No good deed…

Hi Everyone,
I hope your week has gone well.

Mine has been, uh, difficult…no, hurtful.

I write this blog every week for several reasons. It’s a way for me to look back and track my progress with my artwork, it’s a journal of sorts about my life in particular and it is a place to speak to experiences we all have as human beings.

This week, this quote came to mind.

“No good deed goes unpunished.”

by Clare Luce Boothe

Why does it seem that when life is at its most stressful people take the opportunity to be the most hurtful? You try to do the right thing in life and take on monumental responsibilities while trying to carry on semi-normal life and what you find coming at you is not support, but arrows of criticism, gossip and actions taken behind your back that in no way help the situation?

I was raised to be a nice person. In spite of all the good I was told it would do me, I cannot truthfully say that it has. Often while I have been trying to take into consideration other people’s feelings those very people have not returned the courtesy. My trust is betrayed by those I thought I could trust. It has happened time and time again. I should know better by now.

Danny and I are in a row boat in an ocean of complication that has a history and backstory the depth of the Mariana Trench, yet people who have only a cupful of knowledge about the situation keep gossiping and throwing stones and making waves. It does not take our focus off our true priority which is the well being of another human being, but it makes the journey cold and miserable.

I am truly and deeply thankful for real friends and family that regularly call, text or hug us and tell us we are doing a good job and they are there for us. Those are the rays of sunshine that mean so much. We are navigating difficult waters. Decisions we make that people might not understand very well may be for a long term reason, not the short term.

I find some peace in simple things right now. Picking beans in the cool morning, watching Danny training a horse, knitting a pair of socks and laughing at someone’s silly joke over dinner as we forge a new family. We are tough people. We have survived worse. All of us.

May you find yourself surrounded by those who shine light, not cast shadows.

 

Photo credit
Tim Marshall

Life has gone to the dogs!

Hi Everyone!

Hope your August is off to a great start. It’s hard to believe that school will be starting soon and summer will be over.

I got a quick visit from my son this week and his new puppy, Rainey. What a cutie and he is just as laid back about life as Arden is. 


This week has been all about dog training. My dog, Kato, has become a Master Trainer over the year.  He has managed to turn my fearful other dog, Odie, into an almost well adjusted dog.  Kato has taught both of my daughter’s dogs a good dose of social skills in the limited time they have visited and he taught Rainey the fine art of tug this week. Kato is also Master Tugger and never loses that game. Kato lives for the tug!


During all the dog chaos I decided we should go ahead and bring Miss L’s dog, Dinah, into the mix.  Odie does not easily make friends and has had difficulty dealing with small dogs in particular. Now why would I do this you ask?  I have learned that when Odie is overwhelmed with new people and/or dogs he just gives up his bravado and hunkers down to watch the insanity around him.  Dinah is too small to continue living outside, especially out here where she would be considered a snack for some of the wildlife. 

Like most small dogs, Dinah makes up with attitude what she lacks in size.  After three days of being inside with two big dogs she has essentially convinced them she is a force to be reckoned with. Though she is slowly warming up to them, all she has to do is show her little teeth and both dogs retreat to the safety of the sofa.  This morning though, she seems to be allowing Kato to be in her personal space more and is taking some interest in playing with him. Hopefully in about a month I can post a picture of all three dogs happily snuggled on the sofa. Of course, I will need to find a new place to sit. Now if we can get her properly house trained. Miss L is learning all about doggy parenthood and the responsibility that is involved in proper care and training of a pet. 

Other than visiting with my son, lots of home cooking while he was here, and wall to wall dogs, I managed to finish the commissioned drawing of the barn. All done and delivered to its new home!  This is one of THE MOST DETAILED drawings I have ever done. If you have seen my work in the past you know that is saying a lot. 


My clients wanted to have the details of the old construction and the old boards plus some of the surroundings. The finished size was 16″ x 20″. I’m very surprised it did not take me longer. I gave up trying to keep up with hours. 

Since I do not have much space right now to work, I think I am going to concentrate on drawings but want to add some color without dragging out lots of paint. Some experimentation is in order I believe. 

The upcoming week may very well turn into another crazy, on the road week. I am supposed to be getting some of he legal paperwork I need and there is school shopping and soccer sign ups to do.  Hopefully I will get to check in but forgive me if it doesn’t happen.

Have an awesome week! 

Beans, barns, bees and boredom

Hi Everyone!

How has your July been? Do you feel summer winding down? It has been hot and miserable here for the past couple of weeks. Midday is spent inside. 

This week we decided to enjoy a good dose of boredom around here. Last week was an awful mess of traveling to appointments that resulted in nothing more than frustration, disappointment and stress. Now it’s a waiting game for the attorney and government entities to accomplish something so we can move forward. Boredom has been a good tonic.

Our garden is producing high levels of green beans this year and the tomatoes are putting forth a good effort. Miss L got to try her hand at picking beans. I’m pretty sure she enjoyed it about as much as I did at her age. She also got to see the canning process while Danny canned the first 14 quarts of beans. She was keeping track of the pops the jar lids made as they sealed. We are also consuming green beans frequently at meals.  Last night’s dinner was green beans, potatoes, creamed corn, fresh tomatoes and biscuits. It just doesn’t get any better than that!!

I have been checking on my bees more and feeding them now that most of the blooms are gone. My goal is to get at least two hives through the winter this year. It’s sad to admit that, but with colony losses of 40-50% on average each year now in most places in the United States, you have to brace yourself and hope for the best. I have one hive I’m already concerned over and keeping a close eye on. 

Our keets are having issues. We have lost three of the 16 and have 2 more that aren’t doing well. After some research we think there is a possible vitamin deficiency so Miss L and I made an emergency grocery run for wheat germ and vitamin E this morning. Hopefully that will help. 

It seems like a combination of heat and boredom are making our hens cranky. They can’t free range anymore due to the Thing In The Thicket that has snatched a couple of their coop mates. They seem to be protesting with a decrease in egg prodution. 

I am almost done with the barn drawing commission. I hope to have the finished picture on here next week.  Sooooo close but I can’t show it to you before I show it to my clients.  The boredom and heat have allowed me the time to put in several concentrated hours on it. 

We have enjoyed walks, time with the dogs, cat and some crafty time this week.  Danny has been able to work with Bob several evenings. Books have been read, movies watched, etc.  It has been GOOD!  Next week could get crazy again and August will bring school shopping, soccer and school faster than I’m ready for. I’m going to enjoy one more weekend of “boredom”. 

Hope you find some boredom this week! 

Bits and pieces

Hi Everyone,

Believe it or not, I am actually writing AHEAD of time this week!  That sounds good, but primarily it is because I have yet another day of appointments tomorrow when I normally write my posts.

We need a copy of Miss L’s birth certificate and social security number before we can get all her requirements for health insurance, school and soccer done.  So part of tomorrow will be doing that and the other part will be meeting with the attorney to get the final papers done for me to be the executor and finally get started on the estate.

Ok, a soap box moment…if you do not have your final affairs in order, especially if you have children, STOP right now, GO make an appointment with an attorney and GET THIS STUFF DONE!  I don’t care if you think you are never going to die,  JUST DO IT!  No one should be left behind to go through the mess that we are having to work through.  This could have turned out so much worse for Miss L.  You do not want to leave your children to “the system”.  I doubt you would want to leave your possessions and affairs to “the system” either.  GO DO IT NOW!  Ok, enough of that.

I have a good start on this commissioned barn drawing.  If only I could find a few hours in a row for about three days, I could call it finished, but my days are broken into bits and pieces until late evening so it is taking longer than I would like.  I am pleased with the way it’s turning out, but frustrated with the broken time.


On a brighter note, the disappearing Sweetie Pie (the cat) has reappeared and seems to be transitioning into a barn cat quite nicely.  We still have to get her wrangled to the vet and get her spayed before we wind up with 25 barn cats, but it was good to see her again and know she was ok.  Miss L was especially relieved and goes out to spend time with Sweetie Pie each day.


Our 16 guinea fowl keets are thriving in our bathroom.  We have had them for a week now under a heat lamp. By this weekend we should be able to turn off the heat lamp and just leave them in the bathroom without the AC blowing on them.  Danny will be especially happy to turn that heat lamp off.  It’s like a full time sauna in there.  I will have to find them a taller box soon too.  They are almost able to jump out now.  Guinea’s are known for their excitability.  Can I just empathize that “excitability” is an understatement?  They totally freak out every time you move and at every noise.  How they just don’t drop dead from a heart attack is beyond me.  Soon they will be adding their well known loud alarm calls to the freak out.  I hope we have them outside before that kicks in!


Bob, the horse, still isn’t taking to the saddle outside of the round pen.  The discussion is turning to what to do if we can’t get Bob trained into a trail horse.  He is bred to be a Western Pleasure horse and that may be what he has to go and do somewhere else.  I’m very partial to the crazy horse and don’t really want to think about not having him around.

All other critters, including the bees are doing fine. No honey this first year, but the hives seem healthy and growing.  The next three months are critical so I will be paying close attention to my bee colonies now that the honey flow is over.

That’s all the news from Green Acres (if you don’t know Green Acres then go check it out on YouTube) this week.  Hope all is well in your world.  Have an awesome week!

Death, taxes and CHANGE

Hi Everyone,

Yes, it happened again. My post day got away from me last week. I did start it, but before I could finish the day was gone and we were well into a busy weekend.

We are slowly settling into new routines all around.  Mine seems to be the biggest struggle right now because of the overwhelming amount of paperwork and appointments I have to make in the process of settling J’s estate and getting Miss L’s benefits and other life stuff in place. Yesterday was an entire day of driving to different meetings only to arrive home late in the evening feeling like I only made two tiny drops of progress in a ocean of red tape.  

Danny and Miss L have worked out a complex schedule for who gets to sit in the King Chair (the recliner with the best view…outside to watch horses for Danny, the TV for Miss L) what day. I just stay out of that whole thing. They seem to enjoy the debate process!

The food buying and meal planning is also under adjustment. Our health nut food ways are not completely pleasing Miss L. She has the family genetics for an amazing metabolism and she does not waver on her likes and dislikes. I am compromising on allowing some junk food and she is attempting to try new food. I will admit that I have missed Kraft Deluxe Mac & Cheese. 

Sweetie Pie, the cat, had been stuck in confinement while awaiting her spaying surgery. Unfortunately that was not sitting very well with her and she jumped at the chance for escape while Miss L and Danny were cleaning her crate. The surgery appointment got cancelled and we are hoping that the now invisible Sweetie Pie does not appear in the future with a crate load of kittens. 

Princess Dinah, the dog, it adjusting very well and we are slowing introducing her to my pups. She will be getting her surgery next month and if the budget allows, a professional haircut. Her Princess title isn’t matching her wild child look at the moment. 


The chickens have had to give up the free range life as the Thing In The Thicket has increased its chicken consumption. We lost two of our little girls in the past two weeks. There will be an upgraded chicken coop in the Fall. 

Our oldest horse, Christy, carried her last rider this week when she gave Miss L her first riding lesson. Christy’s hip is causing her lots of pain so Danny decided to let her enjoy a rider free retirement. Now Bob is in major training to take over Christy’s job. 

I believe the quote about death and taxes needs to be changed to, “the only thing you can count on in life is death, taxes and CHANGE.”  Lots of change sometime. None of it bad here, just different and all of the elements of the quote are in play with our changes. A death brought about the changes and those darn taxes will be paid at the end of all the paperwork!

I have gotten a good start on a commission piece and hope to show at least some of it next week if not the finished piece.

Embrace the changes this week!

Life Revised

Hi Everyone,

Sorry I was MIA for a couple of weeks. Life is never a straight smooth road and ours took a very sharp turn last week.

After a long battle with a progressive disease, my sister-in-law lost her war last Thursday. The week leading up to that had been an EXTREMELY intense and stressful one for Danny and me.  My SIL left this world never acknowledging the fact her death was imminent and there is now a big ball of tangled affairs left for us to unravel. 

We currently have temporary custody of her ten year old daughter and are seeking full custody.  Today I turn our newly remodeled guest room into a tween girl’s room. And I thought I had survived the last teenage driver this past year after my bonus daughter got her drivers license.  Someone please tell me that I will not be teaching a teenager to drive when I am 70!!

As you can imagine, we are stressed, sleep deprived, behind on work and hoping we will not be racking up anymore attorney fees. Bear with me as we all transition into a new life. Didn’t I just do that last year?  There may be more skipped blog weeks as I do the executor legwork for my SIL’s affairs and get a grieving little girl settled into an completely different life. Prayers and good thoughts are appreciated. 

Spend some extra time with your family this week.

Crisis mode

Hi Everyone, 

We are dealing with a family crisis at the moment. The situation could take several weeks. I will be back as soon as I can. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we go through this crisis. Thank you. 

Back Story – Just Bob

Hi Everyone!

Hope you had a great week.  I think last week’s post did not get published. Must have been a tech issue because I wrote it and hit the publish button. My apologies. Guess you will be seeing that next week.

We finally got all the garden planted and can now relax a little until the veggies start coming in.  We also added new members to the farm this past week.  Here are the new little future egg layers.  Danny didn’t think 2-3 eggs a day was enough for us.  We do eat plenty of eggs, but most days we are fine.  On heavy cooking days or when the kids come home to visit, well, we almost have to make a grocery store run for eggs.  The new girls are supposed to be heavy layers, so now we will probably be selling eggs when production sets in.


Last week I showed you a couple of paintings I had finished.  I thought I would give you Bob’s back story today.  I have mentioned him often on this blog because he is Mr. Personality and Mr. Mischief combined.

My husband, Danny, has worked with, trained, owned horses most of his life.  Several years ago there was an elderly neighbor that had reached the point where he was struggling to take care of his horses and asked Danny if he would come help him.  Of course Danny said yes.

When Danny got there he was helping feed and clean up the barn.  I don’t have a clear visual of exactly where Danny found Bob, but somewhere on the property this small yearling had gotten into a place that the elderly gentleman could not reach and was literally down to skin and bones when Danny discovered him.  Realizing that the horse needed immediate attention and not wanting to hurt the gentleman’s dignity, Danny asked if it would be ok to take Bob back to his farm and look after him there and the gentleman could come get him or visit him any time he wanted.  The elderly man told Danny that the horse had been purchased by his wife, who had passed, because Bob was from very good western quarter horse bloodlines. Of course the gentleman never asked for Bob back and passed away a couple of years later.

Danny has been trying to get Bob trained now for at least five years, but life keeps getting in the way.  We are pretty sure that if he ever gets trained he will be an awesome trail horse.  Obviously by this painting, Bob is no longer underweight.  He is a big guy with a big personality and too smart for his own good. Full of curiosity, Bob has become a Houdini horse and somehow gets his big butt out of the fence without breaking it (though he has a history of running through them) and we usually can’t find where he escaped from.

Bob will carry off your tools when you are working in the barn or pasture.  He has chewed paint off the side of my stepson’s truck.  He figured out how to open the pasture gate and let the other horses loose twice in 24 hours before we realized how they were getting out.  Then we wired the gate shut and Bob stood there and loosened the bolts on the other side of the gate with his lips!!  He has knocked the lid off my beehive in his attempt to see what was inside and froze my bees.  Lately, he has found joy in taking his big head and bulldozing through the chickens to watch them run.  I swear you can see him grin when he does it!

Did I mention he is my favorite of the horses here?  Don’t tell the others please.  Yes, he is a royal pain in the rear and I have called him several other names besides “Bob”, but he always has that big ‘ole head stuck out wanting a scratch or rub.  He is the one that always comes up to you as you walk in the pasture and will often walk with you to see where you are going.  As Danny says, ” there isn’t a mean bone in that horse’s body.”

Bob makes me laugh and he makes me cuss, but on the couple of days that I struggled this past year in adjusting to my new life in the country, it was Bob that provided some horse therapy and let me lean on his big side, hug his neck and nibbled on my hand and did that mysterious thing that horses do when they somehow make things better by just being, Just Bob.  And that my friends, is the title of this painting of my friend Bob. Just Bob.

Ok, now I have gotten all choked up.  There will be more paintings of Bob because he likes to model and he needs a job.

Have a great week!

 

All photographs and artwork property and copyright of Christel Huttar.

Sudden Insights, This and That

Hi Everyone!

I wrote the Sudden Insights part of this post a couple of week ago but for some reason it only showed up on my Facebook page.  I’m adding to it this week.  My apologies for the wonkyness.

May 26, 2017: Sudden Insights

Who else is living through monsoon season? We had tornados yesterday in three counties including where my family lives and where we live. We are all safe and unscathed, but there were places with extensive damage. I have not heard of any injuries, but I would be not  be surprised if there were some. Most bad weather you have some time to prepare, but tornadoes are not so kind. I once had a tree go through my bedroom. I still get edgy during a storm thirty years later.

Thanks to a combination of monsoon weather (no gardening can be done in this relentless rain), a holiday week (before the long Memorial Day weekend) and one of my major suppliers moving their location (closed all week) I have had some extra time on my hands. Nope, as tempting as it is, I have not been napping. I have been painting and drawing.

After last week’s post about working on portraits I found myself very stressed and frustrated with the progress on those. In the wee hours of the night (my usual insomnia) I asked myself, “What do you REALLY like to do?”.  I looked at my past work and my Pinterest boards where I save artwork by other people that I like and am inspired by. 

Here is what I discovered:

I definitely do not like doing landscapes. I couldn’t find a single FINISHED landscape in all my past piles of work. Sketches, yes. Started paintings, yes. Other artists’ landscapes, yes. Finished work of my own? No. I have done buildings and house portraits but landscapes of sweeping vistas. No.  Clearly I need to just let that one go unless somewhere in the future I get struck with some sudden change in direction. I will just enjoy the views I see and the beautiful work by other people. 

Portraits of people cause me a great deal of stress.  Commissions especially, but even painting my own kids was stressful. Human faces are so subtle in their detail. A slight deviation of an eyebrow or curve of a lip changes a person into someone else.  It is especially hard to work from photos. So much detail is lost with bad lighting. Kudos to portrait painters who can do a true likeness from photos alone. If I were a portrait artist I would have to require in person sittings at least during part of the process.  The fact that my portraits have all been children or pets compounds the problem. It is a waste of time to try and get either to sit still!  All of my work has had to be with photographs, thus the stress to get it right. 

I won’t say that I will stop doing portraits because they make me dig deep to see, test and hone my skills and work on my patience level, but I think I will limit what I take on knowing how much stress they cause.  There have been times when I have had several right before Christmas and that was not fun.  

So what the heck do I like? THINGS! Seems I might be a still life painter.  Looking at past work and picking out the ones I got the most joy out of were things. Things in nature to be exact. Seashells, gourds, deer skulls, etc.  I like animals too and odd manmade things, particularly with rust involved.  I knew I had hit on something when my brain started popping out ideas like popcorn.  

I guess that all these years I never stopped to analyze what I really enjoyed. My time with pencils or paint was so limited I just jumped at the chance to do SOMETHING.  If you do creative stuff, you know there is such a joy to the process that you crave the time to spend doing it. Music, art, sewing, pottery, etc. is all an encompassing process that takes you out of normal life and into some other realm.  Now that I have some insight I can work accordingly. I can’t say plan accordingly because I rarely plan what my next project will be.  They seem to choose themselves! 

Here are a couple of things I have been working on this rainy week. My first horse painting is finished! Trust me, that is a big leap. 

I need to get back to the easel. Next week the weather clears up and we will probably have to use machetes to weed the garden. There will also be new additions to the farm this coming week that I will introduce you to. Wouldn’t it be horrible to get bored?! Not going to happen around here anytime soon!


June 9, 2017:  This and That

This week is one of those weeks that is hard to describe.  We have enjoyed several lovely evenings outside watching crazy chicken antics, various and assorted wildlife and birds and fun visits with the neighbors.  On the other hand it has involved either learning of the passing of friends’ parents or knowing that several are friends are in the final days or hours with a parent. Days of alternating joy and sadness.

My son is in his second week of his Iceland trip and currently offline in the wilderness there.  My daughter finished her last year of teaching and is transitioning to a new career. Danny and I will celebrate our 1st anniversary.  The ebb and flow of life.

I sought the comfort of my pencils this week with this fish drawing.  After the intensity of my Bob painting last week I needed the meditative process of drawing to ponder life’s changes. 

My thoughts and prayers are with my friends and children as they navigate endings and new beginnings. My thoughts and prayers are with any of you going through the same turbulent waters.

Peace be with you this week.

I’m doing it! 

Hi Everyone!

Lots of To Do’s have been done around here this week. We finished a shelf for the bathroom, more work on the barn, garden and yard, ordered new tires for my car (yuck) and today we will be getting up hay (double yuck).  Life as usual. So how are things in your world going?

I won’t blather on this week, but I am patting myself on the back a little.  Now that I have some time back to call my own and knowing next week will be a slow work week thanks to Memorial Day weekend and one of my printing suppliers being closed, I jumped into the BIG scary stuff. 

Over the years I have drawn many portraits in pencil and charcoal, but if I painted portraits it was back when I used crayons. Even during college I don’t remember any of my art classes requiring painted portraits. Lots of drawings of people, but no paintings. 

After completing the grandpup paintings I have been feeling a little more confident as my skills with acrylic paints have started to return. In case you are wondering, I do not use oil paints. I don’t like dealing with the solvents and I have no patience with all the drying time involved. I appreciate them and love the blend-ability, but that is where my love for them ends. I may try them again one day and change my mind, but I’m not there yet. 

So, this week I drug out some photos of my kids in the early years and have jumped into portrait painting.  These are still works in progress and there have been several moments of total frustration. I realized today that my easel was turned the wrong way. Once I situated it where the natural light was on the painting life got much better.  Don’t you hate those slap yourself moments? 

Honestly, it is freaking terrifying! I think painting my own kids was a bad decision. I know their faces so well and the events and emotions tied up in these that it makes them harder to paint than someone I don’t know. My next attempts will be of strangers. Do not be surprised if I ditch these and redo them in the future. Overall though I’m getting the feel for this process and I’m not hating these paintings. Practice, practice, practice!


Have a great week and go do something terrifying!