Spring has sprung!

Hi Everyone!

Hopefully your week is as beautiful as ours. This is going to be a quick hello and some lovely photos of the blooms happening here. My son and his girlfriend are back for a short visit before he starts the firefighting academy in May. I have been trying to get my To Do list done before they got here so I could spend time catching up with them.

Most of my week has been spent doing garden related activities and looking after many, many seedling babies. We have been excited to see many of the plants we uncovered from layers and layers of honeysuckle, poison ivy and unknown other vines, now blooming their hearts out. The old apple trees bloomed much heavier after having a major pruning last year. Hopefully they will give us some apples now.

Call me a little Woo Woo, but I truly think plants, just like people, know when you are trying to help them. We have one little azalea that I was absolutely sure was dead when I discovered it under the vines. I pruned back the dead branches that I could manage and planned to have DH cut it completely down, but before he could get to it, little leaves started to pop out. It is now blooming away and will probably be full and lush next year.

There is still a ton to do, but this Spring is definitely the encouragement we needed to keep pulling up weeds, over grown flower beds, and aggressive vines (never, ever, ever plant English Ivy!!). The hummingbirds have been doing fly bys to let me know they expect food from the feeder and the butterflies are loving all the blooms.

I have no idea where all the honeybees are coming from since my colony died and I’m waiting to get my new one. Everywhere here we have honeybees. Now, we do not spray pesticides and yes we have weeds, but those weeds feed the bees. I’m hoping there are wild bees in the woods behind us. If they are thriving in the wild that means they are overcoming the mite infestation that has devastated the honeybee population. I’m very happy to see they and they are always welcome. It’s a good idea to keep your shoes on when walking in the yard though.

I gotta go make food for people and hummingbirds. Have a wonderful week.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Learning curve

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been going? Things here have been slightly less hectic than last week. Today has been my taxi day. DN had to get her new glasses, braces wire fixed, and dentist visit. In the middle of those I had to pick up some tax info and get the dog’s meds. All this before NOON!

Tuesday school started back up and I had the house to myself again. I celebrated by going out and sketching a while around the farm. I wanted to sketch the horses since they are always one of the most difficult things for me to draw, but none of them would cooperate. So I drew old buildings and hay bales.

Yesterday my plan was to finish a project that I have been struggling with for a few weeks now. It is requiring me to learn new software. We all know how much fun that is. So, I go to open the file I need to finalize and…it’s 95% gone. Yep, hours of work just gone. I have no idea how or why. Bad words were said. This has been one of those projects that could turn out to be a good source of income or it might be a bust. I won’t know until I try, but I will try again next week when I can recover from the high aggravation factor.

Last week I mentioned that I was up to some creative endeavors with a couple of coffee bean bags. So, what exactly did I do with those coffee bean bags?? I made kitchen curtains. I don’t know about you, but when I move into a house (and I have moved into alot of houses) I need to live with a place for a while to get ideas of how I want it to look. Our kitchen has been a struggle. It has one wall of the original 1955 wood paneling that DH dearly loves and immediately let me know that no paint brush will touch it. It has 1990’s oak cabinetry that once again, you-know-who doesn’t want to paint and quite frankly it would be pricey to have someone paint. I have painted cabinets before. That was enough for one lifetime. There are light blue laminate countertops that are not in great shape and mismatched appliances.

Now my decorating style is eclectic primarily because I like very old stuff and I like very modern stuff so it becomes a mismash. Granted, I like the lovely current farm house decor, but let’s be real, real farmer types cannot have wall to wall WHITE. That becomes red Carolina clay color in a split second. We wear boots that daily tromp through dirt, grass and manure. The previous owners put gray tile in the kitchen and while it is very practical, I don’t really like it. To be real again, I will live with it. Not gonna be tearing up perfectly good tile that will outlast me.

Back to the coffee bean bags. My moment of inspiration about curtains gave me a direction to take the kitchen. They are rustic, but not sweet rufflely country. I already have plans to paint the countertops black to tie in with the stainless and black stove (the white dishwasher and fridge will be replaced eventually). DH and I found a sweet deal on two cool bar stools at the ReStore that are wood and black metal. All that ties in the black and the wood. The other kitchen chairs from the ReStore are going to get painted white to lighten up all that dark wood and go with the walls and windows. The rest of the decor is vintage. I lean heavily to the 1930’s and 40’s. Luckily we happen to have some nice pieces from DH’s family that have found a home in the kitchen. I would love to replace the cabinet and drawer pulls, but there are tons of them. I would bankrupt us just with pulls if I got all new. For the time being I will probably get creative with the brass (gotta love those 80’s and 90’s brass things) and black paint and replace a little at a time. Whew!

That’s about it for the creative stuff here. I did get back on a horse yesterday for the first time in over a year. Back when I was taking my grief break, DN and I started taking horse back riding lessons because uncles/husbands shouldn’t try to teach family members, especially a couple of mouthy females. I was loving it, but then a kidney stone happened, followed by Covid. We stopped the lessons. Next month DN will have wrapped up soccer and band and we plan to get back to the lessons. I can’t wait. Even though I had DH lead the horse (horse is still in training) instead of me taking the reins, it was good. I remembered my posture and my weight shifts, etc. The horse, Cinder, is a big, lanky Tennesse Walker. I swear it’s like riding an elephant he is so tall. We won’t even discuss the graceful (NOT) assent and desent I made on said horse. No cameras allowed!

So, I guess whether it’s software or horses, there is a learning curve and everything rarely goes smoothly. I will ungracefully get back on a horse and ungracefully repair my computer file, but will learn new things in the process.

Have a awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

A makeup week

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. It is 2 pm and I’m exhausted already. Once a month I make the Costco run for most of our groceries. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned how much I dislike grocery shopping, but I dislike it very much. During lockdown last year I kinda liked having my Costco order delivered. Unfortunately I couldn’t get fresh veggies and fruit that way so I still had to drag myself into a store occasionally. I’m pretty jealous of those of you who have Insta Cart and Door Dash.

Anyway, Costco was wall to wall people today. Between trying to drive a heavily laden cart through herds of humans, loading them (the groceries, not the humans) into my car, unloading them into the house and dealing with the introvert overwhelm of all those humans, it took a toll. I’m ready for a nap.

Costco was just one of the many trips I have had to make this week. Seriously, I think I have put on makeup the most this week over any other week in the past year. Tomorrow is the Lowe’s run for the final load of drywall for the attic (woo hoo). So more makeup.

Now that you know that I have spent most of my week driving back and forth, have you figured out that I have not gotten one tiny bit of artwork done? It has also been Spring Break for DN and I have been trying to keep her busy all week too. Yesterday I took her out for her second driving lesson. I take her to the nearby church that has a nice big parking lot and we work on those stops, turn signals, looking both ways, etc. This is the third kid I have taught in that parking lot. The parking lot lessons are easy. I’m trying to mentally prepare myself for the next driving adventure that will start in July. Those are hair raising.

I did have one tiny spurt of creativity this week. My sister offered me a couple of coffee bean bags to use as grow bags in my garden. Initally I turned them down. The next day I had an idea for something else to do with them and took them off her hands. I hopefully will have that little project done next week and I will let you see what I have in mind for these bags.

My apologies for not having any more to post here this week. Other than that big jar of jelly beans I picked up today it has been a fairly boring week. Plenty to do but none of it very interesting. Next week DN heads back to school full time (we are both doing the happy dance), it’s going to be in the 70’s and there should be more fun things to report.

Have a great week. Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it. We will be attending a rather chilly, not quite sunrise, but outdoor service. I will still have to wear makeup.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Things that make you go Hummmmm

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well and life is grand in your part of the world. Unfortunately with the state of the world right now many people cannot say that. The rest of us need to do our best to comfort and support them when we can. I have two dear friends right now who are dealing with big family issues. After reading the details in our group text, all I could really say is “the plates we have to spin at this age sure do get heavier and heavier”. DH and I had a similar discussion with DN about personal responsibility and how adulting is tough, but it is not wise to expect others to solve your problems. We can’t solve each other’s problems, but we can support each other through them.

Things here have been fairly uneventful and I’m always grateful for uneventful. No animal drama and not too much teenage drama (parents of girls, you know what I mean). I got to enjoy a funny Facetime with my daughter in SC and my wide open 2 year old grandson. We have a granddaughter turning one tomorrow and will be celebrating with a big birthday bash on Saturday. All practices for DN have been cancelled today so I don’t have to run the taxi service at all. It’s the little things I appreciate more and more.

I have been working on some artwork, but not anything I can share right now. DN starts back to school full time, in person after Spring Break so I am trying to get back to my original 2021 plan of putting in 20 hours a week of actual revenue producing work again. If I can figure out some new software (I have been figuring out new software since 1985!) I will share what I’m trying to do. Work on the attic has been slow but steady. DH added more joint compound to the drywall and I have been sanding and painting. We hope to get the last of the drywall bought in the next week and pick up the pace.

During this week I have noticed several conversations we have had about weird coincidences happening in the world and a “could this happen” question about mobile banking, etc. Sort of random things like the fact that I have seen many, many new sheds/barns going down the road this week. A lot of stimulus checks must have gone toward new sheds.

While I was working on the whole new software learning ordeal, I wound up going down the NFT (Non-fungible Tokens) rabbit hole. Have you seen where people are selling this artwork on blockchains for millions of dollars? Don’t think for a moment that I understand this stuff or plan on selling any artwork that way, but it put my poor little brain in frizzle mode. Millions of dollars for artwork that only exists in digital form? You don’t print it out and put it on your wall? It just sits on a computer or the blockchain (don’t ask me to explain blockchain technology. I am not capable.), but you can resell it if you purchase it and actually make royalties from it. I will watch from the sidelines and see what happens with this technology. Maybe it will be a big thing for a while or it may be a big bust or scheme. Maybe some people just have more money than good sense. Raise your hand if you would be willing to help them out with all that money and put it towards something more tangible!

If any of you want to chime in on the whole NFT thing please feel free. I would like to understand it better because I’m a closet geek about these things. What things make you go “hummmmmm” when you hear about them? It keeps life interesting.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

The Unknowns

Hi Everyone!

I hope you are well. If you are in the Northern Hemisphere, are you as excited as I am that SPRING will offically be here this weekend? The next couple of nights will not feel very Springy, but next week is looking much better.

Normally I plan to get my posts out on Thursdays, but give myself some grace to ooze into Friday when necessary. It has been a thing for the past few weeks. This week we had our oldest granddaughter with us Wednesday – Thursday while she is on Spring Break. Nothing terribly productive is going to happen when one or more of the kids or the grands are here. If all goes well (crossing my fingers), our schools are supposed to open back up to in person learning after Easter!! I’m not sure who is more excited, me or DN. She is so ready to have a social life again and I am so ready to have my schedule back again. DH is also now working 5 days a week again which he hasn’t been able to do since July. It is virtually impossible to really get the creative juices going with constant interruptions and as much as I love them, DH & DN find a way to interrupt my plans numerous times when they are home.

An update on my Queen Bee situation is in order after last week’s crazy. After providing Her Majesty with a cozy, new home, food, and brood for new workers SHE UP AND LEAVES! Absconding it’s called in the bee world. She took her tiny entourage and left to parts unknown. Dang it! There are theories and speculation as to why absconding happens, but no one really knows. I do know that it was a terrible time to leave and the likelihood that she and her attendants survived this week is very low. I guess all works out in the end. As disappointed as I was to lose her, I don’t think I really want a queen with that little good sense.

While I was driving back from soccer dropoff the other day I got to pondering the whole unknown thing. Have you ever thought about just how much “unknown” we live with every day? It’s unknown why queen bees leave a perfectly good hive. A year ago we all faced a whopping big unknown about this pandemic. It’s unknown every day what the weather will really do (sorry meteorologists, but you aren’t always terribly accurate). It’s unknown how our health will hold up, if our jobs will hold up, if our relationships will hold up. I find it ironic that human beings as a whole can be so arrogant when we know so little.

Hopefully the older we get and the more life “unknowns” we live through, the more we appreciate the here and now. I know that more and more I appreciate the simplest things because of where I’ve been. I seriously appreciate my family and friends because I have lost so many already. As I hear about more and more people losing their jobs I remember when I was laid off during the Great Recession with two kids to support and a mortage to pay. I appreciate our income and don’t waste it. Even with achy joints I appreciate my health because I’ve faced some scary health unknowns in the past. Just imagine how horrible human beings would be if we didn’t live with constant unknowns. The unknowns are here to humble us, I guess.

The honeybees and the artwork keep me humble always. I found a couple of hours to work on this drawing. In my head it looks different from the way it’s turning out. Really and truly, when I start a piece of artwork, I have no idea how it’s actually going to turn out. Simultainously, it’s amazing and frustrating. Sometimes I’m amazed it turns out ok (there is always the “this is awful” stage) and more times than not, it’s frustrating that it won’t work the way I want it to. Oh well, that’s life.

I have to go take care of a few things before it’s time to put on the Taxi Driver light for soccer practice. Have an awesome week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Royal drama

Hi Everyone!

How has your week been? Hopefully it has not been as challenging as mine has been. I’m a day late and a dollar short thanks to the crazy. There will not be a drawing lesson this week either. I will do my best for next week.

People who live fairly urban / suburban lives probably think not much happens out in the country. Let me assure you that it may be a different kind of drama and excitement, but it is drama and excitement just the same. There has been some Royal Drama in the news lately and someone asked if I watched the interview. Nope. Don’t really care. I have my own form of royal drama around here to deal with.

Tuesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. This is very unusual. Odie has a very set schedule that does not include going out after 9 pm. He is also known for his 17 hour bladder. Seriously, he has gone 17 hours without peeing. His choice, not ours. There might have been cold rain involved. Anyway, lets just say that he had an upset tummy. And he had an upset tummy at 2:30 am. Then again at 3:45 am. Wednesday was just a joy to get through. For some reason he didn’t have all the tummy issues during the day.

Wednesday night – dog wakes me up around 1 am needing to go out. Repeat above pattern. I am feeding him rice and pumpkin for his intestinal problems and he doesn’t seem to feel bad. On the other hand, I am barely functioning.

Thursday is difficult, but Odie seems to be better. Mid-afternoon I drag myself outside to do some work in my garden. I hear banging and rattling coming from the barn. No one should be in the barn. I peek in the crack between the doors and see two horses helping themselves to food in the feed room. One, the door on the other side of the barn was closed earlier. Two, it is a bad, bad thing for horses to feed themselves. Three, the feed room is supposed to always stay closed and latched.

It seems that the “too smart for their own good” horses have learned how to bang their heads against the back door and jar the brace loose to pop the door open. Normally this would not be a huge issue, but the feed room was accidently left open. Horses, for all their big, burly size, seem to be somewhat delicate in my opinion. Like, if they eat too much grain or rich grass they can Founder (Founder (laminitis) in horses is a serious condition of the foot caused by the pedal bone rotating and pointing towards the horse’s sole. It is also one of the most common reasons for disability and lameness in ponies and horses. This is extremely painful and in some cases it may be necessary to euthanize.) or Colic ( “colic” means “abdominal pain,” which can have a variety of causes and treatments. Colic also varies greatly in severity. A horse may have a mild bout of abdominal pain that is resolved with a single dose of medication. Other times, colic may necessitate surgery, or unfortunately, euthanasia. All instances of colic in horses should be treated as a potential emergency.). No matter how hard we try, we have lots of horse drama around here because we have smart horses.

As I am running the two horses out of the feed room and the third one who is trying to get into the feed room, out of the barn, I see the two remaining equine. Christy, our oldest horse and Spark Plug the donkey. Somehow they have managed to get themselves locked into one of the stalls together. I try hard not to impose human emotions onto the animals, but I kid you not, the expressions on their faces said “IT WASN’T US. WE WERE STUCK IN HERE THE WHOLE TIME!” I had to stop and laugh.

Woven in amongst all the above crazy, I had honeybee drama all week. After last week’s post where I said the girls were ok, I began to get the distinct feeling that they weren’t. I kept seeing less and less forager bees. By Wednesday I had decided the Queen was dead and most of my hive as well. I had my usual cry over dead bees. Then I called a beekeeper to order a new nucleus of bees even though every time I say I am hanging up my veil when I lose a hive. I’m sitting out there with the hive, watching a few bees come and go, trying to decide what to do about the few remaining bees that I’m sure are still in there. Then I see something odd. A small clump of bees on the front. I look closer and I see what looks like a Queen bee. What the??? Then it dawns on me that the girls had probably sensed the old queen failing or dead and made a new queen and she was outside to go on her mating flight. Well, dang.

Today, I decided to break down the hive and see what was going on in there. Honestly, I was expecting just to see a lot of dead bees and nothing else. I really didn’t think that young queen would come back or make it back to a dead hive. I open up the hive and see a small cluster of bees. Probably no more than 50. These were the ones I was wondering what to do with if they were still alive. Then I see THE QUEEN! She was back.

From here I am going to do the quick version of several hours of work. Run get small hive box called a nuc that holds 5 frames of bees and beeswax foundation to concentrate food and warmth for THE QUEEN. Put queen and attendants in nuc, move old hive out of way and plop down the nuc in its place so forager bees know where to find home. Run around putting old frames of honey far from the nuc so robber bees won’t come hunting it and kill new queen (nature is harsh). Text my brother-in-law to see if he can spare a frame or two of bee larve (brood) to have new nurse bees to attend queen when she starts laying. Put sugar water at nuc for quick food. Look over at side of nuc and see a new clump of bees on the outside. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. Put post on beekeepers site on Facebook to find out what to do. Told to leave her alone and attendants will walk her back in the box. They did. BIL brings me two frames of brood that I put into nuc. Run around cleaning up my mess in case it rains and look back at nuc. THE DANG QUEEN HAS COME OUT OF THE BOX AGAIN. At this point I’m done. She is on her own. I have stressed and slaved over the girl long enough. But I really, really, really, hope she is mated, gets back in the hive and is as good a Queen as her mother and grandmother were. Maybe not as cranky as her Grandmother. She had serious attitude.

The video is of the second time I found the queen outside with her attendants. She’s under the pile. Now I just wait and watch and hope this has a good ending. I hope I have not bored you with farm life drama. It’s what we love even though we need our heads examined to keep up with all these critters.

Have a great week!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Crown Photo by Ashton Mullins on Unsplash

Video by yours truly

Dad, the girls are ok.

Hi Everyone!

Did anyone do any drawing last week? Guess what. I didn’t. Yes, you can slap me on the wrist. Spring is springing and around here that means all sorts of things are ramping up all at once. Happens every year in March.

We are still working on the attic. Slowly, but surely walls are going up. I have run out of primer and need to make a paint run before Saturday. The colder, wetter days are now attic days. I have been trying to do some cleaning out and reorganizing while waiting for paint to dry.

Seed planting and garden maintence have started. Weed pulling and general outdoor cleanup has been started. Our place was pretty much neglected and overgrown for years before we bought it so we are constantly picking different areas that have to have major brush, vine and weed removal.

Top all this off with DN playing in the high school band and making the soccer team. The football season was pushed to winter/spring so she has band practice and/or soccer practice and games every evening. I am still the taxi. It is a bittersweet moment when a teen gets their driver’s license. The parent is simultaniously terrified and joyous. DN is taking driver’s ed now and will have her permit in the summer. I am one year away from freaking out at every siren sound, running to the phone when it rings and losing sleep until I hear the car pull in. That doesn’t even cover the terrifiying moments in the passenger seat while a newbie driver is at the wheel. Real aging doesn’t happen until you survive teenagers!

March is the beginning of beekeeping season too. During the winter all you can do is make sure the girls have lots of food and hope for the best. March brings happy dances when you see the girls flying again or grief when you realize a colony didn’t survive the winter. If you have several hives these emotions can happen altogether. I got to do my happy dance yesterday. I had seen my girls flying before yesterday, but March is when many hives die from starvation. It was warm enough for me to open the hive and check their food stores. We still have some cold days and nights to go and not much is blooming yet. Unless something weird and dreadful happens, my girls should be good to go for another year.

I like to sit and just watch the bees going and coming. It’s peaceful and confirmation that despite the crazy in the world things are still in God’s order. Today especially I plan to sit with the bees. Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 86. He was a life long beekeeper and when I was a girl one of my jobs was to help him with the bees. At the time I didn’t pick up much actual beekeeping knowledge other than be very careful where you pick up a frame of honey, but the smell of beeswax always sucks me right back to that time. Dad gave me my first hive of bees a few years ago and helped me get set up. I had no idea I would enjoy their company so much. Now I know why he would often go and watch the bees.

Happy Birthday Dad! The girls are ok. The bees and your human ones. I love you.

Have a great week everyone!

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Featured photo was taken by yours truly when my Dad was setting up my first hive of bees for me in 2016. The second picture was taken by my sister on Dad’s 84th and last birthday in 2019.

Lesson 1

Hi Everyone,

Yes, I kinda sorta delayed this post because of three beautiful sixty degree days. It’s still February and I needed to be outside to soak up Vitamin D. Today is back to cold, gray and rainy. I will mention that I did not sleep well last night so this might be a struggle. Call me out if something I put in here makes no sense.

Last week I mentioned that I will do a drawing tutorial for anyone interested. Once again, I do not consider myself a teacher. I am the constant student if anything. This is meant to be a means of creativity and stress relief. Listening to a podcast this week I heard of the ever rising incidents of suicide happening. We have to find ways of looking after ourselves especially mentally with all the continuing crazy. So, if you are so inclinded take these lessons and spend about 15-30 minutes a day practicing this week. I will add more lessons to give you more skills. Don’t stress or go perfectionist on me. These are supposed to be fun, not great works of art.

Materials needed: paper (nothing fancy – copy/printer paper, etc.), a pencil (#2, mechanical, whatever you have), an eraser (a good one on the end of the pencil is fine).

Here is our reference picture. I tried to find something simple, but challenging.

  1. LIGHTLY sketch the basic shapes. Notice that my sketch is loose.

2. Now, the trick is to look and really SEE the lines and shapes. Tell your brain to shut up, because it will tell you what it thinks the gravy boat should look like, not what it really looks like. Take your time and see where lines connect. Begin refining the shapes.

3. Keep working on the shapes and lines. Don’t think about what the object is. Right now it is simply lines and shapes that connect. Notice where I erased and moved things a bit. It is good to put your drawing away at the point you are beginning to feel frustrated. Take some time away and then come back with fresh eyes to make corrections. Just some time away will allow you to see the places you need to adjust. Every drawing and every painting I do comes with the frustration stage. It’s normal. You just have to deal with it and work through it.

4. Here is your homework. Yes, homework. Go around your house and find objects to draw. Don’t overthink this. I do suggest keeping it simple to begin with. Now, every day spend 15-30 minutes drawing one of those objects. Anyone and everyone who has taken a beginning art class will tell you that this is standard operating proceedure. Over the years I have filled many, many sketch books with crappy, daily sketches. You know what happens? Just like playing endless scales on a musical instrument, you slowly get better and better at seeing shapes and shadows (we will get to those). Your hand starts working with your eyes instead of your brain and you get into that lovely FLOW phase where the world drops away while you intensely focus on what you are doing.

I am working on pulling together some reference materials you can check out if you decide you want to delve a little deeper and learn from better teachers.

Have a lovely week. Don’t watch too much news. It is truly bad for you.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace

Christel

Surviving February

Hi Everyone!

If you are in the U.S. right now then there is a very good chance that you have had enough of February. Most of the country is either under snow, flooded with rain and/or experiencing sub artic conditions. Power outages are not helping. We are expecting a major ice storm when you are probably reading this. I’m trying to get it posted in case we lose power. Supposedly we will have sunlight on Friday. I’m not sure my eyes can handle it after weeks of gloom.

I never do well in February. It’s only a marketing ploy that the calendar says it has 28 days. In reality it is 90 days long. We did slosh our way to South Carolina over the weekend to celebrate my daughter’s birthday and hang out with my favorite almost 2 year old. The weather there was just as dreadful, but staying in your pj’s and playing with Legos, PlayDoh and crayons with a toddler takes your mind off it somewhat. We had a great visit and DD and SIL got to go out to dinner for her birthday without the kid for a change.

The rain and gray yesterday almost did me in. Cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder are real and I battle them every February. I was restless, cranky, sleepy, unmotivated and stir crazy. I really couldn’t find much to help. All my go to’s, knitting, artwork, baking, candles, reading, sewing, were letting me down. I finally resorted to watching YouTube videos in tropical places. Ugh, not exactly productive.

Last year when the lockdowns started I was so thankful that it was March and we were having an early Spring so I could be outside. Though we aren’t in a complete lockdown right now, the state of the world is pretty gloomy along with the weather and from what I’m reading and hearing, I’m far from alone in this mental mud. I have been pondering if there is anything I can do to help. Over and over I see where creativity has been the saving grace for so many people during this pandemic and I understand why. Focusing intently on a problem (creativity is problem solving) takes your mind off everything around you. Flow it’s called. Shutting out the world. When I am in the flow a tornado could hit and I would be oblivous until things started flying.

I think I am going to try and post a few drawing tutorials here and see if there is any interest. I do not consider myself a teacher even though years ago I taught a few classes to adults and children. As an artist it is always a good idea to revisit the basics every now and then so it would be good for me too. Drawing, like writing, has been proven to be excellent therapy. Drawing doesn’t require any special or expensive materials. A #4 pencil and some copy paper work just fine. I may make some suggestions for other materials, but even now I will sketch something on any scrap of paper that is laying around.

Now, I don’t want to hear the “I can’t even draw a stick figure” excuse. Yes, I was born with the ability to “see” how objects actually look and draw or paint them. You might have been born with the ability to understand advanced mathmatics. Trust me, that is just as a mysterious ability to me as drawing might be to you, but even I was able to learn enough algebra to pass the class. I think I even used algebra ONCE outside of a classroom. You might need to draw something one day that will help you in a crisis. You are in a foreign country possibly, don’t speak the language and need to find a bathroom! Toliets are not hard to draw.

Right now I’m planning for Lesson 1 next week. If you have hung out here with me for any amount of time, you know that life is very fluid in my world, but if I set a goal I usually am stubborn enough to make it happen. Let’s see how I do with a few lessons and if you happen to know people who are having a tough time right now with life and think a distraction might be good for them, please send them my way. If it helps someone have a break from all the stress swirling around out there then it will be well worth my time.

Let’s all try to keep our heads above water (or snow, or ice) for a few more weeks and hopefully the sunshine will break through soon.

Faith, Hope, Love, Grace,

Christel

Photo of ice on plants by Sarah Cervantes on Unsplash

Impatience

Hi Everyone,

I hope all is well with you and yours this week. Anyone else sick of winter yet? Here in North Carolina we had one of those Spring teaser days this week. I spent the entire day outside working on projects. It was a glorious 60 degrees with sunshine and too good to waste inside. No regrets for thowing all my indoor projects aside. We are back to grey and gloomy with impending rain now. Typical February weather for us and extremely depressing.

Today I started on the fox painting above. In case any of you wonder how and why I pick my subjects, they are almost completely random right now. I have many personal photos that sometimes become paintings, but in the case of the fox, I used a website called Paint My Photo. Photographers upload their photographs and give permission for artists to use them as reference material. I have several files of images that I like saved and when I need a subject I just go and look through them until one them says, “paint me, paint me!”

Eventually I plan on doing more series and maybe have some deeper thoughts added in, but for now, under my current situation, I just paint random things that make my heart sing a little. I am drawn to the non-human creatures. You get direct and honest feedback from animals as long as you learn their language. Laid back ears on a horse, a donkey or a llama is a warning that they are not happy. A certain twitch of a tail will tell you the same thing about a cat.

I will digress a moment and tell you a quick story. Our horse Cinder is an absolute sweetie and everyone who meets him loves him, BUT he quickly gets bored and finds mischief. Day before yesterday I watched him pester our horse, Asher. Asher is the Alpha here and was trying to nap, but Cinder wouldn’t let him. Everytime Asher dosed off, Cinder poked him with his nose or nipped at him. Asher finally got fed up and chased him off. I thought that was the end of it.

Yesterday morning I was walking the dog before dawn and noticed Cinder standing in the pasture alone while the other equine were in a group by the barn. I told DH that it looked like Cinder had been excommunicated. He said, “funny you should mention that, something happened between Asher and Cinder last night after feeding.” He went on to explain that when he let them out of their stalls after their supper there was no usual calm strolling out of the barn. Instead Asher immediately threw his head (dominate posturing) and chased Cinder out of the barn, nipping at his rear.

It seems that Cinder’s antics had gotten on everyone’s last nerve and he was temporarily kicked out of the heard for a day. I was in the barn last night for feeding and Cinder wouldn’t even come into the barn. He’s usually the first one in. It took some persuading on DH’s part to herd Cinder into his stall and those big, brown eyes were very sad and confused. Things seem to be better today. Like I said, animals keep it honest and direct. Cinder will probably behave better now…for a while anyway.

Now back to the fox. I’m painting this fox today and I kept getting a glare from the overhead light on my reference photo. Then I couldn’t get my canvas to stay still. Did I mention that I’m now painting on our guest bed? Only slightly better than trying to paint on my lap in the living room. I can only use acrylics right now because I have no where to let paintings dry if I use oils. I have a love/hate relationship with acrylics and after using oils this summer I am finding the fast drying time of acrylics very irritating. All those feathers and fur I’ve been painting lately would probably be easier with oils.

Attic studio in progress

I am SO ready to get to work in my attic. I daydream of having my easel set up ALL THE TIME. Lighting that I can control. Tables I can leave my mess on and not have to clean up to eat dinner or have a guest over. Supplies that I know where they are and not have to hunt through a dozen mystery boxes.

“When will your attic be done?” you ask. I have no idea. This is where we are right now. I started priming the drywall last week, but I haven’t quite finished and I can’t set up my easel until that overhead piece goes in, then the lighting. It’s a little bit of torture having to work one bit at a time. No, it’s a lot of torture. I have the vision, but we are no where near it yet. Sigh.

I am not going to stop doing what I’m doing. It’s taken me a lifetime to squeeze out the small amount of time I have right now to do this. I ain’t gettin’ any younger here! I will admit though that this is the most impatient I have been over something, maybe ever. You might want to say a prayer or two for DH. He has to live with me.

Have a great week!

Christel