Enjoy life now... it has an expiration date.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Woo Hoo.... a blog award!

I've been awarded this snazzy award by the very gracious Martina at My Little Chamber of Art blog. Thank you, Martina! Do visit Martina's blog - she's got some nice art, mischievous kitties and links to video tutorials.... you'll enjoy visiting her!

Now to pass this nifty award on to five other bloggers. It's a no-strings attached award... just pass it on to five others if you 'd like to... there's not even any lists to make! Enjoy!

It's always hard to choose, but here goes:

Teresa (the other Teresa!)

That's more than five. Oh well. Math never was my strong point. ;-)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Project!

Okay... new project underway. Woo Hoo! I love a new painting! Wish I had thought to take photos while in the very beginning stages, but was excited about getting started and jumped right in with both feet.

Meet Gracie, the granddaughter of a friend. This photo was taken while she was in a butterfly costume for her very first Halloween at 7 months old. Bet she got a lot of candy!

I'm posting the original reference, a black and white version of what I've done so far, and the color version as it is now. I posted the black and white because in the actual art work my pencil lines are so faint in some areas that they're not even visible onscreen. The b/w looks awful, but it's only to show the drawing where Gracie is being held by her Grandma. Grandma will be in the painting.... I love the way you see her peeking from behind Gracie.

I've really worked at my cp technique recently and I think (hope!) it's starting to show. A big thank you to Felicity over at Sketches by Fiz who has been a lot of help and has generously shared her expertise, answering every question I asked and even posting WIP's in response to my questions (thank you so much Felicity!). I admired her light touch in her art and really wanted to lighten up my own art. I think I'm looking for a combination of light touch and rich tones in my paintings. To be honest, I'm not exactly sure what I'm looking for, but I'll know it when I find it and until then... it sure is fun! I LOVE ART!! :-)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Lovely Award....

A big "Thank You" to the very sweet and extremely talented watercolorist Laure (I'm only a little bit jealous... honest!) over at Painted Thoughts Blog who graced me with this pretty award. Laure has some simply gorgeous watercolors... and an Etsy site where some of them are for sale. Visit Laure here.

Along with the award comes a request to list seven things I love. Although I've already listed seven things for an award earlier in the month, there are so many things in life I enjoy that it's easy to think of seven more. In no particular order here they are:

1. A day at the ocean to beachcomb

2. Quiet vacations on Ocracoke Island

3. Blueberry pie, blueberry cobbler, blueberry jam, blueberry yogurt, blueberry . . . . . (hence the blog header!)

4. Reading

5. Christmas scented candles

6. The sound of my husband's laughter

7. Spending a day with one or both of my grown sons (an all too rare event when they grow up and leave home).

Since I just tagged seven people earlier this month, if you're reading this consider yourself tagged and do join in on the fun!

February Newspaper Column

No new art to post yet. Had a couple of things in the works that didn't work out.... but they were good practice! Starting a couple of new pieces and hopefully will have something to post before too much longer.

In the meantime, here's this month's newspaper column.

A Tale from the Family Tree: Ed, Jim and the Still in the Woods

I can tell this tale because those involved live only in the memories of the people who knew them, or knew of them. I cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, having never met the participants, nor was I witness to the events I am about to relate, but the basic facts are as I tell them to you today. The names have been changed to protect the innocent... and the otherwise.

Those of you who are acquainted with my husband know that he is a great story teller and loves nothing more than an entertaining tale that captivates an audience. This follows a custom thousands of years old. In days of old, when the average person could neither read nor write, family traditions and legends were passed on to younger generations through the art of storytelling. At some point, as literacy became the norm, a family member usually committed the stories to paper to preserve them and to make them more widely available. Which brings us back to the hubby and his stories. After several years of hearing all kinds of colorful tales, I thought I should follow custom and ink the tales before they disappeared like a wisp of smoke on the breeze. 'Course, some stories remain better unpublished, and those we allow to settle into quiet obscurity. But others, like today’s story, is one that could never happen in our day and time because things have changed so much, and if for no other reason than that, this tale merits preservation.

The "gentleman" in our story today is a few generations back in the family tree. I enclosed the word gentleman in quotes because, since it’s my hubby’s family I’m making an effort to be polite. Truth is, "rascal", "scoundrel" or "scalawag" would be much more suitable, both for the family member and the employee he hires. But on to the story.

As you know, country folk are generally a hardy, independent and resourceful lot. In days gone by, folks purchased far less "store bought" goods than they do today, especially during the Great Depression, which is when our story begins. Money and goods were scarce. Most families either made it themselves, grew it themselves, or did without. This self-sufficiency not only saw them through tough times, but was also a point of pride. Folks were satisfied, even smug, in their knowledge that homemade was tastier, more tender, or stronger, than store bought. This held true for everything from sausage and hams from the smokehouse to mustard greens and corn from the garden to. . . stump hole liquor from the still in the woods. Yessir, buddy. Nothing like that old timey shine. Store bought stuff wouldn’t touch it... folks with good sense wouldn’t either. Like a lot of homemade products it was versatile- you could drink it, or you could run your car or tractor off it.

Making moonshine ("shine") was at one time an activity engaged in by a surprising number of people. Bootleg liquor has been the basis for more than one family fortune. The profits from such a venture were substantial enough to tempt a lot of folks, both city dwellers and rural.

Which brings us back to the family member in our story (who we'll call "Ed"). Ed and some kinfolk decided to get in on the liquor business. Make a little money and manufacture a supply of liquid encouragement for Saturday night get togethers. Ed, his brothers, and a couple of cousins, soon became quite proficient at the distilling process, enough so that a delivery person was needed so they could concentrate on production. They already had a man picked out... one Jim Riverton of Jaspersonville who had a reputation as fast thinker and nobody’s fool. Times were lean and dollars were scarce so Jim was enthusiastic about his new job. ‘Course no one could know of his employment, being illegal and all, but Jim wasn’t worried, he’d easily outwit the local law.

Jim arrived to pick up his first batch of shine in his new investment: a used ambulance he’d acquired just for the job. It was in decent shape, and since at that time there were not nearly as many rules and regulations for folks to abide by as there are today, the previous owners had kindly left all the goodies on the ambulance including the paint job denoting it as a medical vehicle, the lights, and the siren.

Well, this was no doubt one of the most perfect setups there has ever been. Once a week or so, Jim would gently ferry his patients (‘bout 100 gallons of them in recycled glass pickle jars, canning jars, and the like) right through the main street of Jaspersonville. Whenever he chanced to see the local lawman, Jim would offer a polite wave. When the patients were safely delivered to their destination, Jim collected his pay and everybody was happy.

We really don’t know how long this little setup went on, but it was long enough that Jim began to get more comfortable and less cautious. Not only was he transporting shine, he was sipping it. Just a little at first, but you know how that down hill slide goes. One night Jim slid quite a way, until, with a too generous helping of stump hole under his belt he left for a run and decided to try out some of the goodies on the ambulance. Heck, with a siren and lights a man could ignore the speed limit, couldn’t he? After all... this was an ambulance.

He scooted through Jaspersonville on his way to Bayson, well above the speed limit with lights flashing and siren loudly wailing. He didn’t even make it out of the city limits before he was joined by another set of lights and a siren. Yep, it was the law.

Jim rolled down the window as the lawman walked up.

"Jim, you sure been hauling a lot of sick folk lately." "Mind if I take a look back there?

Well, with all those "patients" tightly packed in the back of the ambulance, the lawman’s find spelled the end of Jim’s delivery days. It was also the end of Ed’s production days; and, it is the end of our tale. But, no doubt we'll climb the family tree again and see if there's another story there waiting to be told in another column.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Art Blog Award!

I was very kindly given an Art Blog Award by James Parker (thank you, James!) who requests that I write seven things that I love and pass it on to seven other bloggers.

Hmmmm... sounds like fun.

Preface: It goes without saying that most of all I love God, family and friends, but as for life's other joys......

Seven Things I Love:

1. The feeling I get when I finish a piece of art, I learned something new... and hopefully the art came out halfway decently.

2. Cold blustery/snowy/rainy days when I can stay home and snuggle in a blanket with my furry soulmate (Bailey, my cat) and watch Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, or read a good book.

3. Cooking for my family and friends

4. Walking and seeing the beauty of nature, hearing the birds singing and feeling the breeze on my face.

5. Memories. I cherish the memories of people I love, places I love, funny things, touching things, beautiful things.

6. Creativity. Whether through art or writing, I feel more alive, aware and complete when I'm creating.

7. Chocolate. Coffee. Chocolate. Coffee. Hmmm..... a tie?

It's hard to choose seven folks to pass this award on to, but here goes:

6. Jan

Note to the "seven"... if time doesn't permit you to participate in passing on this award... just post the award on your blog and enjoy!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Mini Mural - Complete!

Unless I do some last minute tweaking, the mural is finished. Sorry the photo isn't very good... it has a pinkish cast to it... probably because I took the photo this evening as the sun was going down. It's actually not pink. I do have to put a protective coat of sealant on it, but I'll let it sit overnight to make sure it's completely dry.

Some observations along the mural way:

1. I love acrylic paint because it dries so fast.

2. I hate acrylic paint because it dries so fast.

3. It's nice that it dries fast because you can move on quickly without extended periods of drying time. It's a pain that it dries so fast because if you've painted something and then later on decide you want to go back and softly blend an area .... well..... good luck!

4. I'm looking forward to using my new set of Chroma Acrylics (a surprise gift I received) - which perform like oils but don't have the yucky scent. They can dry as fast as acrylics... or as slow as oils - the artist's choice. Plus, if days later - after your painting is thoroughly dry - you decide to want to blend an area, or even change a color - you can. Included with the set is a type of "rewetting" medium that allows you to go back and make changes to previously dry paint.

5. I sorely missed my colored pencils and my regular "art space". I've used mostly colored pencil for months now and didn't realize how much I'd adapted to using this clean, convenient, dry media. Oh, the fine detail you can achieve with pencils! And, no brushes to wash, no paint that dries up in the tube. Plus, it's as dry as it will ever be the moment you apply it.... yet at the same time it's as blendable two days later as it was when first applied.

Woo Hoo for colored pencils! :-)

Mini Mural WIP #3

Here's the third WIP. I can see the home stretch now!
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