Friday, December 30, 2011

Goodbye 2011

Goodbye 2011, created in Corel Draw

When I dragged the trash to the curb last night it was cold.  I wore two coats, gloves, and a hat.  Willie always insists on helping and then he insists on a walk.  After the cold walk, I came inside and ordered a long brown down coat.  Then I imagined how I'll look on trash-to-the-curb nights as I played with Corel Draw (that's a plastic bag for poop in the pocket).  Hopefully, hunters will not mistake me for a bear.  I, of course, remember the Seinfeld episode when George wore his huge gore-tex coat.

Labeling the trash can 2011 is today's afterthought and seemed appropriate.

Happy New Year.

I don't make resolutions.
 I hope to play and laugh more in 2012.
What about you?
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Inspiration for a Painting

On Watch for Rustlers, gouache & wc on arches, 14x17

First drawing

Inspired by:

My Egypt by Charles Demuth (Whitney Museum)
I was perusing THE 20TH CENTURY ART BOOK when I saw this painting by Demuth.  I didn't see a building; I saw boots and cowboy hat.  I closed the book and made a quick sketch on green card stock--a cowboy and his dog/horse.  Later I read that cattle rustling was on the rise in the West; I took that as a sign I should make a painting, and this one was pure fun--watercolor background and first time using gouache for the figure.

The gun (probably an over-and-under) was an afterthought; I thought the painting needed a vertical.  Later when I looked at Demuth's painting I noticed the smokestack--it was probably buried in my subconscious.  Wonder what else is there?

I always like my first childlike drawings.  I added the grid later just to check placement--I believe that we have an innate sense of where things should be placed and can hit the marks without aiming.     Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Shopping

Turkey Shopping, created in Corel Draw X5
I'm preparing for Thanksgiving; that doesn't mean I'm all work.  I played with the drawing tools in Corel Draw--it's taken me a week to get this drawing from Corel into my blog (and, somehow, several inches of white got cropped from the top).  Oh, well--I'm getting close.

Dip Mold, photo
Yesterday, while cleaning out the refrigerator to make room for the turkey, I found some old dip.  The mold on top looked like sculpture, so I got out the camera.  I see a reindeer, a rabbit head, a rear end, and some duck and pig feet--art is sometimes found right under our noses.
Happy Thanksgiving.
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Circling the Thing Called Art

Pencil Sketch of Dave, 5x5

My sketchbook is always handy but until three weeks ago I had never sketched in public.  At an auto shop I got my chance; sitting across from me was a great model, my husband Dave.  Both our Jeeps were at the dealer (54 miles away) for repairs.  Dave's not very patient--he sat for a few minutes, left before I sketched his feet, and returned to a different seat.
Corel'd Dave
I recently bought Corel Draw Graphic Suite X5 (an upgrade because Suite 12 didn't work with Windows 7).  I wanted to play with digital paint brushes and colors so I tried scanning the sketch into Corel--the scanner didn't work.  We now have a new printer/scanner.  Everything's working, thanks to a good friend, Sam Caparatta.  Sam and Dave spent lots of time talking with "Tech."  We bought a Windows 7 computer in January and it has taken me 10 months and a lot of cussing just to get back to where I was last year.  I'm not sure this is progress; it's more like treading water and trying not to drown.   

I took a 3-hour linoleum block printing class at
Convergence Art Guild, a real pleasure, taught by my sister-in-law Mary Wilkerson.  My
subject was the chair next to my work
station.  I added a cat the following day, Halloween, and only needed three bandaids. 

Two-legged Chair, linoleum block, 7x5

I hope to do more linoleum block printing.  My problem is I like the block itself--looks like bas relief , and I'm hesitant to cut pieces away for printing with more than one color.  I just read THE COMPLETE PRINTMAKER, a book I've had for years; printmaking is definitely interesting.

Terry, charcoal drawing, 24x18
I attempted to draw my artist friend Terry during Thursdays at the Y Art.  The easel contraption stood still; Terry didn't.  When she appeared too thin, I took the easy way and made her head smaller.  She said she had always thought she had a pinhead--ha.  She was wrong when she said she lacked a sense of humor--we laugh a lot.  

Longwood Park
I feared I had missed the autumn colors so I took my camera along when I voted yesterday; luckily, I wasn't too late. 

Kinderton Golf Club

Clarksville Marina--3 blocks from my house

End of 4th, next to Marina--my favorite.  Geese patrol this knoll during the summer.
And I'm still playing with my Winsor and Newton watercolors--nothing worth posting yet. 
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Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween on Commerce Street

On my street we like our natural decorations--very old half-dead trees, vultures, and spiders. Maybe that explains why no trick-or-treaters showed up. Now I have to eat all that candy! 

These photos were taken on or from my front porch.  Happy Halloween.
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chase City VA

Chase City VA >or<
pastel on Wallis paper, 16x12

I finally got off my porch and made it to the next town.  Chase City is about 15 miles away--a ride through the country side; then suddenly there's a view from an overpass that reminds me of Baltimore.  This is it--more or less.  I moved the water tower and omitted a few buildings.  For this view I'd have to look up and down; right and left.  I will add that Chase City has some very beautiful homes, and MacCallum More Museum and Gardens (where I've exhibited my work) is there.  For painting, I chose the grittier side. 

The tall building in the center has lettering on the bricks:
My guess is that the sign painter, after climbing down the 30-foot ladder, said, "I'm not climbing up again to change it to SOUTH SIDE--people will know what it means."  Actually, the sign can't be read from the road (most of these buildings are falling down)--I noticed it when I zoomed in with the camera.  From making posters I know how easy it is to transpose letters.

Update Oct. 31.  I just learned from my friend Everett's comment that this was a ROLLER MILL--not a Rink.  I guess that means a grist mill where flour was made.  I learn something new every day.

This work has been an education in how not to work with pastels.  I began the painting at the Y; then continued at home in the upstairs bedroom.  My nose was completely stopped up from pastels.  I looked at this the following morning and thought, "What crap."  I took it outside, whacked it against the side of the house, then used a house painter's brush to remove all the pastel.

I started again--got about three-quarters through and suddenly decided I should glue the paper to an Ampersand board.  To ventilate the workshop while spraying glue I opened both doors; then had trouble with placement of the paper--15 minutes is a long time to hold one's breath.  I covered the painting with wax paper, rolled it to remove bubbles, and used three of my wallpaper sample books to weight it down.  It worked.

I then put the painting on my "big easel" (for you, Celeste) and applied pastels to the sky and water tower.  The pale blue fell down onto my buildings!  It looked like sheets of rain.  I cleaned it up by blowing the dust and repainting; now I believe it's almost finished.

First I need to figure out how to cut off the top two extra inches of Wallis paper (18x12) without smearing the work; I cropped the photo.  I don't want to think about framing--glass, spacer, frame, fingerprints, etc.  I'll worry about that later; I just ordered a set of watercolors.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Shelter, acrylic on linen panel, 12x12
Earlier this summer, as I let our dog Willie out for his last pit stop each night, I was delighted to see small birds sleeping in the corners of the porch.  They'd turn their heads, look at me, and tuck themselves back into their corners.   Once, around midnight, the moon had tucked itself into a corner, too.  I made several sketches (below) before painting.  Our street has street lights--rather than shoot them out, I guessed at how the scene might look on a dark cool night, and added the house at the top of the street (actually it's my impression of the house--can't see it from my porch).  I can tell by the light (which needs to be dimmed along with my signature) that my neighbor's home--upstairs, probably at the computer.

1st sketch

2nd sketch

Interesting that I see these columns at least ten times a day and don't know their curves until I paint them.  This is probably the fourth time these columns have appeared in my paintings; one day, I might get past my front porch and paint other streets or towns.
I just re-read The Writing Life by Annie Dillard.  She is so right--the artist or writer begins with a vision; time and materials hound the work; the vision recedes.  At the end, you have a replacement of the vision--a page.  
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Drawn from Life and Virtual Walking in New Orleans

Drawing of me, 20x16
©Terry S. Denton
(I have trouble taking photos of drawings on white paper.)

Yesterday--Thursday--was my Art at the Y day.  I was joined by a wonderful artist, Terry Smith Denton.  I've known Terry for a number of years; our first meeting was at my sister-in-law's restaurant (when her husband Mike put out a fire I accidentally started).  We usually talk at the grocery store, and her cart is usually filled with healthy stuff (unlike mine).  Being with her for three hours at the Y was a real treat.  She has a degree from VCU (sculpture) and attended Pratt.  When I was in the suburbs in the 70s (driving that station wagon) she was a hippie--alas, I was born too early.  I like hearing about NYC and other places, and the art world she has known.  My town is lucky that Terry and Mike chose this area--they live waaay out of town (beyond the internet), take care of their oodles of acres, and their goats and chickens.  Terry had a great exhibit last year, mostly portraits, and Mike builds docks and houses and has worked at getting our local airport up to speed.

Terry set up a still life yesterday--a vintage stuffed monkey (Percy, I believe).  First, she finished the drawing of me; then finished two great drawings of Percy.   Hmmm.....I was the warm up for a stuffed monkey?  My husband loves the sketch and thinks it looks exactly like me.  I think it's a bit flattering but I recognize my extra chin, my missing neck, my mother's nose, my dad's long upper lip--and I'm wearing my ever-present hoops and a men's shirt from the thrift shop.  Yep, that's me.  I would not have been able to pose for something like this; she sketched me while I was drawing New Orleans (below).  I hope to submit it to TheVirtualPaintOut--a first for me--hope I can follow directions.      

720 Brooklyn Avenue, pencil, 9x7
I chose this scene on my virtual walkabout in New Orleans because I liked the wires and the poles (and I got tired of walking).  

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Hurricane Irene

Summer Wardrobe, graphite on gray paper, 8x8
Two and a half days without the internet--I felt I should do something productive while it was down (re-connected this morning).

I reviewed my summer wardrobe--a linen jacket with huge pockets (pants are someplace), old but goodie Eileen Fisher black slacks, a silk blouse, an old but goodie DKNY blazer, a black "funeral" dress, and a silk print blouse.  I didn't move these to a closet; instead, I drew them.  Now I know where my extra hangers are! 

Imitating Art
I put away varnishing and framing materials (cleared some walking space in the workshop).  Last week, before varnishing, I had to try imitating Painter's Salute--setting the timer on the camera, grabbing the paintbrush, and running around the counter to get into position.  Not easy.  On Friday I had delivered this painting to Convergence Art Guild in Halifax VA for an upcoming exhibit of self-portraits.

Virginia 13-year Cicada
On the way to my workshop to frame Tabernacle Road yesterday I noticed a dead cicada--picked it up, blew off the ants, and spray varnished the big fellow.  He's on a slice of cucumber on a Fiesta plate.  Canape anyone?

Southside Virginia was fortunate--Irene (the middle name given to me at birth) brought hours of wind and rain but no damage and no loss of power.  We lost our Verizon internet connection because it comes out of the Hampton Roads (East Coast) area--they had major damage.

Let's see--one hurricane and one earthquake--do cicadas count as locusts?

Tonight I'll catch up on all the blogs I follow.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

VA Earthquake

My house, August 23, 2011 at 1:51 p.m.
I was in the right place--upstairs, kneeling beside my bed.  I wasn't really doing the right thing-- I was retrieving a bottle of acrylic medium from under the bed (yes, a few art supplies are stashed there).

As I got up, I noticed the bed shaking and thought some huge animal had gotten inside and was jumping around; then I noticed the ceiling fans swaying.  I stared at a vase moving on top of a pile of books and realized what was happening.  I headed downstairs where my husband, in the computer room, was staring at a picture that had fallen onto the floor, and Willie, our dog, was on alert.  We just waited; we never thought of going outside.

Across-the-street neighbors called and my up-the-street brother called; he said he moved here from California to get away from such things.  About 120 miles south of the epicenter--we felt it.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

My Wallpaper Samples Adventure

One huge book of wallpaper samples on my dining room table
The adventure began several weeks ago.  After lunch with a couple of friends, one picked up some paint at Sherwin Williams.  Since it was 100 degrees outside we all went in and I sat at the table that's set up for selecting wallpaper.  Out of the blue I decided to ask what they did with their old wallpaper books.  The young man said they're thrown out, so I left my card and asked if he'd call me--I thought the pages would be neat backgrounds for paintings (and I love recycling things).  He called and I picked them up last Saturday.  I carried one eight-pound book into the house and loved all the patterns and colors.  I couldn't wait.

I immediately tore a small piece out of the book, then tore a sheet of watercolor paper in half, glued it down and got out a few acrylics--alizarin, umber and white.  Using a large brush I played--I liked it-- but the paper was a bit wrinkled.

The next day, I used a ruler to tear out a beautiful beige 8x11 piece.  In my kitchen I coated the paper with acrylic medium and set it on the deck to dry.  Whoops--it's raining.  I ran out and brought it inside--no harm done.  It was off to the workshop to paint.  Paint what?  I spotted an old yearbook and picked a faded photo.  I painted; then I hated the beige background with the skin color, so I covered it with black.  Next, I coated the back of the painting with acrylic medium; then I glued it to a piece of mat board.  That's when I began to wonder why I hadn't just used one of my primed canvases or panels; after all, I had completely covered the background--my whole reason for using wallpaper!  I could have saved several days.

And it's not a good portrait!

She looks better tightly cropped.

So-------need any wallpaper sample books?

It was a wasted week but fun and I'll try it again.  I think I've defined the problem--I picked up 13 heavy books on the 13th of the month.  I usually don't leave the house on that date.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Southern Virginia

Looking East, graphite/white pencil on gray paper, 7x7
Sometimes, when driving home in the late afternoon, it's hard to keep my eyes on the road.  The sky is always beautiful.  I recently detoured to a side road and checked the view from atop what I've always known as Tharpe's Hill--just off Route 58.  I looked east towards my hometown of Clarksville and saw about fifteen miles of rolling hills and tree tops--all green.  A great place to live and breathe.

I'm still playing with my pencils.  This paper is from a Martha Stewart pad, something I picked up at Michael's, for crafting I believe.  It's acid-free--grays and browns-- but has a sheen; not the best for drawing but it was handy and fun.

Friday, August 5, 2011


Sheet!, graphite on bristol, 14x11
A guest is arriving tomorrow--an old friend.  I'm setting up the guest house and I always have trouble getting the top sheet even on all sides of the bed.  I never know if the finished hem should go down or up.  This is when I wonder if I should have skipped an art class and taken a home economics class in high school.  Nah--my housekeeping methods are more fun.   I'm grateful that my mother never taught me anything about housework or cooking (I suspect she didn't have the patience).  She did ask me once to slice cabbage for coleslaw; I suggested we pass the cabbage around and have everyone take a bite.

After searching for a couple of weeks, I found my tin of graphite pencils three days ago.  Despite my intentions of readying the house for company I couldn't resist drawing--hiding out upstairs with my pencils H & B through 9.

Now I'm off to put those sheets on the bed; I hope there's no graphite on them.  I'll be ready for my guest by 2 p.m. tomorrow; if not, the refrigerator is stocked with his favorite drink and I've made dinner reservations at his favorite area restaurant.

Monday, July 25, 2011

April on the Front Porch

April on the Front Porch, acrylic on canvas, 30x24
Hallelujah--I think April is 98 percent finished.   I originally blogged about her on May 23 (I should have listened to that voice that was saying "larger.")  After she grew, I felt she needed a throne rather than a metal outdoor chair so I had to visit the thrift shop and look at chairs--all mine are modern.  (Here in southern VA we don't really have indoor furniture on our front porches, but I did have a toilet sitting in the front yard for a while.)  I wanted an old Coke bottle as a vase but mine's gone missing; at midnight, I substituted a piece of van Briggle pottery--that meant getting the ladder and retrieving the vase from a high shelf.  My paintings sometimes become projects and I work through the night. 

I like that April's arms are wing-like and her legs resemble the Colonel's drumsticks and thighs.

When I signed this I was listening to KD Lang and the Reclines; KD was singing "Big Boned Woman."  I imagine April dancing at the Legion Hall.

This is not my first work with a woman and rooster; there was a sculpture 20 years ago--Mystic Woman aka Chick with a Chick (photo below).  She was sold to a sculptor from West Virginia.

terra cotta and white clay, 24" h

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Convergence Art Guild in Halifax VA

Waiting for Harry, acrylic on panel, 20x16

I hung a few paintings at CAG, 99 Main Street in Halifax VA.  Among them is an early acrylic, Waiting for Harry

Harry was our letter carrier in Brookeville MD in the 70s, when Brookeville was still mostly rural.  One woman liked to wait at her mailbox for Harry and, in cold weather, she sometimes wore only her fur coat (don't know how Harry knew that).  I never met her but I imagined she might look like this.   I like the impatient attitude and the knife-wielding shadow in this one.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wrench Stole my Muse

Wrench Stole my Muse, inktense pencils on w/c paper, 18x24
Thursday is Art-at-the-Y day and I had nothing in mind.  I remembered that a heavy wrench from the thrift shop had been riding in my back seat for a couple of weeks.  I grabbed the manikin and set this up on a cardboard box--lighting at the Y is not good.

The manikin was a gift from my neighbor Carol--it had belonged to her late husband Lamar.  Lamar was a saxophonist/choreographer/dancer/artist/human resources director/sociologist/truck driver/motorcycle rider.... and the best story teller I've ever met.  He would have liked this drawing.  His manikin usually sits atop the bookcase in my living room, always in a dance pose.

This needs a bit more work.  

Friday, July 1, 2011

Cedar at Cedar Grove Plantation

What a Cedar!, w/c sticks on w/c board, 24x18
I began this yesterday, thinking that it would be simple and I'd finish at least one thing during the month of June.  It didn't happen--at midnight I realized there were too many background trees and branches so I'm calling it finished on July 1.

Cedar Grove Plantation (on the National Register of Historic Places) is nearby.  When I visited I found the trees and the cemetery more interesting than the large house, guest cottages, barns, landscaping, and antiques.  I could be called a tree hugger.   "Peace," also a scene from Cedar Grove, is from an earlier blog. 

Peace, alkyd, 12x12 (sold)
Happy Fourth of July!