Friday, February 27, 2015

One Trick Pony

I was going to show you how I amended the beginning part of my outdoor art installation, but it appears I never showed it to you in the first place.  Hmmm.  Does this sound familiar?  I spray painted two louvered closet doors that Ann salvaged in the GREAT CLEAN-UP OF 2014.  Then I found a piece of 11.25" x 39" wood that probably started its life as a sheet of 3/4" plywood.  There are a lot of random pieces of wood around here.  Sometime, long ago in the summer months, I painted that plywood and had it leaning against the side of my garage between the two louvered doors (turquoise - that's the color I painted them) as the beginning of the installation.  But that plywood piece never looked right.  Turns out all it needed was a sun and a flower:

The first flower of my permanent outdoor garden.  And here's the latest installment of my indoor garden, this one painted on a cradled birch wood panel:

The angle is funny on that top picture - I've got several wet paintings on my table and I was trying to take this picture without dragging my camera strap through something else.  One of the other wet things is, of course, a flower:

Dang, those are fun.  Remember when all I painted was roosters?  I'm turning into a one trick pony again, but I don't mind because it's a pretty cool trick.  The other is a salvaged wreck of a canvas:

Wet paint, ergo no varnish yet.  But yes, the interference blue paint does make it shiny and sparkly like that if you see it from the right angle.  I will post better pictures later.

I promised myself I would finish another wreath before the end of the month, and I've only got one more day.  I was totally stuck with the silver and green one, so put it aside and started something new.  Hopefully this one will be easier.  I feel like I've got writer's block except, you know, it would be wreather's block.  If my wreath-making career is over already I will laugh until I cry.  There are a CRAP ton of ornaments left.

Speaking of crying, Leonard Nimoy died today.  He was an actor, a director, a poet, a photographer and - the The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins notwithstanding - a singer.  Ironic that such a right-brained man will be remembered for his portrayal of the most left-brained character ever.  RIP Mr. Spock. Prosper on a new plane.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Flower Power

Ooooh, I just love when colors moosh up together like that.

And that swirly stuff.  That's cool too.

I just decided the ginormous outdoor art installation I want to make for the side of my garage will be flowers like this.  Anybody who wants to come help -- you are all invited.

There will be all kinds of colors.

It will be messy and splattery and drippy and honestly -- what could possibly be better?

It will be the biggest, most fascinating flower garden in the history of the planet, and I will never have to water it.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Babe in the Woods

I thought for a minute my flurry of painting awesomeness had come to a sudden and decisive halt.  I covered an 8" x 10" canvas panel with a curious combo of silver and peanut-butter-brown (otherwise known as raw sienna) and swirled in some bits of purple.  Before it dried I added some texture.  I have no idea what the end result was going to be but I was damn sure this was a good start.

Then it dried.


So I covered the whole thing in white and judiciously scraped and scraped and scraped and scraped and scraped with the palette knife until lots of the underneath bits were poking through (I just accidentally typed "puking through").  When it was dry, I scraped at it again and dribbled some white enamel all over it.


At this point I still had no idea where I was going, except for the wee sheep on there.  On a whim I put the sheep in the woods and all was well with the world.

"Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little (sheep) must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year."

I'm quite sure Robert Frost meant sheep and not horse, right?

Friday, February 20, 2015

I spy, with my little eye, ....

A palette knife!  If I were to buy a traveling art box, this would be it.  Orange and purple swirly zebra-esque print.  It's a statement piece, and it belonged to my mom back in the day.  Don't ask which day, because I don't know.  In this day I've got way too much crapola to pack up for travel so I can't use the case for its intended purpose, but every time I look at it I am reminded that I come by my wonky sense of color legitimately.

Speaking of wonky sense of color, this potential travesty has happened:

Hey - it matches the travel case!  It's like a camo-koi.  That panel was going to have a word on it (I just this minute remembered the word was going to be WONKY) but it never happened.  I am slowly but surely exhausting my supply of pre-painted canvases and panels.  I forgot to take a picture of the background so you can't really see the orange bits running through the purple.  I wanted to use that pattern and the more I looked at it the more I saw a koi.  He looks better as a rough draft:

That's charcoal pencil on the paper so unless I spray it eventually it will all rub off.  However, last time I sprayed a page in this book it stunk for over a week.

Oh what the hell, I'm going to do it anyway.  Hang on a minute ....


Okay, that's done.  So the painting.  It is compelling in the same way the dragonfly explosion is.  I think it would be quite smashing with a black frame.  How someone is to work purple and safety orange into their decor I have no idea, but stranger things have happened.

That's what I was going to name this blog post originally.  Stranger things have happened.  Then I realized this camo-koi pretty much IS the strangest thing to have happened.

In other news, I've got a bit of a quandry.  In fact, it's a multi-faceted quandry.  I painted something else.  Facet number one is that I love it and want to keep it because it is yummy and awesome.  Facet number two is that the 14" x 18" panel is quite large for me.  That in and of itself is not a problem, I'm just afraid once I go big it will be hard to go back to small.  Big = loose.  Loose = good.  Using that logic, bigger = looser and looser = gooder.  Or something.  It's a math equation, not English.  Anyway, when (or perhaps I should say "if") the snow melts and summer gets here I'm going to really throw some paint around outside and see what happens.  I may create a masterpiece.

Here's the sketch of the quandry painting:

And here's the actual painting.  Looser was gooder.

"My name is Roxie, and I approve of this painting."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sensory Overload

Here is a nose:

Heh heh.

I've been on a roll with this whole painting thing, so yesterday I pulled out another one of those mysterious canvases I painted back in the beginning of time.  This one was going to be for words, something nighttime like DREAM BIG.  But the background ended up way too busy.  It's still too busy, but I was feeling reckless so I doodled an idea in my sketchbook:

Ignore the pencil and the green paint - that's just random nothing.  My doodle turned into a dragonfly explosion:

See what I mean about that blue being really busy?  Now it is CRAZY BUSY!  It helps if you squint, or just look at it with one eye.

Yet, it's like a train wreck; I can't look away.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

S&P 500

Since Derek posted it on the Frame of Reference facebook page today, I guess I can post it here, too.  MY YUMMY PAINTING FROM THIS WEEKEND!  Here's the deal.  Leslie has another book coming out in a couple of weeks.

We should all take a lesson from this woman.  When you decide you want something, go for it.  Leslie wanted to write (because being a lawyer -- *yawn*) and here she is launching her third mystery, with a fourth - the most important one because I'm the dead chick - in July, all on the heels of a non-fiction book that won an Agatha Award.  Oh yeah, and her first mystery won an Agatha Award, too.  So this book is the start of a new series set in Seattle.  The main character is named Pepper and she owns a spice shop.  Derek is hosting a book launch party for Leslie on March 6th (put it on your calendar) and he asked if I would send my new paintings so he can have a small Christine-Is-Awesome party at the same time as Leslie's book launch.  Well, okay, so maybe he didn't really say that.  But I'm sending my paintings and we both thought it would be a swell idea if I could paint something to tie in with Leslie's book.  Derek suggested the subject matter and ... here is the end result:

WOO HOO!  I love it.  The background is very loosely based on the colors of the book cover.  Very loosely.  I forgot to take a picture of the empty background, but here is my draft of the salt and pepper shakers:

Then I held my breath, crossed my fingers, said a prayer, and hoped for the best:

Safely out of the I-could-wreck-it-at-any-moment phase!  I wanted to leave it just like that, but it needed the S and the P in the colors of the title on the book cover.

Now, how to ship it without smooshing it....

Kerry Thompson

I painted something wickedly awesome on Saturday, but I can't show you yet.  The time is not right.  Therefore, I am sending you off on an adventure to someone else's blog.  Kerry Thompson is the artist who inspired my template trees.  She is a Canadian who lives in Australia and you may know her by her other name, Kerry Millard, which is the name she uses as an author, illustrator and cartoonist.  She illustrated "Nim's Island" and a billion other things.  Plus she's been a clown.  That part worries me.

Anywho, Kerry was featured on an Australian show called Colour in Your Life; I've moved on from Ellen YouTube clips and have been binge watching this show instead.  The host of the show, an artist named Graeme Stevenson, spends a day with an artist while they are working on a piece, and throughout the resulting 24 minute video you see screenshots of some of the artist's work.  One of Kerry's paintings that popped up looked like a bunch of multi-colored trees on a white background and I thought that was so cool.  You know the rest.  So today I went to Kerry's website to look at that painting again and I found this blog post instead.  Take the time to read it.  She's a hoot.  Apparently she is also a queen of happy accidents.  Then, if you have a spare 24 minutes, watch the video here.  They've got some crazy good artists Down Under.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday the 13th

Mom, poodle and I went on a little road trip today.  The sun was shining and the skies were blue and it seemed a shame to waste it sitting inside, although it was too darn cold to really be outside.  So technically we still spent the day sitting inside -- inside a car.  First we zipped in to take a picture of the Fisher Bridge and according to the sign it is the "last railroad covered bridge still in regular use in Vermont."  Of course, I don't know how old that sign is so I don't know if the bridge is still in use.  I shall go back when the snow melts, if it ever does, and take better pictures.

Cool.  Then we went to Craftsbury.

Here is some information about Craftsbury that everyone should know.  First, quoting from wikipedia:

Alfred Hitchcock shot the scenery for his 1955 movie The Trouble with Harry in Craftsbury. Ostensibly, the movie takes place entirely in town. Exteriors of the parsonage beside the East Craftsbury Presbyterian Church are used as well as exterior shots of Craftsbury Common. Assuming that the town would be in full foliage, the company showed up for outdoor shots on September 27, 1954. To the filmmakers' shock, there was hardly any foliage left; to achieve a full effect, leaves were glued to the trees.

Heh heh. That's pretty funny. Next, Craftsbury Common is home to Sterling College, which is one of the smallest accredited four year liberal arts schools in the country. (Again, wikipedia.)  The campus is 130 acres; they've got 393 acres of forested lands, and 1.5 acres called The Sterling Gardens. According to their website, "we work towards becoming a self-sufficient institution largely feeding itself." As they say, "Many colleges have a farm - Sterling College is a farm." They are all about sustainability and environmental stewardship.

Last but not least, the Craftsbury Outdoor Center is a wee bit off the beaten path but it's a real gem. It has been in operation since 1976 and has been run as a non-profit since late 2008 under the ownership of Dick Dreissigacker and Judy Geer. Dick is one of the founders of Concept2; his daughter Hannah competed in the 2014 Olympics on the US Women's Biathlon team.  The Outdoor Center was the first rowing camp in North America.  They have something like 100k of trails for nordic skiing and running.  Here is their mission statement:

  1. to support and promote participation and excellence in lifelong sports with a special focus on rowing, nordic skiing, biathlon and running;
  2. to use and teach sustainable practices; and
  3. to protect and manage the surrounding land, lake and trails.

In conclusion, even tiny specks on the map have interesting bits and pieces.

Now that our geography and history lesson is over, I finished a painting I started about six months ago.

I think I like it better in these pictures than I do in real life.  Hmmmm.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Bluebird Day

I got home from work today and it was all sunshine and lollipops around here.

Well, it was sunshine.

Poodle and I got in the car to drive around and marvel at the blue sky.  First I put the jeep in a ditch because, you know, I forgot there is actually a ditch on the side of the road under that snowbank.  Oops.

That cute little hill is Elmore Mountain.  It bottoms out in my back yard.

And that last picture is Lake Elmore, which is on the other side of Elmore Mountain.  Foolish people will be jumping in a hole somewhere on this lake on Saturday.  Gotta say, a polar plunge is NOT on my bucket list.

Did you notice that portrait of the jeep?

I wonder what the heck this was, and where the rest of it went.

A marshmallow field with Stowe in the background.  Every time I stopped to take a picture (and I usually stopped in the middle of the road because, you know, ditches) the UPS truck would suddenly appear behind me.  Poor UPS guy.

And we conclude our photo essay with my birdhouse that fell out of its tree about a month ago.  And when I say it fell out of its trees I mean the hanger that has probably been nailed into the tree for a thousand years fell out, too.  I don't know how that happened but I suspect there was a squirrel involved.  They're crafty.  Now the birdhouse is frozen to the ground.

So here is an oddity from long, long ago that I found in my sketchbook:

Yeah, ... what?  Crazy nonsense.

Moving on.

I painted another template tree piece and, in my optimistic fashion, I took pictures along the way.  The first coat of paint is for color and texture, although most of the texture is lost once I varnish the painting.  It looks pretty cool at this stage:

Then I threw on some white enamel paint, just because I could:

Next I made my tree stencil.  It would be infinitely more clever of me to cut this stencil out of something heavier than 60 lb paper, but I like to live on the edge.  When the first bits of paint were dry, I lined up my stencil and hoped for the best:

I peeled it off and ... :

Voila!  Cool beans.

All that happened yesterday.  Today I added the finishing bits:

If you are paying attention you will notice that the finished product is upside down from the way it started.  This is because Christine made a strategic error and didn't notice until after the varnish was on.  Oops.

That's my second oops of the day.

Roxie had an exhausting afternoon riding in the jeep and then playing with her toys.  So she napped.

That's my girl.