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. 

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!

Rain and Roses

Spring is exploding all over the place and so is the To Do list here. It has been one big, busy week! We had a few days of good solid rain. Almost too much. Rivers were flooding. Luckily it stopped before things got bad. Now the grass needs mowing again. Why do we have grass?  There are better things to do with a piece of land than grow grass just to mow it down.

The bees are good so far. I am checking this weekend to see if I will need to add another box to their living space soon. 


Here is the state of my office/studio right now.  Soon to be the office/studio/guest room. I have five days to finish painting and rearranging this room. Wish me luck! 

I did finish the portraits of the grandpups and am pleased with how they turned out. It was only a few weeks ago that I was going to throw away my paint because I could not make them do what I wanted. Hopefully I have turned a corner on that.


It seems more people are trying to reduce the amount of plastic and trash in our world and we are on that journey as well as my daughter and son-in-law. She asked for some beeswax wraps so I figured out how to render some of the old beeswax and have this blob and some fabric to attempt making them. I will let you know how it goes.


And last but not least I will leave you with my roses that are starting to bloom. I LOVE SPRING!!


Next week my son graduates from college so we will be traveling and celebrating with him. I will try to get a post done, but if I don’t, you know why.

Go out and wallow in some fresh air and sunshine this week!

Signs of improvement

Hi Everyone,

Is it better that I am writing at 4:24 am this week than at 3:15 last week? Slightly.  I actually got a full 8 hours sleep night before last and felt great yesterday. The husband is slowly regaining energy zapped out of him by the flu. Yesterday we killed it in our attempt to catch up on the farm projects. 

I am almost finished with the dog portraits and will post them soon. Here is a sneak preview of their noses.


Along with the weed eating and cleaning, mowing and barn roofing yesterday, I got my new bees and installed them in the hives. 


Spring is full on and life is insanely busy for the next few weeks so my posts will be short for awhile. Thanks for hanging in here with me.  Today is major house cleaning day and we have friends coming this afternoon to pick up a load of horse manure for their garden. Guess I should try to get a little more sleep before the dog alarms go off.

Have a great week!

Current state of affairs

Hi Everyone,

It is 3:30 am and that should tell you something right there. I’m here laying in bed tapping away on my iPad with a dog draped across me. The hubby is in the living room trying to find a movie on Netflix.  Life is currently out of whack. Seriously out of whack. 

He has had a full blown case of the flu since Saturday evening. All weekend plans got skewed. Things haven’t been right really since the time change. Our schedules have been thrown off, I have had ongoing insomnia and our to do list is bearing down on us. 

My 100 day project is in jeopardy. I did ok during the week for the most part, but the weekend not so much. I may have to modify it some more and skip the weekends. There are too many things going on at the moment.  I may have to try this again in the winter when there are not so many farm demands. 

I am going to try and get back on schedule here this week. I cannot figure out why we seem to be having so much trouble with the time change this year. Personally, I wish they would stop with the whole daylight savings thing. It seems unnecessary and throws off human and animal schedules. 

I apologize for this crazy post but it is where we are at the moment.  Just in case you might be suffering from a shift in your universe, know that you are not alone. 

Hopefully by Thursday things will have stabilized.  

Wishing you a steady week! 

Backyard mayhem 

I have had three very stressful days. When you hear why, you may think “she’s been out in the sticks too long already.”

To catch my new readers up to speed, this Spring I became a newbie beekeeper.  I grew up with my Dad and Grandpa beekeeping as long as I could remember and often helped my Dad when he harvested honey. Beekeeping today is nothing like back then. I never remember Dad stressing out over his bees (for the record, he doesn’t stress about much anyway). You put a swarm of bees in a hive, then a few months later had honey. The bees did their thing and you stayed out of the way. It may not have been completely that simple but close.

Now, everything is out to get the bees. I have one hive that I have watched over this year like a newborn baby. Dad brought the new hive to me and said he thought they had been robbed (bees from another hive will take honey and food from a new or weak hive) early on. So I fed them sugar water every day until they were gathering enough nectar on their own. 

In July I saw small hive beetles and put in a trap. By September they were strong with good honey and brood (future bees). My queen seemed to be doing a great job. I started feeding them sugar water and essential oils to prevent mites (one of the major bee killers here in the U.S.).  I decided to leave them all the honey for their winter food. I was feeling good about their chances of getting through the winter.

Then came October. No more blooms. A few wet days from the hurricane. Then yellow jackets (for those of you who don’t have them, they are an evil wasp species). They started to try and sneak in the hive. Not a lot, but an ever present evil pest. I had already covered the front entrance of the hive with a wire mesh to keep out mice as the temperature fell (mice want to live in the warm hive but make their usual nasty mess). Now I stuffed the mesh with grass and leaves to reduce the space for the yellow jackets to sneak through until I could get an official entrance reducer that closes the entrance to about a one inch opening. 

Last week I left for a couple of days to visit my college girlfriends and came home to find the yellow jackets broke through the grass/leaves and were coming and going freely into the hive. NOT GOOD!

I quickly duct taped (yet another use for it) most of the entrance closed and Tuesday night got the entrance reducer at our local beekeeping meeting. I live almost an hour away from the nearest supplier and shipping on a $1 ER is about $12. Finally Wednesday morning I installed the ER, took off some unused honey racks, installed an enclosed top of the hive feeder to reduce the chance of the yellow jackets smelling the sugar water, then let out a sigh of relief to have gotten my bees safely tuck in for the winter. 

Thursday morning- 9:30 am. I take a casual stroll out to the bee yard. There I see my hive surrounded in a cloud of bees. Not yellow jackets, not my bees. From parts unknown, either a distant neighbor’s hives or feral bees, my hive has been invaded.  My little guard bees are fighting valiantly to prevent the robbers from pillaging their honey and killing the queen.  I can’t stop hundreds of bees. I run into the house and grab a sheet and a jar of sugar water.  I drape and tie and pin the sheet over the hive, trapping some robbers and my bees together, but stopping the onslaught from the cloud of bees swarming around me and the hive. I dump the sugar water in a pan away from the hive to entice the robbers away. I have done all I can do and can only stand, watch and listen to the battle go on. It is heartbreaking.

At dusk, when all good and bad bees go home, I untied the sheet, dreading what I will find. A pile of dead bees are on top of the hive. I suspect a battle to the death between good and evil. A couple of bee bodies on the ledge and a couple of guard bees dragging a dead body out of the hive.  

Some frantic research on my part revealed I should close down the entrance to one bee size hole and rub Vicks Vapor Rub around the entrance. As I am doing this, one brave, but I’m sure, exhausted guard bee thought I was another invader and stung me. She survived all that then died trying to keep me away. It’s the only sting I have gotten from my bees and yes, I cried over her death. 

I was miserable all evening. I could not open up the hive to see how bad the damage was or see if the queen was dead or alive. I knew the robbers would be back today and yes they were. I got a jump on them, had the hive covered with the sheet before they arrived. There were not as many today. I called my Dad for advice. He told me to keep them closed up, but give them more food at night. They should be ok for a few days like that and hopefully will make a new queen if the existing one was killed. All may not be lost, but I am bracing myself for the worst. 

We have not had rain here for almost two months. Wildfires are burning in our mountains. I would ask again, like last week, pray for rain and while you are at it, plant some flowers for the bees. They need all the help they can get. 

My son will be home next week for Thanksgiving so a post here may not happen so I will have more time with him.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my U.S. readers. Have a wonderful week everyone else. 

For your viewing pleasure 

Hi Everyone!

I just want to start off by saying how very grateful I am that the election is behind us. I’m not getting into a political statement, but am hoping the worst of the ugliness is behind us. I miss the days when politics and religion were considered inappropriate subjects for conversation and were limited to discussion among family only. Everyone seems to want kindness and understanding and yet dissolve into name calling and tirades. It is just a sad state of affairs.

Moving on to more pleasant things, I thought after last week’s complaining about my painting skills I would do some research. If you haven’t read some of my earlier posts, I should warn you that I am a huge YouTube fan. Actually, I use YouTube as my general TV watching. 

In case you want some instruction to build your skills I am giving you some of my favorite YouTube channels to check out.

Painting, drawing, good advice: I have been following Lachri Fine Art for a while now. I watched and re-watched several of her videos this week. 

Other art sites: I just found these two. Jason Morgan-Wildlife Art and Christopher Lovell. Christopher’s art is very dark and generally not what I am into, but his drawing skills are amazing. Since I tend to love the details I enjoy watching him work. Jason does lovely wildlife paintings, offers reference photos, reviews products and give instruction.  Check out Colour In Your Life for interviews with artists in Australia and New Zealand. 

Here are some of my other non-art related favorite channels (links not included because I’m running out of time this morning): Yoga with Adriene, FitnessBlender, Don The Fat Bee Man and FernDog Training. Trust me, there are many more but my time is limited and I need to save some for later posts.

Here is what is on the drawing board this week. I thought using orange paper was a good idea when I started but WHAT WAS I THINKING? It has been a challenge.


We are experiencing a very dry Fall here. Enjoy the view, but do a rain dance for us please. Our mountains are on fire as I write this. Prayers for the folks having to evacuate their homes would be welcome as well.


Have a lovely week!

How to paint a chair…maybe. Part 3

TA DA!!!  It is finished!

Finished front
Finished front

Of course I could futz with it forever and just mess the whole thing up trying for perfect, but there is always that point where you better stop or else.

I’m pleased with the way it turned out.

Go back to here and here to see where it all started if you haven’t been following this process.  We delivered it yesterday to the store that is coordinating the event.  I will get photos of it where it will be displayed until the auction and hopefully at the auction to let you know how it all turned out. There are prizes for the People’s Choice and the chair that gets the highest bid.

Left side panel
Left side panel
Back panel
Back panel
Right side panel
Right side panel

The final part of the process was the waxing. This was my biggest concern from the beginning.  I had never used wax for chalk paint and after I used permanent marker for the outlines I began to worry about the effect the wax might have on the marker.  A permanent marker should be PERMANENT right? I have not always found that to be the case though.

The waxing begins.
The waxing begins.

And I had reason to be concerned.  As I was applying the wax I noticed some smearing occurring so I immediately stopped rubbing the wax in and began dabbing it instead to work it into the groves and texture of the fabric.

This does not look good.
This does not look good.

I thought that was the worst of it UNTIL the next morning when I found this going on in some places!! His face was NOT supposed to look like that.

He did not look like this the day before!
He did not look like this the day before!

I had used two different types of markers. One bled, one did not.  The problem was and still is that I don’t know which one bled.  So, if you try this out please do a test first with your markers and wax.

So, I spent another two and a half hours doing touch up on the chair! I have yet to do a major project that does not have some crisis moment involved.

I then left the chair for two days to see if any more bleeding would occur.  I did not notice anything major when it left here yesterday, but I will be checking on it before the auction to see if I need to pack up my touch up paint and do a little work on it before September 26th.  It has been like a child leaving home that you aren’t 100% sure is ready to be on it’s own.

Overall though I had a great time with this project and probably will try painting another chair.  I will test the markers and wax before a major time investment if I use them again.  The wax did soften the feel of the painted fabric to a more leather-like consistency. It was comfortable to sit in and hopefully the wax adds some protection against stains.

I will post the results of the auction after September 26th and let you know how it all turns out.

What a crazy month May has been

I didn’t realize how cram packed full May has been until I started working on this post. Here is what has been going on:
Garden planted

Garden 1

My daughter’s wedding was May 10th.  Beautiful but exhausting.

Wedding 1wedding 2

And I ran and finished my first 5K.

5K

I have my Etsy shop, BloomtownStudio (https://www.etsy.com/shop/BloomtownStudio) up and running now.  Hopefully I will have the link to it on here soon for one click shopping.

Back soon.  Take care.