Misc. Updates – Painting, Crochet and Weather

It seems we are ready for some misc. updates. I’ve been doing better keeping this updated in general this year, but I am lacking on the postcards. I’ll have to work on that.

We’ve had our first major frost, and it’s been colder than average the past week or so. It is supposed to warm up in the next two days before dropping down again so maybe I will get two final bike rides in. I sure hope so.

Mom and I went up to clean up the cemeteries on the 13th, and took the back way home to take some photos for later painting inspiration. I think this has been the most beautiful autumn I ever remember. It’s so lovely, it fuels my neuroses and makes me wonder if the beauty is to make up for a horror that will arrive soon. Do you ever feel that way? Anyhow, I pulled over at Goldies Motel to snap #10. This photo has not been retouched. The colors were that amazing.

Goldies Motel

I’ve been doing website updates at work. The shelter is closed to the public through the end of the year, except by appointment. It’s more peaceful this way, and we’ve still been doing fine with adoptions. I do miss the Trail of Terror though, and dressing up for Halloween, even though it is a ton of work. Donna and Jerry Castleberry died from COVID-19 this past weekend. Cases are climbing in Calhoun County.

crochet blanket

I’ve been watching streaming and crocheting in the evenings. This blanket is for a relative. The colors reminded me of water…that of the ocean and of the great lakes. It’s Lion Brand Mandala which is self striping, and I’m doing my old trusty repeating HDC using an L hook. I watched The Trial of the Chicago 7 which was quite good. And the Haunting of Bly Manor. Just started Deadwater Fell.

When I am not painting, it seems I am always thinking of painting. I’m taking an online class to build my skills now. I’ve been working on color swatches which is helping me to pick colors I guess. So I have learned something new from the class. It is cool we live in a time when we can take classes and learn so much online. This is my latest piece, which was inspired by a photo in an old Sunset magazine. It’s in gouache and is piece #22. It serves as a reminder that you absolutely need a ruler to draw your horizon line. But I think the rocks are pretty good.

painting #22

I got my flu vaccine and have been having nightmares and bad headaches again. Not because of the vaccine, but just because. I’m finding it somewhat hard to concentrate on writing snail mail letters and impossible to read.

Painting #20 and #21

Wednesday, October 14, 2020 0 No tags Permalink
painting

I’ve dedicated more time recently to painting. I find the time I spend painting reduces my blood pressure and ignites my mind at the same time. It’s something I can completely get lost in, like I did with playing music years ago. It seems impossible to think sour thoughts when you’re focused on colors and images. This past week I did gouache swatches with white of all my colors, which I am hoping will be helpful in selecting appropriate colors. It also helped me figure out that I am missing a few key colors, an excuse to make another order at Blick. Here’s a tip for ordering: spring for the next level up in shipping. It shortens the time significantly, sometimes up to a week, and it’s not much more money. Blick is amazing and has all kinds of arts and craft supplies.

Right now I’m taking a fun little online class on painting a daily journal. The focus is kind of coming up with faster painted sketches as a means of overall improving your painting. The above barn was from a photo I took on an earlier walk this summer. I’ve gotten these small gouache pieces down to two or three days to complete which is a huge difference compared to my first acrylic pieces.

painting

The image of the bird, above, is from a photo I took a few years back in the Florida Everglades. I’ve repainted it a few times and the beastie still looks rather like a duck. It’s also a bit too big. But I’m happy with the rest of it.

I’ve taken some great photos of autumn leaves, and am looking forward to painting some of the season over the next few weeks. I’d like to grow in my imagination in my painting. I’m not a very realistic painter, so the idea that I have to copy an image is unnecessary.

Painting #19

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

I added them up, and I suppose this is painting #19. When I started the year, I hoped for one piece a month. I’ve done more than that, but I didn’t paint at all in August. I so enjoyed getting back into it this month, I really want to make more time in the rest of the year. I’m not sure that I’m getting better, but again I love how I feel when I am painting. Anyhow, this image is of the old school house that’s on the corner of Beckley and Helmer in Battle Creek.

Painting and Sewing

Tuesday, July 28, 2020 0 No tags Permalink
Brother Pacesetter Sewing Machine

I’ve been looking at new sewing machines for awhile, and came across a great deal on this Brother Pacesetter. I believe the last clothing item I sewed was the Endora dress for Halloween several years ago (can that really be it?), so the dress I started is a challenge. I’m not going to show the pattern, as I am going to be altering the yoke significantly. However, I will post the finished dress, whenever that actually is done. I know since the Endora dress I’ve made some purses and some masks, and of course mending work. But I have missed sewing.

gouache painting water scene

This is my most recent gouache painting. Haven’t had much time to paint lately, either. The inspiration of this was a vacation photo my friend Pam took and sent to me. It turned out ok I think.

gouache painting Waffle Window Portland Oregon

And here’s the one before, which I don’t think turned out that great due to issues with perspective. Again. But it’s important to show the successes and failures. I can’t help but think if I had more time to paint, I’d be showing more improvement. But isn’t that the case with everything in life?

The summer is going quickly, nearly August now. We’ve had two generations of monarch caterpillars and are getting lots of cherry tomatoes and some peppers and cucumbers from the garden. This year we’ve had very little rain. Maxy cat has a vet appointment today to check again for thyroid issues and high blood pressure. He is such a sweet little beast, and I know this will be stressful for him. I will finally be getting the old Subaru in for the airbag recall later this week. This Summer of Covid has been so strange.

Misc. Updates

Monday, June 8, 2020 0 No tags Permalink

It is feeling much more like summer these days. I did finish the monarch garden, with the exception of edging as I am still waiting for that to ship. With COVID-19, everything is taking forever to ship. The governor opened the State of Michigan today, and everyone is walking around like there never was a virus. I’m kind of surprised that there are still shipping delays at this point. Mom is also working really hard on her garden and it’s looking great. We haven’t had much rain, so we are having to water nearly every day. I’ve also been biking regularly, and have put in 125 miles so far.

This is my latest gouache painting and reference photo from an old Sunset Magazine. Again, I wouldn’t say I’m showing improvement, but I am enjoying the process so that is something.

This old abandoned house has been catching my eye. I expect it will be torn down this summer. It was built in 1911. All of the windows are gone, and it’s owned by the Land Bank. J. Charles Lee, superintendent of the Battle Creek Box Company, resided in the home up until his death in 1931. Mr. and Mrs. John Swainston were listed as owning the home in 1937, Mr. and Mrs, David Stebleton in 1939, and Mr. and Mrs. Victor Soules were listed as living in the home in 1942. The home was owned by the Fox/Black family (Jessie Fox (mother), Viola (daughter) – died 1990, Gerald (1973) and later Lillian Black) from 1946 until it was lost to the county treasurer in 2019. It looks like Lillian had been living on Highland Blvd from 2016 – 2018, when she passed away. It is likely this house, 466 Capital Avenue NE, has been empty since 2016.

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.

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.

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.