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! 

Deer skulls and chicken stews

Yesterday I realized we are only a week and a half from our annual family chicken stew.  Until recently I thought everyone, at least everyone in the South, had chicken stews.  After a recent news article, I discovered that chicken stews are very regional events.  Without involving recipes (a point of contention at times), a chicken stew is held in the Fall.  Chicken is usually cooked in a large cast iron pot (another point of contention at times) into a stew, obviously.  It requires a large gathering of people bringing large quantities of food to accompany the chicken stew.  Weather permitting, it is best held outside and involves a bonfire or fire in a fire pit. Alcohol is often involved, though we tend to skip that part here.

So, I am now in panic mode to get all the cleaning, organizing and yard work done before next weekend.  I am a firm believer that a party should be held at your home at least once a year.  Not that I am big entertaining sort of person, but for the top to bottom cleaning that gets done. After this coming week my Fall cleaning will be done and I can go into Winter content until Spring. I will be exhausted, but content.

This week I sat down and took on a drawing project that I have been wanting to do for a couple of years now.  I have also been procrastinating for a couple of years because I didn’t think I could pull it off.

I found a deer skull in the woods. Not an unusual event here.  We find all kinds of animal skeletons laying around.  Maybe the skull is kind of creepy, but it had so many interesting nooks and cracks and shadows begging to be drawn. Finally I forced myself to focus and see if I could still draw the way I could way back in high school.  Here is the finished piece.

deer-skull-drawing

I have been doing a little happy dance.  This may be my best drawing ever.  It took constant self discipline to slow down and not rush the process. I have had to rush most of the work I have done in the past 25 years.  Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines breathe down my neck constantly.  You expect that with graphic design, but even with commissioned artwork most of the time there is a deadline.  The client has come up with the idea, usually, almost TOO close to the time they need it. Birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, etc.

It was an absolute pleasure to know I could take as long as I needed to do this drawing.  I did not want to put it away and come back to it though.  That is how things find themselves in the permanent Unfinished Projects file.  I have a draw full of those already.  Estimated time for this was probably around ten hours over three days. While it made me very happy, that much focus has worn me out. There will be at least a week and a half break before I take on another big project. Ha, just in time to do that chicken stew cleaning!

Have a wonderful week.  If by chance, you don’t see a post from me next week, you will know that I am scrubbing, dusting, washing or organizing something.

 

Old Bones

My latest project got delivered last week, just in time for Halloween.  This guy was so much fun.

IMG_2620

If you have been reading my blog you know I recently donated an art chair to a charity event.  If you haven’t been following you can catch up here.  This chair was a commission that came from the event.  It will be a gift for someone who LOVES Halloween.

The chair was another of my “storage stash”.  My client gave me complete freedom to come up with something Halloweeny.  I considered a Frankenstein or zombie, but when I pulled the chair out of my storage unit it just pretty much screamed “skeleton”.  Here is the chair before I went to work on it. white chair 1

It is a good thing that I work in solitude.  I’m sure people would be concerned about the crazy lady sitting and staring at a chair.  That is how it starts. I just sit and stare or walk around the chair conjuring up designs in my head.

I enjoy the fun of Halloween, but am not one to watch horror movies or read Stephen King novels.  Try as I may (and I don’t really try), there will not be gore in my work.  The zombie idea went out the window pretty quickly for that reason alone.  Finally I jumped in with a good coating of white chalk paint and then sketched out the skull and rib cage.

The black is done in enamel.  After everything was painted I had take some more sitting and staring time.  Did I leave it stark black and white or did it need a glaze?

Painting finished but unglazed.
Painting finished but unglazed.

 

I am a learn by doing person, so I decided to try a black glaze that I had never tried to do before.  The worst that could happen would be having to repaint a few areas if it was not looking good.  Jump in and swim!  I started with the legs where there were no details that would have to be repainted.  There were more moments of sitting and staring to determine if the look was going to be what I wanted.  Finally I glazed the seat and back.  If you try this, be prepared to get some exercise.  Work in a small area at a time, then rub off the glaze where you want the color to show through more.  I had to do lots of detail rubbing around the ribs, spine and teeth to get the effect I wanted.  I also sanded a few places lightly where the black was heavier than I wanted.  Finally I applied three light coats of spray clear polyurethane to protect it.

Detail of the legs unglazed and glazed
Detail of the legs unglazed and glazed

I was pleased with how Old Bones came out and had a great time designing it.  It was about a 12 hour project.  Much shorter than the 40+ hours the Doves & Daisies chair took.  Now I’m looking for my next chair project. I have a wingback chair in my stash that might get the treatment but I have to get through the holidays first.

Old Bones all finished and ready for his new home.
Old Bones all finished and ready for his new home.

Have a wonderful week.  Next week I will let you know how my horse skills are going.

 

Summer crazy

Isn’t summer supposed to be when life slows down a little? If so, I need to rethink my scheduling. I have a commissioned piece going (I can’t show you that one until after Christmas), my two everyday jobs, a donation piece in the works (more about that below), a HUGE pile of stuff I want to finish and get on my Etsy shop before the holiday shopping season starts and I’m trying to visit my kids one more time before their schools start up again. I’m running out of time!!

August garden

Top off that list with all the garden harvest that has to be canned (all those peas have to be shelled first) and I’m wondering when I will sleep in the next couple of weeks. I DO NOT look forward to winter, but am looking forward to eating all this food instead of growing it, hoeing it, picking and canning it.

Now, more about this…

Old Chair
Lovely isn’t it? Well, it probably was 35-40 years ago, but it has seen some life since then. I wish I had a photo of it before I painted it. Yes, I painted it. It was frayed and didn’t match anything I owned. It was a hand-me-down piece to begin with. It is solid and sturdy. In my mind, too good to get rid of but I didn’t have it in the budget to upholster it or even slip cover it. If only I had had my new sewing machine back then I might not have taken a paint brush to it.

So, why am I showing you my pitiful chair? Because now I am going to turn it into a beautiful art chair (I hope) to be auctioned off at a fundraiser for our local women’s shelter. I will keep you updated. Wish me luck!

What I did in November

Now that the holidays are over and the cards have gone out, I wanted to show you what I did in November.
Town Christmas

This was the artwork for the Town of Kernersville Christmas card this year.  Thank you TOK!!!

Those of you from around here will recognize the entrance to the town on Main Street and Cherry Street.  This was a challenge for several reasons.  First, it was a fairly short deadline.  I think it was less than three weeks including a sketch for approval. The horse and carriage are white metal that have white lights around the edges at night.  All these years of drawing and painting and this was the first night scene I’ve done.  I didn’t want it to be just a black background either so I had to work on some color that would still make sense.

When I went out after dark to photograph the entrance for reference I discovered something else.  The Kernersville sign is NOT illuminated at night!  Heck, I always thought it was!  I also had to do some “landscaping” to raise the sign above the horse and carriage.  I put that “Creative License” they gave me in college to use.  This was a fun assignment and I appreciate the opportunity to do it.  Yes, Town of Kernersville, I would love to do another one if you would like me to.

As a side note: I have written and scheduled this post ahead of time since I am probably recovering from some dental work today.  This has absolutely nothing to do with art, just a shameless plug for sympathy 😉

Christel