Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Cat Scratch Heaven

I just LOVE working in graphite!  And I love cats, so this drawing worked out beautifully.  I used 7 different levels of graphite, and worked for several hours building up the layers, trying hard to keep it delicate and transparent.  This piece really made me feel like an artist as I tried to interpret the cat in my own way.


Granny Smiths

 I used 21 different colored pencils to render this drawing.  Some of the colors were green, of course, but I used a lot of complimentary colors to make everything 'pop'. I used 4 different reds, 6 yellows, and 5 blues.  What amazed me about drawing these apples was that once I started truly looking at them, I saw every shade of color.  I saw amazing variations of green in the spots, and in the shadows.  I noticed growth patterns, even 'stretch marks' of quick growth from when the apple was forming.  I really SAW those apples.  I think for me, that is my reason for being an artist.  I see things I would never have paid attention to otherwise.  I discover life!
Granny Smiths, detail



I painted this 9x11 acrylic on canvas board for my husband.  It is a Valentine to him.  He was the one to introduce me to the beauties of wildlife, nature, and scenery.  I grew up in the suburbs, privy only to pets and fenced backyards.  When I met him, he took me hiking in the woods, hunting for mushrooms, looking for fossils, fishing and wading through streams.  What an amazing world he opened my eyes to, and I will be forever grateful to him for patiently answering all of my naive questions, and listening to me rattle on about the amazing butterfly wings, and the strange ways of the chipmunks.  Because we have moved so often over the years, I never got a chance to carve our initials into a permanent tree, so this is my way of carrying it with us always.


My brothers and I grew up in Joplin, Missouri on a small suburban street.  Patterson Avenue.  It hit us really hard to hear that in the recent category 5 tornado that tore through the state, our little part of it, our piece of that street and that house is gone.   None of us live in Joplin anymore.  My older brother left Patterson Avenue to join the Navy.  My younger brother and I moved to new places.  But it was at that house that we had our best memories of childhood.  All three of us were together, having pillow fights, getting our tonsils out, riding bicycles and playing with frogs.  I see the devastation on the news and mourn for those who lost their lives, their homes and livelihoods.  I think about the people we once knew and wonder if they still live there.  I am saddened by the loss for all of us, even those who haven't lived there in 30 years and have had their memories changed forever.  Places we have been have connections to our lives.  Joplin helped to create something unique in my brothers and I.  Every place I have ever lived has meant something, molded me through experiences and roots.  This is just a small memory of a special place, and my acknowledgement that Joplin is important to the world. Important to everyone. 

Monday, May 30, 2011


Mountains in My Mind

You won't find this mountain scene anywhere in the world.  I chose to create a peaceful spot to go to, high above the busy world.  I am not particularly good at landscape,so this was an experiment in depth.  Another tiny painting, it is 4x6 inches and done in acrylic.  I am really fond of these miniatures, as I can paint an entire painting in a small amount of time and really express myself!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountain Trail

This is the Alum Trail in the Smoky Mountain National Park.  While the painting is small, only 4x6...the composition is a powerful one, I think.  It is such a beautiful and ethereal place to visit that I thought it needed to be recorded in my own way.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


MONARCH (actual size)

While doing the "Artist's Way" workbook, one of the creative nudges was to follow a butterfly for one half hour.  My butterfly was a Monarch, and through following it across fields and dirt roads, neighbor's yards and a county highway, I grew quite attached to it.  Saddened to let it eventually fly on without me, I came home and painted this miniature.  Acrylic on 2"x3" canvas, I enjoyed every brush stroke. 

Friday, May 27, 2011


I was driving through a lovely little town when I ran across this old Victorian home being renovated...helped along by this dog!  What a wonderful, whimsical thing to happen upon!  I was inspired by his bravado, his sense of adventure, and his serious expression.  Already I am thinking about a wonderful children's storybook to turn this into, and the many illustrations I can play with.  Anybody have any fun storylines ideas?  Shall we rescue the dog?  Shall we chase him off the roof?  What can I do with this picture?  Don't you just love all the possibilities?!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


The kettle must boiling be

Before you make the tea..

After a night of tornadoes and lightning bolts,  I am finding the need for peace, serenity and tea.  I have been out to pick up fallen branches, harvest some rosemary, plant herbs for the season, and enjoy the fresh, cleansed air after the storms.   Last night was a bit frightening.  We lost electricity for several hours, and I had just heard a song on the radio that had me thinking awfully hard...something about living like you are dying.  What a strange thought. "Live like you are dying."  What would I do if I had a set amount of time left?  What would I be remembered for?  Have I spent enough time with those I love?  Have I created those masterpieces?

It is an interesting discussion for tea time with my mother.  How much time has been wasted watching TV that didn't interest me, making excuses to NOT paint or create? What do I want to do yet that I haven't done?

A 'bucket list', or list of things to accomplish before you die, has been on my mind of late.  I had a chance to go skydiving with my daughter several years ago.  I do NOT regret giving that honor to her daddy.  I am not too excited about physical risk.  However, I have always wanted to be able to swim well, and to do some diving in the tropics.  The sea fascinates me, a landlocked lake lover.

I have some thinking to do, and tea and tornados are a good start to the rest of my life.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I am having real difficulty with creativity this week...with time issues, and with emotional disruption in my life right now.  Knowing that it shouldn't be an excuse, I have at the very least gotten my basic charcoal drawing onto my canvas.  I know what I want to do, I just can't seem to get it done!  Where is my determination?!  Where is my stiick-to-it-iveness?!  Where is my confidence?!  Where is the support from cyberspace I hoped for?!  I am so stuck.........

Monday, May 23, 2011


We went to an auction this weekend, and I was inspired by all of the possibilities!  I just love old childrens' toys and was thinking about all of the fun it would be to use some of these toys in a still life.  This particular auction had an amazing amount of town history up for sale...euphemora from the last century in the form of the first newspapers from the city, and old bill of sales from "motor buggies".  What an inspiration to create from some of these treasures!  What inspired you this week?

I chose a monochromatic palette for this drawing of my son's baseball mitt.  I wanted it to look rather like an old-fashioned  sepia photograph, so that it would give that feeling of nostalgia.  We moved so often when the children were younger that we had to keep our household goods to a minimum.  The best way to keep those memories alive of treasured childhood items was for me to draw them.  We never knew if the moving vans would lose our packing crates, and so this was my way of making sure we kept those special things.  This piece brings back wonderful memories of playing catch and  Little League.

Sunday, May 22, 2011


Working with graphite for me is like coming home...I started out drawing with pencils and learned so much about shading and line with a basic 2B.  This sketch was done from my collection of ocean rocks and driftwood from the Pacific Ocean.  I have kept the smooth stones in a jar for years, and added to the collection every time I happened to get to the beaches for peaceful walks and happy moments.  The cactus was a last minute addition, as I felt I needed some sharp edges for some contrast.  I drew this particular piece because I am missing my daughter (who lives in California where I collected these stones) and it brought her a bit closer.  I thought of the many walks along the beach we had together while picking up some of these rocks. I feel more at peace having completed the drawing.  Art really is therapeutic!!!


This is an exercise in monochromatic palettes.  I had never worked in just black and white with paint, but I wanted to really SEE my lights and darks, work on my contrast, and visually exercise my instincts.  This is a cabin in the Smoky Mountains.  I am really not pleased with my choices with the trees and bushes, but fairly happy with the landscape background.  I also found that when working with a limited palette, your composition needs to be really strong.  This one wasn't so much.   I felt that the tin roof of the cabin was an interesting highlight and kept the painting from getting downright morose.  I struggle every time I do a landscape...they don't come naturally to me at all.  If the place doesn't mean anything to me, it is even harder to get it to work.  I must need an emotional attachment to do it justice.  Hmm...wonder if that goes for the rest of my painting?  Anyway, I did learn to really look for the levels of contrast and highlight, and I believe that tossing out the color brings out a need for stronger composition basics.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Frogs are just fun to draw.  In going over my sketchbooks through the years, I noticed a rather strange propensity for amphibians.  I first started drawing them to amuse my son when he was going through his creepy-crawly phase.  We lived in so many different places that he was interested in why the frogs looked different from state to state.  That curiousity was contagious, and we kept a bit of a diary on frogs throughout the years.  When we first bought our house here in Tennessee, I immediately was interested in the reddish color of the toads in our yard.  RED!  Our youngest cat was intrigued as well, and she caught one first day out.  She promptly spit it out, so it must have had a nasty aftertaste, and then she started foaming at the mouth.  Took me 15 minutes to rinse the toxins out, and we both learned a lesson...RED MEANS DANGER!

Friday, May 20, 2011


Every Anniversary, my husband has given me roses, a dozen red, with one yellow rose for each year we were married.  After awhile, it started getting really expensive, and difficult to find that many (we have been married for 34 years now) so he started giving me the most lovely red tipped yellow roses, and fuschia colored ones.  I would save them until the bitter end, when the petals were shriveling and falling off because I loved them so much.  I have even made rose petal beads from some of the anniversary roses.  My favorite way of saving those roses, however, is by drawing them, or painting them.  This rendition is one of my favorites, done in colored pencil and tracing every vein and crease.  Every time I look at this piece I feel happy.  Isn't that what art is all about?


Mouse Heaven

What fun I had drawing this picture!  I was once the cover artist for the Spouse's Magazine at one of the military bases.  They needed something with an autumn theme, and I came up with this.  It was at this time that I discovered a love of drawing animals, because that little mouse really brought a still life to a different level.  I have been toying with the idea of doing illustration for a while now, and will be practicing along those lines with a children's book I have written called "The Mad Mouse and the Teeny, Tiny Turtle".  I look forward to creating the characters and working on expressions and telling the story with pictures.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Grace At Sea

I chose to combine the looseness of watercolor with ink today.  I just love the way that throwing salt onto a wet color causes it to look just like sand.  I kept my lines simple to suggest a small conch shell.  Loads of fun, fun, fun!  Why isn't everyone an artist?!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


I have been working on this painting for a year now, and am unable to decide if it is complete!  I love the brushstrokes that developed in this painting, and I love how the water looks deep and mysterious.  I spent a lot of time at this old mill and covered bridge when I was growing up, and it means a lot.  I am not so thrilled with the entrance to the bridge...though it is technically exact, it looks rather strange.  I need guidance here, people!  What are your thoughts on the completeness of this painting?  Does the waterfall look like a good interpretation of it?  What is working, or not working?  HELP!!!


Moonlight Garden

I don't do watercolor very often.  I took classes from Jake Wells at Southeast Missouri State University many years ago (he does have a book out with watercolors of Missouri's covered bridges).  While I really enjoyed the techniques, and experimenting with salt and plastic wrap, I never truly felt in control of my work and where it was going to end up.  Now that I am older and wiser, I have realized that it is not always a good thing to have THAT MUCH CONTROL! I did a wildly interpretive garden here that was great fun to work with and really loosened me up for a more open mind to watercolor and experimenting with mediums.

Moonlight Garden (detail)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Ball point pen, sketch book, and a tiny window of time...that is all that is needed to keep me happy!  I admit to not actually meeting this noble creature.  I was watching my National Geographic Channel and an old documentary on the relocation of wolves to Yellowstone Park, and I was intrigued by the diversity of colors that the wolf had.as a breed.  Don't you think that the look in this one's eye is one of wisdom, long suffering, and a bit of contempt for the humans who were trying to guess what he was feeling and thinking? 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


My husband and best friend, Michael, did an amazing job at the Arts Alive art show in Florence, Alabama this month.  You are seeing a detail of a red granite carving called "Dracon" that was inspired by the very first mention of dragons in history from "The Illiad".  Michael has a classical background in literature and history, and (just to embarrass him) has quoted poetry to me over the years.  Yes, ladies, he is the PERFECT husband!  I am always amazed at the depth of his thoughts, and the talent in his art.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I went to University to get my Fine Arts degree in education.  I thought that teaching art to children was what I was going to do.  Fate sent me in a new direction, however, when the government cut art and music programs from the public school systems.  I have since spent my career  teaching art to adults, usually at the education centers on military bases.  Occasionally I was able to give art lessons to children on a one-to-one basis, and truly enjoyed the experiences.  Children are an open book.  They are able to experiment and risk when an adult fights the experience all the way.  You can instruct them on warm and cool colors, and they will paint the sea orange and the sun blue, just to see what it looks like.  I believe that we all start as artists, and then slowly talk ourselves out of it. 
My grandson sent me a picture that he drew this week.  I am blown away by his imagination, his symbolic uses  for the sun and wind, and the beautiful rich colors.  Yes, I am a proud Grandma...but I am also a person with admiration for a budding artist whose potential is easy to see.  I am inspired by his use of color combinations and his simple, clean lines.   Artists get their inspiration from other artists, nature, light and life.  What inspires you?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I love working with colored pencil.  I have CONTROL!!!  I can push it into deep colors, lots of depth...or I can barely tint the paper, like taking a sepia photograph.  I have been watching some of the new, contemporary artists work lately, and they have done wonderful things with colored pencil.  They make it look so easy, and can really get the most out of the medium.  In my experience with colored pencil, the most important thing about controlling it is using high quality paper or base, and getting a really good set of pencils.  Prismacolor is one of the best I have tried, with lots of pigment and fairly inexpensive.  I would love to try some of the professional pencils someday, as well.  I drew this yellow warbler when I spent some time in Southern California.  We had a lime tree out back that beckoned to the warblers and Western Tanagers.  It also seemed to attract a few snakes, much to my surprise (and my neighbor's, when I spent a few terrified minutes screaming for help.)  I did a bit of experimenting with the layering of colors, trying to get a deep enough contrast to pull out the yellows.  I played with a red undertone in the branches, as well.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Happy Mother's Day to all
and thank you, darlings,
 for the most beautiful tulips I have ever seen!

Friday, May 6, 2011


I have submitted my "Spring Iris"  to The Artist Challenge - A Private Art Club for the #50 Flower Challenge.  I find the experience always stretches my 'risk muscles' and I love the helpful critique that comes along with the challenges.  This particular painting is frustrating to take a photo of because I painted it to be tipped on it's end, like a diamond.  No matter what I try, I cannot get the photo programs to allow me to display it in that manner, so tip your head slightly and you will view it the way I meant it to be. Techie I am not!  I enjoyed painting this piece so much that I plan on doing more in the Impressionist style.  I loved playing with the brush strokes, and there was not so much angst in figuring out where my stopping point was.  (That is always an issue with me, as I tend to overdo my paintings.)  Anyway, visit my Iris and all the many beautiful floral paintings at the Artist Challenge site and celebrate spring!

Monday, May 2, 2011


This painting of snow hares was my first ever oil painting.   I am featuring it today to remind myself how far I have come, and maybe how far I have NOT come.  In other words, what has changed in my work in the past 10 years?  Have I grown?  I looked up an old art instructor that I had about 15 years ago...she now has a website and an art school.  Her recent work and her old work was indistinguishable.  It struck me that I expected change and growth in her, and I probably hadn't done a lot of growth in my own work, either.  So I am looking hard at my work.  I sometimes feel that I was better technically in my earlier work.  I have been moving towards more abstract backgrounds for some of my paintings lately.  I am frustrated thinking about whether it is better, however.  I have even been considering using some collage methods to illustrate my thoughts in some of the paintings, and worried whether that is going in the direction of craftsman rather than artist...I had a rather rigid classical art background that looks down its nose at less traditional methods.  Growth, however, isn't possible without experimentation.  What to do? What to do???  I ask you,  what do you think out there?  Do you have thoughts on change, growth and art in your own life? 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

I did this painting with the intentions of a looser style, and an emotional connection to one of my favorite sports.  I failed miserably.  I am unhappy with a variety of things about this painting.  Representationally, it is not quite correct.  The color palette was all wrong for the subject, though it does kind of bring back a nostalgic feeling.  The sea shell is too thick, the bobber is wobbly, the paint is too thick.  Yet I did learn from this painting.  I tried a variety of techniques to get the feeling of sand.  Some of them were watercolor techniques that don't work as well with acrylic.  I tried for an oil painting style with the acrylics, as well.  I know that doing it again, I would do a lot of things differently, but I am trying hard not to feel like a failure with this one.  I am trying to change my "everything has to come out perfectly" attitude and be happy with the chance to learn from the experience. 
"An artist cannot fail; it is a success to be one. "Charles Horton Cooley