National Postcard Week 2021

Wednesday, May 5, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
national postcard week 2021

It’s National Postcard Week 2021 and I didn’t get my crap together. I had selected a great vintage card and was going to photoshop Maxy’s head on, but I didn’t get it done in time to have the cards professionally printed. So this year I’ll be sending fewer cards, with an uglier, more personal touch.

national postcard week 2021

I’m not counting these as paintings, because I’m doing them in about 15 minutes each. And they aren’t turning out great. Some of it is I’m trying to paint new things. Some of it is that the postcard paper is really crap. The images are inspired by various card sets…flowers and different tarot cards. Mom and Kirsten did such an amazing job on their tarot cards for the Trail of Terror, I thought some fun small cards would be good inspiration.

national postcard week 2021

I’m going to have to practice the cat cards more if the shelter is going to do a pet portrait thing in June and I volunteer to paint. I mean, the middle one above looks like some kind of demon. Of course, I wouldn’t use postcard paper and probably not acrylic either. It’s easier to fudge gouache and blend it better I think.

Bob was so romantic. He found this vintage postcard of the dining hall at Brook Lodge and sent it to me for National Postcard Week 2021. The card is from the 1960s. We ate dinner here on Memorial Weekend many years ago, and Bob proposed to me by the water surrounded by forget-me-nots.

It has turned cold again. We had a fire last night and will hopefully have a few more over the next few days. I did get the radishes, arugula, carrots and beets planted last weekend. Bob and I planted 30 trees at the shelter over the past two weekends as well. We still have a few weeks before greenhouse day, so hopefully the warmer weather will catch up. Really looking forward to having the martini event behind me.

Painting #40

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 0 No tags Permalink

Painting #40 is a postcard-inspired gouache piece. Forty paintings. Am I getting better? I don’t actually think so, though I continue to learn new things. I’ve hit the wall again on what I want to paint, so it’s been awhile since I’ve done any painting. Work has been stressful and I’m just plain tired, so that isn’t helping the old inspiration either. I also haven’t been playing recorder. I think things will get worse before they get better, with the martini event just over two weeks away. And my god, the nightmares I’ve been having. Though I’m sleeping, it’s not good quality and I wake up more tired than before I went to bed. Something’s got to change. I’m starting to feel a bit desperate again, which is never a good feeling.

sleeping Maxy

Bob and I planted trees at the shelter last Sunday, the ones purchased from the Calhoun Conservation District. We still have more trees to plant. When trees are only $1 a piece, it is quite easy to order a lot of trees and not think about the reality of planting them. Next week is National Postcard Week and I’ve done absolutely nothing to prepare for it. Is it too late? Depends on how much pressure I put on myself I guess. I’ve been biking on the spin bike and outside again as well. I’m going to do whatever I can to stop snoring (any tips or advice?), and exercising an hour a day is my current plan. So far, no good. Maxy is the only one in our household getting good sleep on a regular basis (see photo above). He is 18 and is a treasure.

Crabapple trees are blooming. Geese are walking around with their babies. One day will be 82 degrees (yesterday) and two days later it will be in the low 50s (tomorrow). It has been a month of extreme highs and lows, and it still doesn’t feel like spring is settled in for good. Mom’s deck is done, and it looks great. Aside from the tree planting and the new exercise routine, I’m too tired to work on any projects. Maybe after the martini event?

Painting #39, Crochet and Snow

painting #39

As we approach the end of April, we can enjoy weather and hobbies. Or maybe not? Painting #39, crochet and unfortunately snow this late in April. I don’t have in my notes snow after April 9 since 2007, so this year is a bit unusual. It is also snowing where my friend Beverly is, in Kentucky. My thoughts are with her and her family.

Painting #39

Latest gouache painting #39, Twin Palms Court. Need to work on letter painting for sure. I think the brighter colors up front and more faded in the back is helping to show more depth of focus, as suggested to me on a recent Reddit inquiry. The palm tree on the near left might look more like grass, though the ones in the back are a bit better. The best bit is the pole for the sign I think. I’m working on another pink motel now. Perhaps pink motel is the new theme? I’d like to work on something a bit more abstract, but how does one do that and still get the perspective correct without using a ruler? And once you pull out the ruler, it seems not as abstract. Suggestions?

snow

Snow

It’s cold. How cold? Cold enough to snow yesterday and ice up the car this morning. The sun is out and the temperature is supposed to reach 45 so I would guess the snow will be gone this evening, but it’s still supposed to be cold tomorrow. And maybe 80 degrees by Tuesday again. I’m picking up trees from the Calhoun Conservation District tomorrow for planting on Friday. It’s possible I selected too many trees since they were so inexpensive and I felt I was helping a good cause.

Put the hummingbird and oriole jelly feeders up last weekend. This next weekend I’ll be planting radish and arugula seeds. This time of year always goes so fast!

crochet

Crochet

I’m crocheting another baby blanket. It’s Bernat Baby Softee yarn in pink and navy. It’s a HDC waffle stitch on an L sized hook, so it’s super soft and drape-y. The yarn is more likely to split, so you have to keep one eye on it with the other on Rebus on Britbox. After this (weaving in the ends will take forever), it’s back to the shawl and more blankets for the cat room. Staff members are loving the different colors.

Painting #38

Tuesday, April 13, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
painting #38

Painting #38 is the latest piece. Part of it still seems really flat. It’s from a photograph in a Conde Nast Traveler magazine. Sometimes when painting just isn’t going good, I think I should quit but in reality I should probably paint more. Bob gave me some good advice on inspiration and things to try, and a commenter on Reddit gouache had some great feedback for me.

This morning Bob and I went to get my Johnson & Johnson vaccine when it was announced that the CDC and FDA were requesting a pause on it because of blood clots. I’m going to try to get the Pfizer instead through a walk-in clinic over the next three days.

We may be getting snow on Thursday, but I don’t expect it to stick. The perennials are coming up, and I need to weed the garden. Kitten season has started at work, and of course we are short-staffed.

Signs of Spring

Friday, April 9, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
signs of spring carnival

Signs of Spring are everywhere to be seen now. The maple trees are fuzzy puffballs, the forsythia, daffodils, and crabapple trees are in bloom, and the carnival has arrived in town! Probably the carnival isn’t the best thing for our huge local spike in COVID, but it did brighten my soul a bit driving past it. We’ve had some rain and everything is really greening up.

signs of spring carnival

It’s hard not to get excited about planting. I ordered some tree seedlings from the Calhoun Conservation District to do some planting around the shelter. Still too early for vegetables, but by the end of the month the trees can go in the ground. I am tracking the progress of the hummingbirds on the Journey North website as well. There’s so much excitement in the air, it’s hard to keep one’s thoughts tethered to work and responsibilities.

signs of spring carnival

We’re in a bit of a pickle at work, with not enough staff. I’m working this Saturday, but may get in a situation where using my vacation time is difficult. Kitten season has started as well and we have several mom cats with kittens. They aren’t well socialized, so we will be working on that. I feel like I need a whole extra day to catch up on sleep again. Meanwhile, the stacks of letters keep growing and I can’t catch up on anything else. I am scheduled for my vaccine on Tuesday, the Johnson and Johnson, in Albion. I also have to get a crown towards the end of the month. April is moving so fast, as this time of year often does. I can’t even think about the martini event without feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach. Better to concentrate on painting, the recorder, and upcoming gardening and hope for the best. What signs of spring are you sighting in your area?

Misc. Updates

Tuesday, April 6, 2021 0 No tags Permalink

Today’s misc. updates include gardening, sewing, and painting. What a mix! Last weekend I got some gardening done. Did the preliminary clean-up on the monarch butterfly beds. Last fall I planted a cover crop and it didn’t die back, so I turned over the soil and put down heavy black plastic. Hopefully by April 17th the soil will be ready for planting arugula and radishes. It’s still well over a month before the rest of the vegetables can be planted. Today and tomorrow are supposed to be around 80 degrees, so it seems like we went straight from winter to summer. Bob put in the screen in the bedroom Sunday night after we got home from a bonfire at Cindy’s. The spring peepers were singing their love songs.

It’s been awhile since I’ve done any sewing, but this weekend I had a few mending projects to take care of and so I decided to make a pillow as well. I don’t remember why I bought this fabric originally…maybe for a skirt? I do love it though. It was nice to do a little sewing again. Maybe as I have more time off the next few months I will do a bit more sewing. Right now I’m working on a crocheted shawl and practicing at least half an hour an evening on the recorder.

This is painting #37. I was going more for the concept and of course the brush “lettering” is not real lettering as I couldn’t make it out from the reference image. I like the yellow lamp to the left best of all. It didn’t turn out quite how I had hoped, but on to the next painting. I’ve been having some trouble with inspiration, and clipped some photos from a travel magazine. I’m not sure what my problem is. I sometimes think the more you paint, the less your inspiration has to do with it and it becomes more about the act of painting. I don’t know.

I’m working on a new project, Bright Line Publishing. I’ll have some documentary film reviews coming up. Click here to check out the site. More misc. updates will be coming up here, with summer reads not too far off and the progress of spring weather. Hope your spring is off to a good start!

Signs of Spring

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
Signs of Spring crocuses

It’s nearly April and we are seeing some signs of spring. Today on the drive in I noticed things looked somehow different. Then I realized the grass is really green and the monochromatic browns of winter are gone. The crocuses (above) were out March 20, which is just a bit early compared to normal. The forsythia outside my window at work is opening, and daffodils are in bloom. Tomorrow and Thursday are supposed to be cold (in the 30s on Thursday for the high!), but that may well be the end of the cold weather.

Mom and Bob at the creek

Bob and I spent part of two weekends working on cleaning up the creek behind Mom’s house. A number of trees had fallen, and had blocked the path of the water. It’s not 100%, but it’s better for sure. We even saw two fish as soon as the path opened up. It was like nature sent us a sign to thank us for the work. It was nice to be down there again and I know Dad would be proud of the effort. Due to the changes with the trees, the whole lower area gets more sun now, so I’ll be interested to see the new signs of spring as they occur there in the cleared space.

painting #36

This is painting #36, in gouache. It’s inspired by a photo from a Conde Nast Travel magazine. I’m reasonably pleased with how it turned out. I was having a bit of difficulty with inspiration, so a few travel magazines have hopefully filled that void. I have been practicing half an hour every evening on the recorder, and making some progress on that. Hope your spring is off to a good start!

Misc. Weather Updates

weather

The average temperature for this upcoming week should be around 47/25 so it looks like we’ll be having nicer weather than what we deserve (or should have). The maple in our backyard popped over the weekend. I’d expect with these upcoming temperatures, we’ll be seeing more signs of spring shortly. I need to get out on the Bark Park trails and see how the pussy willows are coming along. Friday is the first day of spring, and we’re mid-month now. I really need to get my bike out. I’ve done so little exercise this winter I totally expect to not be able to even get in ten miles.

This little image didn’t come out very well. It’s actually not a bad impression of the reference image, but it’s still not great. Still, in the interest of posting successes and failures, here’s painting #35, in gouache on watercolor paper. I have so many reference photos, but this weekend I just couldn’t get enthused about painting any of them. Maybe it had more to do with motivation and mood than potential images. I did manage to play the recorder each day, so at least I have that going for me.

This week is short, but full of dreadful meetings. Planning on doing continued creek cleanup at Mom’s house this Friday, and hopefully this time I won’t fall in the water. Last time I was in the water, but got stuck in the mud and fell over backwards. Then, as I laid there on my back, my hip waders filled with water. I wound up being wet and muddy from toe to neck. I’ll bring an extra pair of pants on Friday just in case.

Painting #34 and Misc. Updates

painting #34 gouache

Ok, I’m fairly pleased with this one, painting #34. I think the tree on the right could use a little more work, but overall, not bad. The reference image was from a Smithsonian magazine, and it’s done in gouache on watercolor paper.

It’s warmer today and tomorrow, but I don’t want to enjoy it because the next few weeks will be back to cold. Close to average for this time of March, but still. I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to spring, as I don’t like people being outdoors making noise. I do however prefer to not be cold. My lungs seem to enjoy warm, moist air. The opposite of Michigan six months out of the year. I should have gotten my bike out for today. I’m not much motivated to do anything except play the recorder. I am motivated to do that. I’ve been also playing a bit of Beat Saber on the Oculus Quest 2. And watching British mysteries in the evenings while I crochet blankets for the cat room at the shelter.

You may be asking yourself…what? The recorder? If you are a certain age and went to school in Michigan, there’s a good chance you were forced to play the recorder in elementary school. And 30 kids playing the recorder at one time is just as horrific as it sounds. Who knows why we did it. I barely remember. But I recently came upon a professional recorder player on youtube and it really is a lovely sounding instrument. As recorders are hella cheap (for the kind you can learn on, not professional quality of course), I picked one up and decided to learn to play it. And it’s really quite nice. I don’t recall picking up another instrument so quickly. Also, whereas with my other instruments I’ll get tired of playing after awhile…aching neck, sore mouth, etc. there is none of that with the recorder. If only my experience in elementary school had been better, maybe I too would be a professional recorder player now. Here’s a nice little bit of recorder playing for reference:

Plaza Motel

Thursday, March 4, 2021 0 No tags Permalink
Plaza Motel

PLAZA MOTEL

4410 14th Street, West
On U.S. Hwy. 41 between Bradenton and
Sarasota at Cortez Plaza and DeSoto Mall
Bradenton, Florida 33507
Modern Air-Conditioned Efficiencies and Over-nights. Restaurants, Coffee Shop and Cafeteria in Shopping Centers.
Phone (813) 755-9032

International Graphics Inc, Hollywood Florida
Coml. Photography, 2809 Auburn Ave., Tampa 33614

This lovely card is not used, but someone has written 1976 on the back. I can smell this place in my mind…air conditioning and cigarettes. Get your ice from the ice machine and an RC Cola. Pop in to the coffee shop for breakfast.

Unfortunately, it’s long gone. Shame.