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.

Back in the saddle

Hi Everyone!

Yes, I am back.  Last week was insane trying to get everything done before leaving for my son’s graduation so I did not make it here before we left.  BUT, here he is in all of his graduation glory and I am one proud Mom!

 

I did barely manage to get the room painting finished before we had to bring back his bed and dresser.  Before with my piles of mess and After before my mess takes over again.  I need to have an art supply yard sale or a better solution would be to win the lottery and build myself a nice big studio. 



 

Now that the big event for the year is over I am SO ready to settle down and get back to work with a routine.  We planted the majority of the garden yesterday so other than the daily weeding I should have a couple of months before I have to stop for the major harvest rituals…picking, canning and freezing.  The bees are settled in though I am adding a swarm from my brother-in-law this weekend.  No more home remodeling until Fall!

 I am setting up my easel in a corner and plan to start back painting today!  For the past year I have held off taking any commission work other than a couple from my daughter.  During the graduation party there were a few inquiries about whether I would be taking any again.  After discussing it with D. on the way home we decided that, yes, it’s time.  I will be adding pet portraits to my Etsy shop hopefully this week and then as soon as I gather some sample work, add people portraits as well.   I will add the links here on the blog when I get them set up.

 I can’t tell you what a relief it is to feel like life is settling down a little and I can get back to the artwork.  My 100 Day Project fell apart, but my goal now is to get back in the saddle and finish out the rest of the summer with some steady work.  Maybe next week I will at least have a sneak peek of what is on the easel.

The flowers are blooming here on the farm and they WILL be making it onto a canvas soon.  Until then, just enjoy the May beauty!  Have a lovely week!

February. Fun or Funk?

Hi Everyone!

How is your February going?  At the moment ours has been fairly mild weatherwise.  Usually February here is our coldest month and longest and dreariest. For a 28 day month it always seems to me it is at least 60 days long.  I’m writing this on February 2nd so we will see how I’m doing by the 28th.

I did work in a little fun this week when my BFFs invited me to join them on a ski trip.  Get this…yours truly went skiing in 10 degree temperatures (wind chills around -10)!  Yes indeedy.  Here we are.  Four layers on top, three layers on bottom, two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, face mask, toboggan and goggles made this a fairly comfortable endeavor. Fresh snow, great friends and no lift lines made it awesome!

Do we look warm enough?
Do we look warm enough?

I have managed to cram a full schedule into the February.  I’m going to visit my daughter in Charleston, SC next week.  It would be lovely to have about 75 degrees while I’m there.  The next weekend I start Bee School and that will last five weekends.  Of course it is time to start on the dreaded taxes. Yuck.  I am working on the bathroom remodeling and need to get new bee hives to put together and paint before bees arrive in April.  I have a list of sewing I want to do and last, but not least, I am working, working, working on new artwork.  Hopefully all this will get me through winter without going into my usual funk.

Many of you who read this blog are creative people with blogs of your own, artwork, writing, etc.  I would love to have your help and advice as I throw myself into my artwork and try to get it out into the world.

I am in the process of writing an Artist Statement.  When I read these at show openings I often find them dry and academic.  In other words…boring.  I suspect that is because they are just darn hard to write.  How do you write about yourself without sounding either conceited or weird?  I would like mine to explain why I create stuff and what it’s about without being boring, conceited or weird.  The challenge at the moment is just to figure out why I create stuff and what it’s about!  I am open to suggestions and would love to read yours or someone’s you think did a good job with theirs.

Do you sell work online?  If so, pointers on Titles, Descriptions and Tags would also be appreciated.  Creating art is not nearly as hard as writing all these things.  I am currently on Etsy, Fine Art America and now Red Bubble and Art Pal (still working on this one in case you don’t find much).  If you want to take the time to check these out and send me a critique, I will be happy to listen.

I am not sure what to do with my Etsy shop.  In my attempts to minimalize my life and stuff I am finding that keeping inventory is a royal pain, not to mention shipping.  The print-on-demand stores are very convenient and after the time involved in shipping, probably gives about the same return on investment.  Oh well, it’s there with stuff in it for the moment and I will ponder the future of it as I go along.

Please join in the conversation.  I have been writing this blog for a few years now and it’s lonely out here.  It is time that I heard from more of you.

Stay warm and in case I don’t get a Valentine’s Day post on here, give someone special a hug and/or kiss.  You don’t have to wait until the 14th.  Go ahead. Do it now!

Happy as a pig in mud

Hi Everyone!

All my hurricane refugees are safely back in their homes at the coast now.  Life is back to whatever normal is.  I don’t ever wish for a hurricane, but they do bring my kids home for a visit and we got some MUCH needed rain here.  North Carolina and South Carolina still have several areas dealing with severe flooding from Hurricane Matthew.  Our prayers are with them as they deal with cleanup and rebuilding.

Now for an update on my new “studio” situation.  If you are new to this crazy blog go HERE to see what I am talking about.

I do believe that each human being has gifts or talents that they are supposed to use during their time on earth.  And I guess we are supposed to be grateful for those gifts/talents because in most cases they are what brings us a sense of peace and joy even during total chaos.  I will admit that I wish I had gotten at least some skill in math and science or even a half way decent singing voice. But that is neither here nor there so I will continue on my creative way.

From the time I could hold a crayon until high school graduation I could find time to just sit, draw, paint, etc. and improve my skills.  As an art student concentrating in graphic design I began a downward spiral.  Instead of improving on my skills, I lost ground as there was less and less time to do the painting and drawing. Design does not require artist skill in the classic sense.  Enter a design career, marriage, kids, house, yard, dog, a printing company, a divorce, two jobs and teenagers and twenty-five years were gone.

In that twenty-five years I attempted to carve out time to draw and paint and sporadically managed a few paintings here and there.  I even sold work occasionally, but the time needed to seriously work and drill down and find my artistic “voice” never happened.  What I now have piled up in my storage unit are half baked pieces.  There was a good start of an idea, but never the time to really do the work right.  They were rushed to finish most of the time and lack the skill and thoughtfulness necessary to really make the good finished pieces.

Enter empty nest, a streamlined design business, a slower country style pace of life and a meat processing business with extra space and required attendance. Life, God, the Fates, have put their foot down and demanded that I get to work NOW.  And you know, it’s working!

Right now, business is slow so I have eight hours a day, three to four days a week in a building with no wifi, no tv, not even a good radio.  I have hauled most of my supplies (especially as the hurricane refugees were making their way here) over there.  And I am working and thinking and making messes and just having a blast.

Two small painting finished yesterday. The landscape one is a work in progress. Yes, that is a mouse hole on the wall and yes, it stuck it's head out to say hello this morning.
Two small painting finished yesterday. The landscape one is a work in progress. Yes, that is a mouse hole on the wall and yes, it stuck it’s head out to say hello this morning.

In my attempt at procrastination and avoidance of the cruel voices in my head (you know the ones – “you can’t do that”, “that’s just weird”, “that looks like crap”) I started out sewing stuff, but the call of paint and pencil became too strong.  The paints opened up yesterday and here is where I am today.  Basically, I am having to relearn all the stuff I used to do effortlessly in high school.  It makes me mad, but at the same time, to do what I want to do, it has to be done.

Yes, I may have one of the weirdest studios in history.  Ugly, yes, but it has good natural light during the day and I’m stuck there with myself.  So, I will carry on and see where it takes me.  God works in mysterious ways.  Who would have thunk!!?

My work area. I even have to clean up after myself every day because, well, people come in here.
My work area. I even have to clean up after myself every day because, well, people come in here.

Gotta go do some laundry and make some dinner before I head out to my evening shift at WSE (Weirdest Studio Ever).

Have a lovely week!

Happy March!

Some of my winter blues have subsided. It helped when I got these…

tulips 2and that the weather is going to do this… Spring weather

next week!  Spring is almost here.  It hasn’t been a terrible winter, but I don’t handle cold of any kind very well.  I am ready for those 70 degree days.

The flowers inspired me to start this…

tulips

 

It is still a work in progress but it was all I had time to work into the schedule this week.

Today I got the call that we have 40 boxes of tile to pick up so I have to hurry up and finish painting the room I have been working on…IMG_2802

and learn how to lay tile!

I sort of rushed through last week’s post since I was running late.  Ok, so I’m late again this week but not AS late.


 

For the moment I am going to call my little environmental section Healing Home.  I need to call it something so until I or you have a better idea that’s what I’m going with.  Did you read last week’s post?

At the beginning of each season I go through all my clothes and see what needs to go. With Spring almost here I think Spring cleaning is in order.  Today I will start with clothes.

I’m pretty sure most of us at this point probably donate our out grown or out of style clothes, but what do you do with the ones that are stained, torn or threadbare?

Here is some information about just how bad the problem has become with our textile waste.

Before you throw out the worn out clothes, stop and see if they can find a new purpose such as napkins, swiffers or un-paper towels.

Better yet, consider less clothing.  The uniform look has been a “thing” lately or you could try Project 333.  I have sort of blended both.  I am down to about 40 items of clothing (she doesn’t count underwear, socks or work out clothes in Project 333) and most of my clothes are solid colors that mix and match easily.  It is rare that I part with more than four items now in my seasonal purge.

If you are just finding my blog, this section is new and is my small way of simply making us all aware of how badly we need to clean up after ourselves.  You know, that Mom thing just never goes away even after the kids leave home!

Have a great week.  I have to go help D. load up 40 boxes of tile now!

 

 

The Devil is in the details

I believe last week I said that one of my resolutions was to limit my limitless interests so I can focus in on just a couple and give them the attention they require.  One of my other resolutions is to follow the K.I.S.S rule.  KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID!  If I ever get a real office/studio I am going to paint this on the wall in large letters.

Are you familiar with the saying “the Devil is in the details”? That phrase has been running through my mind all week.  I decided to look it up and see if my personal use is correct and where the saying comes from.  Here is what I found:

The idiom the devil is in the details means that mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Usually it is a caution to pay attention to avoid failure.

An older, and slightly more common, phrase God is in the detail means that attention paid to small things has big rewards, or that details are important.

The devil version of the idiom is a variation on the God phrase, though the exact origin of both is uncertain.”  Reference link

My personal definition of “the devil is in the details” means that I get so caught up in the details of a project that I can lose sight of what I am supposed to be trying to achieve.

A few recent examples would be:

  • While working on a logo and researching what the company does I find myself in a rabbit hole of interesting information that wanders far away from my project.
  • In the current phase of house remodeling I need to be focusing on the main priority, big ticket fixes.  What do I notice?  The small chunks of dented wood on the quarter round molding in the smallest bathroom that needs the least amount of work.  Now I see it every time I go in there and eventually I will have to fix it before something else so I will quit obsessing over it.
  • While working on this drawing of a seashell my goal was to loosen up my drawing and focus more on the mood than the technical details.  As always, I got so caught up in the tiniest of details I finally just had to put it away.  shell drawing

I agree totally with the above definitions of good and evil in the details. Many times I have seen projects derailed because someone did not take into account the details of a project.  I also know that my attention to detail in remodeling a house will make all the difference in the finished product.  My biggest issue is getting caught up in details that are not important at that moment and trying to tear myself away from them to focus on what is important.

There is this little voice in my head (oh, we won’t even get into that problem) reminding me of my tendency to procrastinate on things that overwhelm me or scare me or just flat out bore me.  Maybe the Devil has been wearing a different costume this week.

 

While I am gone…

As promised, here are some of the things I have been working on in my new creative space. Many of these are from an Instagram art challenge I have been taking part in with other artists and creative people from around the world.  It started on June 1st and ended on June 21st.

Charcoal clouds floral sketch Graditude sketch irises Laundry sketch mixed media 1 shack

Looking at this, I am all over the place, but after years of very sporadic periods of drawing and painting, I need the practice.  Like anything else, it takes practice to improve skills.  Before I went to college my drawing skills were much better than they are now because I had a fairly regular sketching schedule.  You would think as an art major I would have continued that, but a concentration in design did not include drawing and painting.  Then a full time job, then a family and boom, twenty-five years have gone by.

Some of these sketches I plan to refine into finished pieces.  I liked where they were going and want to spend some more time on them.

I am hoping to get some sketching in while I am on vacation.  If I manage to, I will post those when I get back.  Also, when I get back I have committed to a large charity event project that should be tons of fun and I will post the process of that undertaking.

Have a wonderful summer and Happy 4th of July for my U.S. readers.

The rest of the story…

To continue from where I left off last week (I hope by the time this has posted it has only been one week, not three months), over the winter I was trying to accomplish a great deal of creative stuff on a tiny kitchen table.  I managed, but my attitude suffered and so did a couple of people who put up with me on a regular basis.  Here are a few more things I created on my eating/laundry/art table.

IMG_1572 IMG_1626 IMG_1630

Yes, style wise I am all over the place.  I have always had that problem. I like too many things so I am squirrel-like in my creating.  One day I hope all this work will gel into a maximum of two, maybe three styles instead of the ten I have going now.

There are still more little projects coming in my next couple of posts.  We will see how I’m progressing.

Back again!

I have been woefully (I like the word “woefully”. Very expressive.) neglectful of my blog.  Once again I plan to be more disciplined in my writing.  I say that when I am three weeks from my vacation and will be completely out of the loop for a week and possibly off grid for most of it. The last few months I have actually been very busy with creative endeavors, but have been in an aggravated and frustrated state with it all.  Maybe others of you have been through the same thing or are going through the same thing and I probably should have written about it.  First, I just didn’t have the motivation and second, I’m not sure you would have wanted to hear about it while I was in that mind frame.  It was pretty negative.

So, what was going on with me? After the holidays I had the long winter months to work on projects and had a spurt of creative juices that had me pacing like a tiger in a cage.  I don’t work on just one project, I work on three or four projects when I’m in that state.  Actually, I work on three or four project most of the time in whatever state I am in. The aggravation point was a lack of creative space.  Up until the last two years I have had a reasonable amount of room (one being a converted walk-in closet) to spread out and leave my projects so I could come back to them.  Currently, I am living in a small two bedroom townhouse.  The second bedroom belonged to my son, and even though he was away at college it primarily contained all his stuff.  One wall was commandeered by me for my office desk (my room barely fits a bed much less a desk) and in one tiny corner I had set up my easel so I could paint while he was at    school.  Any other artsy projects had to be produced on my tiny kitchen table and then be moved or packed up when it was time to eat or fold clothes. Try to imagine working on jewelry one day, mosaics the next day, a painting the next day and having to find space to move the projects around, but still keep them accessible.  Add in the fact I have two dogs who think pretty much ANYTHING is potential food.  At one point, my little powder room was barely usable. I stacked my projects on the sink and in the floor and there was just enough room to still use the toilet.  Can you see where this was giving me a bad attitude? Anyway, during all this frustrating time away I did manage to do quite a bit of experimenting and playing.

Below are some of the pieces I made even through the frustration.  Not great art, but regaining and improving long neglected skills.  Practice does make perfect and if not perfect at least much better.  It has been decades instead of years that I have been unable to have a regular practice and it takes some work to get the rust off.  I am feeling much better now and will post more about that next time.

IMG_1635 IMG_1636 IMG_1506 IMG_1503