Join me....

I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Red Clover, Red Clover, Send Some Right Over

I know the game is "red rover" but
for some reason that little rhyme plays in my head while
I am looking for clover, er, foraging for clover!

I'm still on a "foraging high" thinking about all that free food out there just waiting to be sampled.  I got excited about clover ( trifolium) because it is so easy to identify and seems to be prolific.  Then I realized that there are at least two types of clover on my radar: red (trifolium pratense) and white (trifolium repens).  While they share many commonalities (good for tea making and used to add nitrogen to the soil where it grows), they are also distinct (the red having isoflavens, calcium, potassium and vitamin C, the white offers a higher protein content and helps cattle battle bloating).  

My local hunts turned up plenty of white clover (no random lucky four leaf clovers...yet) but I began to despair over finding much of the pretty, high growing red.  Alas, as we hiked on Father's Day I came upon many large patches of the variety and if I'd had a little baggie with me I would have gathered the blossoms for tea.  As it were I took photos and, tired from my hike, nibbled on a few heads (placebo affect!) while doing so.

Herewith my companion piece to the Dandelion.

Red Clover, White Clover  8 x 6
on cradled hardboard, no frame needed
$45 plus shipping

Crawling around in the fields I confirmed that the red clover leaflet (of which 3 join to make a leaf) is longer and a tad more narrow than the rounder, fatter ones of the white clover.  Both have a V-shaped white marking on each leaflet.  And while the Indians would use the red clover blossom tincture to ward off hot flashes and reduce bone loss, I can add the tiny leaves of the white clover to my soups and salads for a little zing of protein.  

detail of the 3 leaflets of both species

detail showing the red and white blossoms which are composed of 
40-100 teeny tiny little flowers

So I will match my price on last week's piece (it sold quickly, thanks for the additional inquiries) -- I know you are hoping this might be the last of my foraging efforts?!  I'm not entirely sure, I've found that painting these plants has been a great way to further my education on the identification as well as the value of each one.  Who knows what's next??

In Foraging Fun,

p.s. If you are in western NC don't forget the Tour de Art tomorrow, June 25, from 10-4.  There is a map on my facebook page here.  Open studios and an opportunity to meet the artists as you browse original work. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Waaay Under-Valued: the Dandelion

Did you know that the humble dandelion is responsible for most
of the pollution of our rivers and streams?
AND that is also one of the most nutritious plants on 
our planet? 

Well, neither did I.
So I took a foraging class recently and was literally blown away, inspired, amazed and educated.  But I can only learn so much at a time so I decided to focus first on the common dandelion, taraxacum officinale, in the asteraceae family.  Like I will ever remember that?  Yeah, but what I can remember is that dente-de-lion refers to the tooth edged leaves, lion teeth, get it?  Helps make a positive id.

About that pollution: millions of dollars are spent every year by Americans trying to rid their yards of the lovely little yellow flowers with the only result being that the poisons run off lawns and ruin our waterways....while the sturdy little weed returns again and again.

The nutrition is exceptional: the greens contain high levels of vitamin A, calcium and potassium. The teacher remarked that if word gets out how good these are for us we will probably never seen another one as they will be harvested, packaged and sold for really big bucks.

You can tell the dente de lion won me over.  So I made tea, put greens in a salad and researched dandelion wine recipes, oh and I painted them to further burn the identification into my memory.

I wanted a fun background so I started with some acrylics
until I liked what was happening

a detail, I loved finding a plant that had all 3 stages
of the flower on it....yes, I did blow and make a wish

A Dandy Deal, oil, 8 x 6, $45.00
on cradled board, no frame needed

There is a lot of information I would suggest you read as you head out to the yard with your harvest basket, one source is here.  And another, just for starters, is here.

Did I mention they are low in calories?  Did I remind you that making Dandelion Wine is one of the great rites of spring?  Need I say more?  I may get around to a series of these wonder plants but just in case I don't and you want to buy this one, (it, like the plant, is so under value!) you may contact me here.

Going GREEN,

Friday, June 10, 2016

Happy New Year Flowers

Guess I'm the odd woman-out: I've always
loved birthdays: the start of a new year,
the fact that I'm alive and usually well, and the chance
to celebrate in any way I choose....

Which, this year was going to be a quiet drink (or two) with two buddies nestled on the deck while listening to birds and watching the sun set over the mountains.  Lovely...could it get any better?

Well, it did.  A "long time-no see" friend wandered up the steps and joined us bringing more laughs and more wine.  And then another...and another...and...suddenly I realized the gang of friends had grown, quietly and calmly and the deck was filled with love and laughter.  But wait!  There's more.

Unbeknownst to me they had all brought mason jars filled with flowers from their gardens, the fields, the neighbors yard....all picked with care and offered up to me as a living color tribute to our friendship and the new year I was embarking upon.  Yes, my heart swelled.

I enjoyed the gifts as only an artist can: painted them all and then rearranged them and painted them again...

working bliss in the studio

A Birthday Bouquet
'' 14 x  11'', oil, framed
(there is an asparagus as well as rosemary in this bouquet) 

Love in a Jar
" 8 x 6", oil, framed
(note the flaming azaleas and the mountain laurel)

still more flowers so I made a new arrangement
(note the lupine curving on the right, one of my new favs,
look closely and you will also see mint, garlic
and assorted blooms)

Wild Flowers Boxed
12" x 24", oil, currently unframed

And I learned something while painting.  My heart was totally in this, no angst over details because the results were purely for my pleasure and the joy of preserving these lovely gifts. Well, I think they turned out rather nicely, don't you?  Details be damned, the process won out!

Color Fully Yours,

Friday, June 3, 2016

Do Learning Hours Count??

"How long did that boat painting take?"
asks a visitor to my studio (or art festival or gallery).
A well meaning inquiry I am sure but one that is impossible to answer
(save the old adage "63 years").
"If I were paid by the hour," I want to reply, "You could not 
afford me."
But I don't.

...a photo of boats, taken on a gorgeous evening off the coast of Naples, after a sketch in acrylic paint I switched to oils and got to work...

Not a terrible beginning but way too blue and I loved the pink sky reflected in the water... the shape of the boats was going to be a challenge....gravity and balance...

... hard to see but a warmer hue to the water and some detail to the vessels...30 minutes of thinking,  better part of an hour executing...ugh, the farthermost boat looks like a leaf floating ON, not IN, the water...and front boat now out of whack....

( An old trick of painters is to turn everything upside down so it is no longer a "thing" but a shape.  It is easier to see the edges of something if you take away its name... a lot of time in this position...not all painting but trying to see where it slipped off the rails.)

A lunch hour spent looking at the piece from across the the composition was irritating me so I paint out the rocks and most of the boat details.  All three need resizing .... guess on how many hours it took to get rocks repainted, boats reshaped and water browned "center of interest" in the front is now a disaster... getting weary but still determined.  I note my investment of time, paint and canvas and return the next day for more work.

...front boat now wider, squatter, and the yellow orange goes back to pink, the dark interior now too dark, whole thing is better suited to two... frustrated...paint palette is a mess (an hour at least of clean up...) 

OK: white flag, 'uncle.' surrender, I give....painting is to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.  I fold.

As I toss this in the dumpster pile I try, try to think of what this piece taught me, hoping that when I attempt this again I can avoid those mistakes and cut quickly to the chase of capturing the essence of my original thoughts.  

So if it falls together in 3 hours next week do I still get to count the uncounted hours it took to find my way there?

What is the most gracious way to handle that inevitable question "How long did it take you to do this?"

Still Learning,

p.s. thanks!  apparently my pilgrimage post struck a chord with many of my "type A" was reassuring to know that I am not the only one that has to be reminded to lift my head and enjoy the process along the route.  Your comments were, as always, appreciated!

Friday, May 27, 2016

Penland Pilgrimage

"She had a point.  A pilgrimage is not about punishment but
about making an intentional decision to look at the world
with fresh awareness and to consider your place in it. 
A pilgrim defines her own pilgrimage; 
maps are guidelines, not prison sentences."

by Jane Christmas

I have been researching pilgrimages lately.  I have the itch to challenge myself in some way that reveals a new aspect of the world I live in.  It's probably a sign of my age or my ceaseless curiosity but the whole idea appeals to me. So imagine my surprise when I recently realized that I had been on a pilgrimage and didn't even recognize it.

 Early morning mist at Penland School of Craft

I enrolled for a week at the Penland School of Craft in western North Carolina with my sister. She is developing a passion for pottery and while I don't "do" clay I thought it would be a fun week together learning new things.  I like to think I truly enjoy the process of exposure as I dabble in something out of my field.  I now know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to "dabbling".

 Penland offers so much: gorgeous scenery, experts and equipment in many fields, 3 meals a day, interesting fellow students, time to immerse yourself in learning...the list goes on to include yoga, late night chats, meditative walks and time to sit.  Somewhere I got hung up on the "subject immersion" part.  Without realizing it I found myself rushing through breakfast to get back to the studio to try, try, try again a technique that was totally foreign to me.  I inadvertently cut short my lunch break because the call of a failed piece was all I could hear.  And I would barely clean up for dinner as I was anxious to produce a credible copy of every demonstration we were privy to watch.

As the week went on I became more and more anxious that neither my quantity nor my quality was "measuring up."  The irony was that no one, except I, was doing any measuring.  The gal across from me took a week to make 3 pieces, the far more experienced potters behind me were crushing as many as they kept and the giggles from my sis as she broke pieces and parts were having no positive affect on my drive.  Head down, in a minute I'll be there I said, only to turn and find myself now alone in a darkened room.  Nose to the grindstone...for what?  In hindsight I have no answer.

Kiln opening is always a big deal: a reason to party and laugh and share the big reveal.  Our night was no exception.  Wine in hand we all prepared for the "really big shoe."

happy hands reach into the treasure trove of cooked pots

always a collective inhale as the lid is raised

 we gather our work and give it a closer look

I laid my treasures out at my work station and the grin slowly slid from my face.  "What in the world?" I wanted to say.  "I spent a week making this crap?"  Only to myself would I admit that 9/10ths of all I had attempted were fit for the garbage pile.  Suddenly I felt very, very tired.  Even the excitement of fellow students and their sincere attempts towards encouragement didn't lift my spirits.  And let me be honest: I was the first to admit that I had no idea what I was doing, just an interest in doing it.  What was I expecting?  And to what end?

I packed up my treasures that had now lost their luster and it was 3 weeks before I had an interest in unpacking them.  With time had come a kinder eye and I could see the things I had learned, the areas that failed and where some fun things had mistakenly happened.  Most did end up in the dumpster but I now called them "practice pieces" not "production pieces."  We had a good laugh.  Still...still...I knew there was more to this; processing takes time, mulling needs distance, analysis means stepping back.

the piece I kept - my pilgrim's token

I realize now that the purpose of my pilgrimage to Penland was not about was about lifting my head up and partaking of all that is around me.  My lesson had very little to do with wet or dry clay slabs and everything to do with slowing down and breathing in the rarefied air that exists in such a place.  I coulda (shoulda, woulda) come home with one decent piece and enjoyed the yoga, taken long walks, lingered over dinner with the writer and visited the studio next door.  This epiphany was mind blowing and, in a funny way, comforting.  It's easy to espouse what we believe but so much harder to live it.  I wanted a quantitative bang for my buck and my time, I came back with a qualitative one.   

I know this doesn't sound much like an ART blog or even a decent PILGRIMAGE story.  But it was both for me.  Have you ever been on a pilgrimage that you didn't recognize as such?  Have you ever had to learn, the hard way, how to really live what you think (or pretend) to believe?  Please tell me I'm not the only one.


Friday, May 13, 2016

A Dog & His Music

I have always wondered how listening
to different kinds of music might affect painting styles?
I'm not sure how you would conduct a conclusive
experiment but I did enjoy "appropriate" tunes while tackling this piece.

I have missed my studio, the smell, the mess, the unfinished paintings all call to me.  I have been on some fantastic adventures for sure, but I also longed for days with paints and canvas.  To ease back into the swing of paint sling I began this 12 x 9 sketch of a musician practicing in his barn.

I liked the sepia tones of this beginning and decided to keep the colors very muted (shocking, I know) for a "quiet feel."  I also began to think that this piece was mostly about the dog, faithful and attentive.  I put on some bluegrass music and settled in to work.

An early viewer mentioned that she liked the lack of facial detail so I kept the guitar picker anonymous for the most part and worked harder on defining the gestures of man and beast.  I have a tendency to get so wrapped up in the flow of painting that I work far longer than I intend to and produce way more detail than is necessary.

"A Dog & His Music"
12 x 9, oil

Done!  The photograph was difficult to take as the glare did not allow me to capture the differing tones of light colors.  But with the barn wood frame I can almost smell the hay on the ground...and I am certain that this sweet hearted canine is about to break out in song.  And bluegrass was definitely appropriate as background music.  

Muting the Colors,