Again, I figure it is fair to show the things that aren’t working out so well and not just the good ones. Cousin Marlene sent me a pack of vintage postcards, including this one of cacti. The piece one on the left is in watercolor on watercolor postcard stock. The one on the right was my first attempt with soft pastels on sanded paper. It’s obviously not good. But, I think maybe I like pastels? Last night I started a bigger one, of the boat on the water images I did with watercolor and ink in the previous post. I don’t quite have all of the right colors but I think it’s coming together anyway. I’ll post it when it is done. It seems you need a bigger size piece for pastels, especially the Terry Ludwig variety as they are chunky.

I belong to a large number of facebook art groups. So many in fact, they are taking up all of my feed and with a lot of crap. So I have taken to hiding a lot of the artists from the groups as if it isn’t inspiring or I just don’t like that kind of art, why look at it? And horse paintings? Automatic hide. I would guess horse paintings are the number one subject for people just starting out in art. Why? I don’t care how good it is, when you’re done with it, it’s still a freaking horse.

Such sweetness of a sleeping beast. I had last Thursday and Friday off work to join an online MSU gardening conference and Maxy sure enjoyed having company on the couch. He really misses Bob during the day.

We’re going through another round of 90 degree days, so summer hasn’t quite given up yet. It’s been humid, too. I’ve had two migraines in the past week, and headaches every other day. At least we did get rain last night so the garden was saved from certain death by dehydration.