Painting vs Evil

Painting has turned out to be an effective strategy in other dark times and seems to be working now. It makes a big difference to me to focus on something beautiful rather than something ugly. And making something beautiful seems to be the definition of positive thinking.

Yesterday Facebook showed me a painting I did last year when I first got the natural pigments. Looking at it (and I like it and am proud of it) I thought, “You’ve come a long way, baby.”

Snowy Trail (actual size)

It’s been important because in no other sense have I been able to “get anywhere,” especially in these times when so much is out of my control and so much of it is bad and scary. The little painting above is 5″ x 7″ (13 x 18 cm)

Right now I’m painting garden signs. They’re fun, colorful, don’t take up a lot of space, and people buy them. My order of acrylic paint finally arrived late last night (??,) so I can finish a couple garden signs that are hanging fire and start one that needs a color I couldn’t mix.

I listened to Biden’s speech yesterday and his plan is expensive (initially) and ambitious, but I think his point that if people HAVE money they can SPEND money and with the rolling out of vaccines, people will be able to go into the marketplace more freely. I know that when I don’t have money, I can’t spend it. Most of all, his plan is kind. Right now that’s worth a lot to me. I doubt Trump will ever get his comeuppance, but I really don’t care, do you? 😉

Painting Against the Gotterdammerung

Art is the only way to run away without leaving home” pretty much sums up my feelings at this moment. I have no great inspiration right now, but just the act of painting, realizing an idea or facing down a challenge, is healing and distracting.

On my birthday, I spent the morning on the phone with my cousin for whom I did this painting as a birthday gift from my cousin’s daughter:

On the phone she mentioned she loved it but what she REALLY loved was the painting on the back which is my “logo” — a little quickly done painting of the mountains near my house, notably, Windy Mountain. So, I decided to paint her a little painting featuring that scene (featured image).

The big project I was struggling with was a salmon colored poppy. Red poppies are easy because the color is intense and self-reliant, but salmon? When you start mixing colors and are dealing with pastels, everything is trickier, for me anyway. Not my favorite painting, but not a total failure, either. This garden sign is 23 x 12

Meanwhile, they’re alleging snow, but Bear and I are skeptical. I’m not doing great art at the moment. It’s been an intense and artistic few months and the psyche is a little tired, not to mention the relentless scary ugliness of current events. SO… I guess I’ll just keep painting toward better days and hope for snow… March is sometimes the snowiest month of the year.

This poppy is in my Etsy Shop.

Voltaire for the Garden

A nice afternoon painting a garden sign.

This is a quotation from Voltaire’s novel, Candide. If you’ve read the novel, you know it, if you haven’t, it’s a satirical novel written in the 18th century by Voltaire. Basically, the main character, Candide, goes through EVERYTHING one could in life to an exaggerated (and humorous) degree. At the end, he and his friends are living in Turkey where they live peacefully and simply. Candide’s philosopher/old teacher, expounds based on his philosophical theory that “this is the best of all possible worlds” and goes into a long rant about how all the crazy stuff that’s happened has been a long “concatenation of events” leading to the present moment, basically the “Everything happens for a reason” argument. Candide simply responds, “…excellently observed, but let us cultivate our garden.”

Free Hand Lettering is a Bitch

Acrylic paint on exterior grade plywood on top of exterior primer, soon to be varnished. 32″ x 8.5″ It will have screw eyes and wire to hang.

Free hand lettering is not easy. In my head I kept hearing my brother, Kirk, who was a professional sign painter, yelling, “More paint! Pull the brush!” Finally, I was happy with legibility! And it’s cute. 🙂

Here’s a link to the Etsy Listing in case you need a little advice and moral support as you browse seed catalog and ponder little pots for seedlings. ❤

A Good Book and Decent Art’

I’m reading a book right now that is not in my usual “genre” of stuff I read. This book fits in the category of “chick lit,” which is defined as, “genre fiction, which consists of heroine-centered narratives that focus on the trials and tribulations of their individual protagonists,” but it also isn’t. I will be posting a review sometime soon when I’ve finished. About 20 pages in, I managed to suspend my “I don’t read this kind of story” mentality and was captured by the story. I want to know what happens next and look forward to the moment in my day when I can sit down and read some more.

That says a lot for the book and the writer, but I can already recommend it. The book is Blind Turn, and the author is Cara Sue Achterberg. I’m only about 60 pages in, but I’m no longer reading to write a promised review. I’m reading because I want to find out what happens.

In other news? I’m painting garden signs, and none too soon. The first seed catalog arrived yesterday. That’s BEFORE CHRISTMAS. Gurneys clearly wants to beat out all the rest of those guys, beat out Burpees, beat out Johnny’s Seeds, beat out everyone, and it’s filled with vegetable garden porn. Lettering is the challenging part of this for me, but I’m getting better at it. Maybe I should’ve paid attention to my brother when he tried to tell me about the challenges of lettering, but I had a hard time caring. I couldn’t see 40 years into the future when I’d be lettering signs myself.

There’s no question this whole year has been the pits and the virus the deepest part of the pit. You can’t vote out a virus, but yesterday I took stock in my Etsy store and this morning I realized I’d never have done what I did this year if I hadn’t more-or-less been “liberated” to do it. I like being a working artist. It’s the best job I’ve had yet.


I have graduated lenses and they are out of adjustment. Yesterday I took a fall, hurt my shoulder and hit my head. Today I’m just tired and angry. If it had not been for Covid (which I actually blame on Donald Trump) I would have filled the prescription for new glasses I got last, yes, March. Early March. BUT…

The optometrist (we have one) didn’t close his practice but it became (naturally) not the place anyone wanted to go unless they had to. His restrictions are sound and safe as can be, and I just figured, “I’ll hold on until this is over,” but no. First one pair of glasses lost a nose piece then this pair of glasses lost a nose piece leaving everything fvcked up. OK. Well…

I read without my glasses. I do most other things with them, like walking across the room. Yesterday I literally missed the floor, but not with my body. I yelled, “FUCK!” as any sane person would and scared Teddy who thought he’d brought about the apocalypse. From his behavior it now looks to me like someone really hurt that little guy back in his former life.

I picked myself up which is not that easy and pondered whether I needed a thing around my neck yet, Hauled myself up by the kitchen sink, bent my glasses back into some kind of shape, assessed the damage. Head, pretty OK; shoulder screaming bloody murder. I strapped an ice pack around my shoulder and sat down with my traumatized little dog.

Seriously, folks, it was almost the last straw.

You know, I think, “Well, OK, I’ll deal with this. I’m a strong and patient person,” but then I end up hurting myself because of it. Migraines? Part and parcel, I am totally sure. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m angry. I understand peoples’ frustration with the restrictions, though I don’t exactly sympathize.

I don’t know. My plan tomorrow is to call them, take both pair of glasses, hand them to Victor (the optician) and tell him I need nose pieces and sit there and wait.

I really really really want this to be over. I want Trump gone. I want a vaccine. I want a new glasses prescription. I want people not to have to be scared any more. I want the “dial” we have here in Colorado that tells us the “risks” to vanish from my life. I want my shoulder to quit hurting. I want not to whine like this on my blog.

Meanwhile, I’ve gotten to work on the garden signs. That kind of challenge usually cheers me up. Maybe tomorrow. The clever saying on this one, “Weed it and Reap” is not original with me, but I really like it. I have four boards, 32 x 8 inches.

Glued to a Project

Since I paint standing up and don’t use an easel, my posture has been on my mind. After several hours standing there, I hurt. Even if I move around a lot, stretch and stuff, by the end of a work (?) day my legs and back hur. It goes away pretty fast, but I think I need to get a stool on which to perch and maybe a legit easel.

I’ve been painting garden signs. No arty painting on the table at the moment. These are the recent projects, commissions:

The top is for my wonderful neighbor who gave me all those beautiful flagstones for the ever-evolving yard/garden. I offered her one of my paintings, and she told me that she really wanted a garden sign. Her garden is amazing. It’s a small park. Everything on the sign grows in the alley between our houses and hummingbirds have been a solace and distraction to her and her husband this strange summer. “Count Your Blessings” is a thing we talk about fairly often.

The lower one is a gift from my cousin’s daughter to her mom. I wish I had stepped back a bit because the “am” is too close to the “the” but OH well. As they say, paint and learn.

The coolest part of the lower sign, for me, was mixing paint. For YEARS I’ve had jars of raw pigment that I got on cheap at an art store that was going out of business. By years I mean like fifteen years. I paint the signs with acrylic paint and it hit me, “Hey wait a minute. I HAVE the color I need. I just need to MAKE it.”

I opened the box where I store my oil paints and some other treasures. In many ways, the box isn’t very practical for paints. My beloved Uncle Hank made it as a jewelry box for my Aunt Jo, and my Aunt Jo gave it to me. In the bottom, under the little tray that is supposed to hold jewelry and that holds my oil paints, are the six or seven jars of raw pigment.

Now I just needed a medium to mix the color into. Hmmmm…

I went online, of course. As I researched, a dim memory from the summer after 9th grade began shoving other thoughts aside. Mr. Dix, my art teacher in 9th grade, thought I should grow up to be a painter and arranged for one of my classmates and I to take classes from Mary Chenoweth at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. Don’t ask me how I remember her name, but I do… The memory is a foreign country.

My mom wasn’t happy about this. First, she hated art and did not want me to be an artist. Second, she didn’t want to drive me down there twice a week. I went once. But in that lesson, I learned how to make acrylic paint which, at the time, 1967, was a comparatively new medium for fine art. It had only been around since 1959.

She taught us to take powdered tempera paint, put it into a bottle, add some Elmer’s Glue and shake it up. If I were British, I’d say, “And Bob’s your uncle.” My classmate and I then painted still lifes (good ones!) with the paint we’d made. When my mom said she wouldn’t drive me any more, my teacher offered, but OH WELL there went my formal art training…

Which begs the question, why didn’t I ride my bike?

Anyhoo….so yesterday, watching videos about making acrylic paint all of which talked about buying this medium or that medium, my one summer art class came back to me. “Fuck it,” I said, “Elmer’s glue.

I posted the above photo on Facebook, and a friend said, “What’s the dirt for?” I LOVED that because that brown stuff IS dirt. “Cleaned” dirt from Umbria, Italy. The paint worked beautifully, and I was grateful to Mary Chenoweth for teaching me this skill. You can see it outlining the blue below and the letters. It was REALLY nice paint, but I made too much. I learned that 1) a little goes a long way, 2) dry pigment flies around everywhere and is POTENT.

Mary Chenoweth’s point in teaching us this skill was that paint is expensive. That is absolutely true. The FULL price for the raw pigment was $11.00 fifteen years ago, so it’s probably more now, but an 8 oz tube of paint is at LEAST that much. I didn’t even use 1/4 the amount of paint I made and it made no dent in the amount of powder remaining in the jar. I don’t know if I’m going to get into the whole thing of making my own paint all the time, but I have learned that I can use these beautiful natural pigments.