To Be Continued…???

I’m back. Posting just a little tonight. One of the unfortunate side effects of moving west is leaving our sports teams behind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big sports fan. Actually if I never watched a sporting event again it would be fine with me. I think it has something to do with my childhood. My Dad played professional soccer when I was a kid. Every weekend my Mom would dress my sisters and I in matching dresses, frilly socks, with bows in our hair, and make us sit on the sidelines watching our Dad play. The other kids would be running around enjoying themselves, not us, we were like little matching dolls all sitting in a row. These days I’m just trying to be a supportive wife. The Blackhawks are in the playoffs, and if we want to see them we have to go out, and of course they went into triple overtime. We thankfully left before they lost. So here I am writing at ten when I should be going to bed.

I did manage to eke out a watercolor this afternoon. Still working on my super secret project that I can’t unveil as of yet.  The lovely Theresa came by today and gave me some beautiful tulips. I managed to paint them right before we walked out the door. Tonight is my last night of posting retrospective work. I’m still not sure now that my year is up how I will proceed with this blog. Lots of changes ahead in my life, most of which I can’t reveal quite yet, but I missed writing when I took the night off. I can’t promise myself that I’ll write every day, but I feel like its been something to hang onto in these troubled days since Dan lost his job. I think we know what we have to do. Making the plan is the easy part, jumping into it is a whole other matter. That may seem a little cryptic, but I will explain in time. Meanwhile, the last of my favorite pieces, and the first to head into the future. As for this blog and project? The title says it all.

4 17 14  Today’s work












photo Riley, one of my cats in pencil.





IMG_9711  The children’s play area that we built for the children at our daughter’s wedding.




image  The tabletop I painted based on a vintage French powder tin that I own.





Ab aeterno (4)  Altered Art. The photo is from a gravestone in Virginia.





005  A piece I did fairly early in the project. An ode to my artistic journey.

Marker on Bristol.



5 13  My faux brick wall, made entirely from cardboard. My most often pinned pin on Pinterest.




image  Pastel desert scene.






6 3 3 6 3 (1)  The “before” and “after” of a table I bought for $5. Wood burned design painted with pearl paints.






IMG_0831 Theresa’s old kitchen cabinet door. Canvas cut to size to fill the center. I reproduced the business card of the restaurant where Dan and I had dinner in Paris for our 20th wedding anniversary.





12 20 Riley once again in pencil.




IMG_3262 The sign I made for my daughter and son-in-law for Christmas. Cardboard and burnt glue.





12 25 Custom designed Christmas fairy.





IMG_3427IMG_3430  More of the burnt paper and glue on a cardboard pencil box base.





2 7 14 (1) Polymer clay sculpting attached to a small cardboard box.





2 23 14 (2) Old window transformed into a memo station with mirror.




3 24 14 Another cabinet door.





4 4 14 (1) Antiqued mirror with one of my Paris photos tinted sepia.





There were a few more pieces that I love, but I’m tired. I think the triple overtime did me in.






Oh No, I’m Addicted

Last night was the first in a year when I didn’t post. I actually took a day off, and you know what? It was sooo hard. To begin with I started to feel guilty, like I wasn’t doing something that I was supposed to do. (It’s the whole Catholic thing, its ingrained in my brain) I was working on something creative, all day in fact, but it wasn’t something I can share as of yet. It’s a gift for someone, a very involved gift, and its a surprise. Late in the afternoon I began to feel the pull of the blog. Feeling the need to produce a piece of art to put up, and then I realized I didn’t have to. I’m dead serious, I was feeling like a bad person because I hadn’t produced anything. It may be time for an intervention. I’m still in the middle of my very involved gift, so for tonight more of my retrospective of a year’s worth of art. Paintings in oil and acrylic, and one pastel. Tomorrow the last of the retrospective and new art!

IMG_9703   This is an oil done entirely with palette knife. It was a first for me. It’s based on the view from my studio window.


square painting cropped  Acrylic, based on a vintage Japanese mirror from the Forties.





Pear Pastel (3)  Pear pastel. My dear friend loves pears.





gate  Oil. This is the door to a garden in Santa Barbara. I call it “My Secret Garden”





DSC05785  The Kitchen Worker. Oil, inspired by a photo in Gourmet magazine.





6 7 (16)  Oil on board. Inspired by a vintage illustration.





608 (2)

Waterlily’s, because every artist needs at least one right?




6 15  For Dan. His Dad’s watch, penknife and martini glass, oil.






Temecula. Oil



7 11  Acrylic on canvas. I was imaging an old Polaroid.





7 12  Acrylic garden shovel. Inspired by a photo in Country Living.





7 22  Oil on piece of old wood. For my Mom who loved Lilac.





8 2 (2)  Oil. Painted this in roughly two hours, right out of my head.





8 6 (1)  My first abstract.





8 16 (2)  Oil. Palette knife and thirty minutes.





8 20

Another Waterlily in oil.




IMG_1062  Oil. Painted on a day when I wasn’t feeling great and my wonderful husband painted a version of his own alongside me to help me get past my artistic block.





10 11  Acrylic. An attempt to capture the colors of Maxfield Parrish.





winter scene

Old work, oil on canvas with a great story to go with it. (If you are interested, “A Little Tale”, posted 12/11/13)



12 24  Brian, my son in oil. An “orphaned” painting from many years ago that I finally rescued.





12 23


Acrylic. Palette knife once again.


12 28


Oil. La Jolla, California, from a photo I took. My favorite piece from the entire year.



cropped barn  Oil. From a photo I took in California Central Coast farm territory.



3 7 14  Oil. A really old one, but a favorite.




3 25 14 An abstract in Acrylic.



Leave My Clock Alone

Spring back, Fall ahead. My head is spinning. I have had insomnia since birth. My parents tried everything to get me to sleep. Crushed sleeping pill and sugar mixed together on a spoon? Check. Shots of Chianti for a nine-year old? Check. They really did try everything, it just didn’t work. When I wanted a day off school all I had to do is pretend to sleep, my Mother thought I was ill. I still struggle nightly. I rarely if ever sleep through the night. I hate DST, you know Daylight Savings Time. I hate it so much that I refuse to reset the clock in my truck. I leave it be, my stubborn silent protest. Not that I don’t enjoy a little extra sunlight, and lovely summer evenings. I just want it to stay that way all of the time. I know it sucks when people have to get up early to go to work and it’s still dark out. I did it for many, many years. I would sit on the edge of the bathtub at five a.m. and bemoan my fate. I would actually moan aloud saying, “Nobody should have to get up this early.” The unfortunate thing for me is that when the sun comes up so do my eyelids, no matter what time I hit the sack. (I believe I may have been a rooster in another life.) This whole DST throws me off my game. It takes me weeks and weeks to adjust. In the mean time I wander through my day struggling to keep my eyes open, not to mention that when I’m tired, I’m hungry, not a good combination for me. That is when “you deserve this, you’re tired” makes an appearance. That is “not good enough’s” roommate in my brain. (Yes, there are voices in my head, most of them are very nice and offer fairly good advice.) I actually Googled DST, long boring explanation followed, I will not share, bore yourself if you must. So here I am after ten in the evening, which was actually nine just days ago. It is almost time for bed, but I’m not tired. I could stay up (I am sort of a grown up), but in the morning when the sun rises at seven a.m. my eyelids will open, and I will inwardly weep for the hour of sleep that is lost.

Today I had a really great compliment. I happened to run into Mia, whose portrait I have been working on. I also had my sketchbook on hand. I opened to Mia’s portrait and showed it to her, and asked if she knew who it was. “It’s Mia.” My day was made. When a two-year old can recognize them self in your work I think that’s pretty awesome. I worked on Mia’s portrait again tonight. She is just too cute to be shades of gray.3 11 14

Writing By The Rules

I received an email not long ago from the folks at WordPress. I’m sure many of you may have received it as well. It was about avoiding the grammar police. I didn’t read the email, although maybe I should have, but I’m pretty sure my grammar isn’t all that terrible. I did of course have English in school, but I finished school more than thirty years ago. Sister Charlotte, my freshman year English teacher was deaf. Seriously deaf. So deaf that we obnoxious young ladies of St. Scholastica would run our pencils along the grated book holder attached to the desk when her back was turned just to make sure. She was a very sweet old woman, far nicer than we probably deserved. It was the year in high school that we were supposed to be focused on grammar, but sadly we didn’t learn a lot. It was there however that I discovered my favorite book, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. All these years later it is still my favorite. I reread it from time to time for pleasure.

The other year in my academic life that was focused on grammar was seventh grade. Mr. Helms, a former Boys Town educator, was my teacher. We were terrified of him. Rumor had it that he killed a kid at Boys Town. There was a boy in my class, Austin H., a troubled kid who I later heard sadly died young. He acted out in class one day and Mr. Helms took him out into the hallway. I’m not sure what happened, but everyone swore there was blood on the wall. I don’t think he even noticed me, well except to call me Marion. Marion is my older sister, she is blond, I was not. Unfortunately seventh grade was also the year my eyes abandoned me. I desperately needed glasses. It took me the entire school year to convince my Mom that I was blind, so essentially I missed the whole year. I couldn’t see the board if my life depended on it, and I was far too afraid of Mr. Helms to talk to him. I suffered in silence. These days thanks to “spell-check” my spelling is usually correct. Except that once in a while it changes a word on me that I don’t catch until the next day when Dan points it out. I don’t know about anyone else, but I swear I read and reread several times before I publish, yet there it is, the wrong word. It happened to me just last night. As for the spelling, I recently heard about a German study that is going on. The German scientists are testing their theory that when we get older our memories fail not because we are decrepit (my word, not an official study term), but because our brains have so much information in them that it takes time to push through all the clutter and find what we’re looking for. (Again, me) I love this theory, it makes me happy. As for grammar, I have been corrected from time to time by my children. They are very smart and educated people, so am I, I just don’t put as much thought into sentence structure. I write like I speak, although I probably don’t use as many commas or my infamous ” …’s” when I talk. (Is there a name for …? Dot, dot, dot?? Is it etc.? I forgot, it’s in the back of my cluttered brain) I do care that what I write is readable but I’m more interested in getting the thoughts out of my brain and onto the page than sweeping through the cobwebs in my mind to remember that I am writing a really, really, really run on sentence.

This morning Dan and I had a wonderful hike through the lovely Santa Rosa Plateau. We were fortunate enough to see the vernal pools. Vernal pools, also called vernal ponds or ephemeral pools, are temporary pools of water that provide habitat for distinctive plants and animals. (That sounds really smart doesn’t it? It’s from Wikipedia.) We are lucky enough to have these pools at the Plateau in the Spring. We got out there at about eight thirty. It was sunny, but there was still fog billowing in from the coast. Just beautiful. I was inspired to try to capture some of what we saw in pastel. Pastels are not my strong suit. I find them a difficult medium and don’t understand why I torture myself with them. First photo is my pastel of the vernal pools. The second photo is God’s handiwork, I just snapped the picture.

3 6 14IMG_5877

Sun Kissed Trees

They’re here, the snowmen. It took me roughly two hours to arrange them, there are far too many, and it seems like an awful lot of work for the amount of time that they are out, but I do love my snowmen. In particular, as I mentioned last night, things my kids make are always my favorites.  The collection was never meant to get this large. I had intended only to collect vintage snowmen, but you know how it is. People think that you want any snowman and they begin to buy them for you. Then thanks to my Catholic brain, I feel too guilty to not put them out. You never know when someone might fly in from Chicago to make sure that the gift they gave me ten years ago is still on display.


An embroidery project from Brian in the third grade.


And a reverse glass painting Jessica did at home with me at about age six.IMG_3219

The entire display. We have an old built-in from Chicago that we bought at a salvage yard and restored. It makes a perfect snowman display case.


All this Christmas decorating doesn’t give me a lot of extra time for art, but I was in the mood to draw tonight. There have been some particularly beautiful sunrises in the last few days, and I wanted to recreate one. I was looking to do something soft so I decided on pastel chalk. I didn’t want to do a complete landscape. I love the way that the morning sun kisses the tops of the trees. 12 18

Treading Water

I don’t swim. Lessons courtesy of the Chicago Park District were an abject failure. I do however do a wonderful dead man’s float, trouble with that is I’m face down. I lack the skill needed to move my arms and legs at the same time. Too much to think about, my head is full of much more interesting stuff. (OK, so I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. It is definitely a coordination issue.) I bring this all up because I feel like I’m drowning in too much to do-ville. I am miles behind on emails, sorry Lisa, Karen, and anyone else I am behind on. Phone calls? Just family these days for the most part. Seeing friends? I can’t remember what most of them look like. Getting a business started is no easy task. I also have a very big house which is suffering from three cats,glitter, California dust, and a twenty-three year old (I won’t say who….initials B.Z.) then there is this, my project, and it’s accompanying blogging, and then I decided to sell my stuff on etsy, oh and I signed on for not one, but two Christmas shows. We had fast food for dinner tonight. We never, never, ever eat fast food, but as I watch the waves approaching I asked for a life line, Five Guys Burgers, and by the way, I don’t usually eat burgers. Years ago I worked in customer service, I made jokes about becoming an air traffic controller. My job at the desk included, cashing checks, customer complaints, bottle returns (I’m clearing the cobwebs off myself as I speak…), carpet shampooer rentals, answering the phone, taking the cash pick ups from the register, customer returns, film developing, checking in the armored truck delivery, and more. That seems like a cakewalk these days. First of all I’m older, and have less energy, and at least at the grocery store I had fellow employees. Dan does what he can, but there is a lot that is just me. I think I bit off way more…than I was prepared for. (Bet you thought I was going to say “more than I can chew”. I’m right, aren’t I?) I’ll get it done, all of it. I’ll manage to get the house clean for the holidays, make enough fairies to supply a small fairyland army, decorate my home for Christmas, shop for presents, cook, grocery shop, open a business……help! I’m drowning.

For tonight just a little representation of how I am feeling. A little pastel chalk, pencil, and pen. Wait, not so fast. Notice the fish scales forming on my legs, its my confidence growing, one scale at a time. My head should be above water in about a month.. I am a very determined woman. If you see me face down remind me to turn over.11 20

Not Music To My Ears

I’ve been known to air a pet peeve or two here on this blog. I do it for a number of reasons, the first of which is that I sometimes get tired of myself. I began the blog a little on the “woe is me” side of things. I realized that I could only continue to feel sorry for myself for so long. I was boring myself. I wanted to give the people who were kind enough to follow along something interesting to read, and finally because as I pointed out a long time ago, this is my blog I make the rules. This gives me the right to yell to the world about what in life I find annoying. As always I add a disclaimer. This is my opinion, and for me that makes it right. I firmly believe everyone deserves the right to feel what they feel, and I have the right to feel that they are wrong (just kidding…sort of). Today I think I may stand the chance of being agreed with by all. Why? Because today I am going to rant about music. I love music. Not all music. I really hated Country for a long time, but more and more cross over artists have swayed my opinion just a little. I still really dislike some of it, but the torch has been passed. Reggae now reigns supreme in my most hated music category. Can’t stand it, nails on a chalkboard for me. In general my biggest issues tend to be not with the music (except for Reggae, I hate everything about it), but rather the lyrics. I’m a word person. I really listen to the words. When my daughter was a teenager I lectured her severely on the purchase of an Eminem CD. I read the lyrics and was horrified. She received a long lecture on the history of the Women’s Movement, the sacrifices made, rights earned, and how she as a woman should be outraged. I’m sure in her mind she was rolling her eyes, but I felt that strongly about it. What started my little rant today was a phone call that Dan made. He called about an electronics product that we had repaired. The repair isn’t the issue, it was the horrible music he was forced to listen to as he waited. I’m not one that enjoys the loop of the “We will be right with you” robo voice, but I think I would have rather have listened to that. Several weeks ago I was in the Ladies Room of a national restaurant chain, forced to listen to the lyrics, “She got red so now I got the blues”. Kill me now. And in the bathroom no less, no escape. Earlier in the year I actually complained to a very high-end clothing store, again a national chain, because the lyrics I was forced to listen to while on hold were so offensive I wrote them down in order to repeat them to the operator. Does anyone listen to the tracks they are putting on these phones? I’m sure some people would assume I’m a cranky old lady, I’m not. I think I’m the only Lady Gaga fan in the house. It’s just that I want to choose what to listen to, not have it forced on me by some anonymous computer. I also again respect your right to listen to what you want while you drive, but could you turn it down at the stop light? Please? Aren’t those the songs that become the “ear-worms” that you can’t get out of your head? So now I have that rant off my mind, but there is still that song stuck in my head…She got red, so I got blue. Can you hear the sounds of me smacking the side of my head?

My pastels were still out on the table from last night, and I had some beautiful sunflowers from Emily, so Ta Da!  (or is it Ta Dah? who knows?) A project for tonight. A pastel and pencil sketch of my flowers. Perspective is questionable as always, but then it wouldn’t be mine if the perspective was perfect, would it?

11 6


Setting Sun

Steps in the right direction today. We did make the move to set up our home office for our business, and I made an effort (again with Dan’s support) to get to a project earlier in the day. I had planned on working on my grandfather clock, but  need to get a few supplies for that, so I instead had planned on a watercolor. Then I went out as the sun was setting behind the Santa Rosa Mountains. The mountain’s silhouette edged in rose and gold, the sky still clinging to its vibrancy as the sun set over the Pacific. I love watching the sun set here. Unfortunately for me the mountains stand in the way of witnessing it more often, but I’ve seen it enough to imagine how magnificent it is. The rose and gold gave way to an almost turquoise, fading into a deep ultramarine blue. The moon was a near perfect circle edged in white, but forming a crescent to one side. As soon as I saw the sky I knew that my project had changed. I will never have an ego big enough to think I can do justice to Heaven’s palette, but I felt inspired, and knew I needed to try to capture what I saw. I thought about oils, but I decided to give pastels another try. These are soft pastels, chalk like (note to self: Do not use soft pastels while sitting on white couch!) I think I might like to try this same drawing with an oil pastel as well. There have been days during this project when I have struggled with what to do that day. Not feeling inspired, or just being plain lazy. I love feeling inspired and knowing exactly what I want to do.11 5

Heading Into Midterms

At the birth of this project the object was to use up the supplies I have on hand in my studio. The project evolved into much more than that, but the original purpose is still a challenge to be met. It’s been a while since I’ve written about my artistic self-doubt, and feelings of inadequacy due to my lack of artistic schooling. I bring it up again because I am nearing the halfway point in the promise of a year of art. I am roughly two weeks away, and decided to step back a little and check my progress. I have produced a tremendous amount of art since April when this all began. Not all have been pieces that I love or even like. There are some that I am immensely proud of. It is without question the most productive I have ever been artistically. The state of my studio? It pretty much looks the same. I have gone through quite a bit of watercolor paper, several canvases, some drawing paper, but for the most part it looks the same. Which is strange considering that a great deal of my materials have made their way down to our dining room, our family room, our guest room, the kitchen and even the garden. In terms of cleaning out my artistic refrigerator, I am a total failure. I might also mention here that I tend to be a bit untidy as an artist (OK, in other areas as well, particularly when creating in the kitchen), I’m working on it. However, the clutter in my brain is beginning to straighten itself out. Not that I don’t still have total meltdowns and think my work is crap. Years of self-doubt aren’t that easy to shake off. It is just that I am feeling more fearless in my art. I don’t give up when I begin to feel “not good enough” trying to sneak back into my brain. I do have to admit that there are a few recently orphaned canvases that need to be addressed. Oil is still my big hangup. Patience is really in need of attention.I have of course recently professed my new-found love of pen and ink. My watercolor skills are much better than I realized. So as I near that halfway mark I think I’m doing OK. I give myself high marks for growth in artistic confidence, but I am failing in making myself and art a priority. I am still cranking this work out after dinner. That’s right, ninety percent of the work that I have produced and posted on this blog have taken place between the hours of seven and ten at night, including writing. I guess I have to stop and ask myself what the problem is. What is the roadblock in my way? I don’t know. I do know that I can see what I am capable of in three hours, imagine what I could do if I actually gave myself time.

I decided to head up to the studio and dig out something different. Pastels. Which I will now admit I am discovering are not my favorite medium. The point is to use up the supplies. I’m trying! This piece is based on a photo from La Jolla Cove here in Southern California.9 24