Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Painting at 6200 feet!!

Come mid-June the rhododendrons on the Roan are in full bloom and it is a perfect time to go painting outside.  Roan Mountain is on the border of Tennessee and North Carolina.  Roan High Bald is 6,285'.  One of the highest peaks east of the Mississippi. And always an adventure when painting.  Another artist friend was there just last week, painting while the winds blew 50mph!!

Early this morning, four of my artist friends and I headed to the Cloudland Hotel site on Roan Mountain to do some painting.  The Cloudland Hotel was built as a luxury resort in 1884.  It straddled the NC/TN state line.  There was a line painted across the floor of the dining room indicating the state line.  Alcohol was legal in Tennessee, but not in North Carolina, so if a guest wanted to drink she/he needed to be on the "right" side of the line!  There isn't much of the hotel left there now, other than the remnants of a patio and stone wall. 

Due to the elevation, we never know what to expect when we head out to paint.  The temperature is usually a minimum of 10 degrees lower than where we all live (at about 3,000 feet).  Sometimes it is clear, sometimes covered in clouds.  It can be very windy.  And the weather can change in an instant.  I've been going up there to paint for about 6 years now, and each time is a different experience.

Today was amazing!  I arrived about 8:30.  It was cloudy, but I could see blue sky near the horizon both on to the east and the west.  By 9:00, the "fog" moved in and we were in a engulfed in a cloud.  The rhododendrons are in full bloom.  Set against the deep green of the spruce/fir forest, the pink of the rhodies is amazing.  The cloud stayed around till nearly noon - only allowing the sun to shine through for moments at a time.  We finished up just before noon and sat down for lunch.  The sun came out.  And then.... just when we thought the fog was done for the day... another cloud approached and we were once again engulfed.  It makes for a mystical world up there, that's for sure. 

Here are photos from this morning....

In the clouds at Cloudland

Cloudy Cloudland

By the time I finished - the cloud lifted
and another mountain appeared!

We were here!!

Thanks so much for stopping by!!!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Misty of Chincoteague.....

When I was a kid, horses were my passion.  And Misty of Chincoteague, written by Marguerite Henry and illustrated by Wesley Dennis, was a favorite book.  The combination of a story about horses and the beautiful illustrations definitely shaped my future with horses and art.  (I still have my copy of that book!)  

Even though I've lived near the east coast of the U.S. for all my life, until a couple of weeks ago, I never traveled to the island of Chincoteague to see the wild ponies for myself.  

Our first evening on the island, I went on a walk in search of ponies.  I hadn't gone too far when I saw.....

Chincoteague Island - odd looking ponies!!!

Well, no ponies on that hike.  Those llamas were still there in the morning and were joined by a Sandhill Crane!  He appeared to be just "one of the crowd" - all as interested in me as I was in them.

Eventually, we made it to downtown Chincoteague and found the statue of Misty.....

Misty of Chincoteague statue

Across the street from the statue of Misty, in front of the Island Theater, are Misty's footprints!!!...

Misty's footprints

There is a wildlife refuge on Chincoteague, but dogs are not allowed - not even in a vehicle, so I never did see any wild ponies on Chincoteague.  But... I was not without hope, because the next two nights we had reservations to camp on the Assateague National Seashore.  There are wild ponies there, too.  And apparently it was my lucky day, because there was a pair of them hanging out near our campsite when we arrived.  

Assateague Pony Mare.

There are warning signs all over the park - "Caution Horses Bite and Kick" and photos of chunks taken out of people who ventured too close.   While the ponies were grazing in the campground, the "Pony Patrol" rode by on a bicycle to keep an eye on people and ponies both.  At one point, a pair of ponies (including the mare above) was grazing right up next to the tent in the site next to ours.  The "Pony Patrol" man got off his bike and was encouraging the ponies to move on, when the stallion turned his rear end towards the man and delivered an amazing "both back legs at once" kick.  The "Pony Patrol" went flying backwards and landed on the ground. I was sure he had been kicked, but he claimed he just lost his balance trying to avoid the kick and wasn't hurt.  Later in the day, I saw people petting the same mare in my photo when she was standing on the boardwalk to the beach.  I'm not sure what part of "leave the wildlife alone" people just don't get.  (If you've read this far, do the animals a favor, please, and leave them alone!!)

That's my turn on the soap box for today.

Thanks for stopping by....


Thursday, May 19, 2016

Birds and raccoons......

If you follow my "sporadic at best” blog, you may remember that my paintings were juried into the Toe River Arts Council’s (TRAC) gift shops earlier this year.  I’ve been busy painting for the gift shops (in between amazing road trips!).  I’m really enjoying painting on these basswood rounds.  The bark left along edges creates a “frame” and adds a bit more of a “mountain” feel to it, I think.

One of the birds that I see frequently around our house is the Eastern Towhee.  They tend to hang out in the bushes and love to dig around in the dirt.  I love their colors - black on top and white on the bottom with beautiful reddish brown sides.   And I think this one is particularly pretty on the basswood round.  You can see him in “real life”  and make him yours at the TRAC gallery in Spruce Pine, NC.  

Eastern Towhee - oil on basswood round
(about 7" wide)

TRAC has an auction each year to raise funds and they have come up with a new plan (in addition to the auction) that seems to be working well.  Last year, artists were asked to donated “boxes”.  Think outside the box.  Create a box.  Decorate the box.  Paint a box.  It was really fun.  This year, artists have been given an 8” x 8” board and asked to create on the board.  Students in the local schools were also given boards to create on.  And each 8x8 board will be for sale (not auctioned off). All proceeds from the sale of these pieces will go support TRAC's programs and operating expenses throughout the year. The 8x8 exhibition will begin on June 18th and run through July 9th.  You can read more about it on TRAC's website -

After several ideas about what to create on my 8x8 board, I was inspired by photos of raccoons taken by my wildlife camera.  They’ve been coming around every night, scrounging for tidbits under the suet feeder.   I got to work on my board with my oil paints and created this little rascal looking out of a “hole” in the board.  And I must admit, I’ve fallen in love with this one and had a hard time letting it go.  Maybe I’ll just have to go to the sale and buy him back!!

"Peaking Out"
oil on board - 8" x 8"

Thanks so much for stopping by…. 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Low country time....and Girl Scouts

Two weeks ago, I was back in Beaufort, SC for the first time since my 3 month stay there last winter.  It felt good to be back in the Low Country.  We were camping out on Hunting Island - a South Carolina State Park on the coast.  It is a dog friendly park and dogs are welcome on the beach.  Since we travel with two dogs, we really appreciate dog friendly areas.  

Our first morning, the dogs and I were out on the beach at sunrise.  We repeated this each of the 4 mornings we were there.  The tide was low at sunrise and there were long stretches of sand to walk on.  And at sunrise, we had the beach pretty much to ourselves. 

Hunting Island Sunrise

Immediately following my beach walk that first morning - and before breakast! - we left our campsite and headed for a marsh scene I spotted the night before.  I had my paints with me.  It's been a really long time since I've painted outside and I was really looking forward to it. Well... best laid plans, as they say.  I got outside of the van with my paints and was immediately swarmed by tiny no-see-ums.  Ugh!! I grabbed my paints and took refuge inside the van.  I didn't let the bugs stop me from painting, though.  I set up in the passenger seat and painted in my lap, looking out through a bug smeared windshield.  The first photo below is of that bug smeared windshield and the second photo is of my painting.  It wasn't nearly as difficult to paint from the passenger seat as I imagined it might be.  The van has a center console that was perfect for holding my water container (I was using water-mixable oils).  My brushes lay nicely on the dashboard.  And my painting box sat in my lap.  About an hour after the bugs chased me inside, my painting was finished and it was finally time for breakfast.  And only 9:15 in the morning! Wonderful way to begin a day.

Bug Smeared Windshield View of the Low Country Marsh

Spring Sunrise on the Marsh
6" x 8" - oil on paper 

Earlier this week - after returning to the mountains - I was “the guest artist” at a Girl Scout meeting.  The Scouts were about to earn their painting badges.  I talked to them about my life as an artist and showed them some of my paintings. I knew the girls were going to be young, but for some reason, I thought they were going to be about 7-10 years old.  To my surprise, the girls were more in the 6-7 year old range. They seemed so young!!  But….they were very attentive and one of them even told me that I am a “good drawer”.  After my talk, the girls painted.  Their leader set up 4 painting stations that the girls rotated through.  One was a mural that they all worked on, another was a still life of a stuffed horse and a ball, another was “paint the color that makes you feel calm” and the last was to paint with things from nature - sticks, leaves, rocks - use them as tools or make prints with them.  The girls had a blast.  We talked about mixing colors as they painted. And the option of not painting the color you see (the brown stuffed horse was an instigator of lots of color conversations since they had no brown to paint with!)  Pretty complicated topic that they had no trouble grasping.

This post is getting rather long.  I have several new paintings waiting to be shared with you, but I'll save them for another post.  Thanks so much for stopping by!


Friday, April 08, 2016

One door closes......

Most people are familiar with the phrase "When one door closes, another door opens".  Earlier this year, I found out that a gallery my work has been in since moving to North Carolina was closing its doors.  I'm always sad when a gallery closes, but this one was local and the I'm particularly fond of the owner, so this closing was a bit more personal.  Her decision was a good one for her, but our community will not be the same without her gallery and I know we will miss her tremendously.

But, as I started with, there's this phrase "...another door opens", and I'm happy to announce that my work is now available in the gift shops of the Toe River Arts Council (TRAC).  There are two gift shops - one in Burnsville and one in Spruce Pine.  (North Carolina) In fact, currently there is an exhibit (it runs through May 7th) in the Burnsville gallery of the work of all the new gift shop artists.  Here's a link to the online announcement for the exhibit:    

The work that I have in the exhibit is a series of wild birds that are painted on 5" x 5" canvases.  The canvases are 1 1/2 inch thick and are perfect for sitting on a shelf as well as hanging on a wall.  If you haven't been to the Burnsville TRAC Gallery, stop by and take a look.  You'll find a treasure box of art there.  The address is 102 W. Main Street, Burnsville, NC.  

Getting accepted into the TRAC Gift Shops was great news, but I suddenly realized that I need to get to work and create more paintings.  And then... I saw something... and I had an idea and couldn't wait to get started.   Today I put that idea to work and I'm delighted with the result.  The painting below will be available at one of the TRAC Gift Shops just as soon as the paint dries.  And more will be on the way soon!   This Eastern Bluebird pair is painted on a "basswood round".  (To prep the board, I put painted 3 coats of clear gesso on it, sanding between the first two.  Then, I put two coats of gesso on the back.  That step may not be necessary, but I like to think it will help preserve it.)   

Eastern Bluebirds
oil on basswood
7.5" x 8"

Thanks for stopping by!!!


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Guilty Again!!

I am guilty of blog neglect once again.  My last post was about 2 and 1/2 months ago.  Yikes.  

The good news is that I've been busy painting.  In addition to painting the little mice in my Baseboard Mice series, just in time for Christmas, I painted a step stool for a grand-daughter.  The Sesame Street characters I chose were a blast to paint.  All those bright primary colors were just plain fun.  

And then..... I got started on two dog portrait commissions (THANK-YOU!).  This handsome boy's name is Buddy....  

Buddy - 11" x 14", oil on canvas

And this is Mayah....  

Mayah - 14"x 20", oil on canvas

Both Buddy and Mayah were shelter dogs.  Mayah is a 10 year old, 8 pound Chihuahua that rules her kingdom.  Buddy is a Labrador/Pointer mix.  His owner tells me he is sweet, cuddly, funny and SMART!  

Buddy's and Mayah's paintings will be on the way their owners later this week. And as with all my portraits, I'll miss having them in the studio with me.  

That just about covers my art activities since my last blog post.  There are more dogs waiting to be painted - hound dogs this time!!  Can't wait to get to those!!  Plus, one more stool.  This one has Winnie the Pooh characters.  

Thanks so much for stopping by.   I'll be back ..... 


Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Bubba - finally finished!!!

Between painting all the mice and the Christmas Pony, this painting of Bubba has been pushed to the side waiting to be finished.  He's almost done - a second coat of paint along the edges are all that's required and he'll be ready to hang on the wall.  Now, finding the time to do that may be another issue!  

But... here he is.  I'm very very fond of this painting.  I love his eyes and all his wrinkles.  This was started with a layer of red paint on the entire board. I've let lots of that background show through behind Bubba.  It seems to dance without being distracting and provides a nice contrast with the solidity of Bubba.  

Bubba - oil on cradled board - 6" x 8"    $240

Bubba is one of the dogs at Fifi's Friends - where I found my dog, Maggie. Although the majority of the dogs at Fifi's are hounds, Bubba - a bulldog -  found his way into Pam's heart.  Bubba needs a home as the only dog - or maybe one other dog - and with people who understand the power of positive behavior reinforcement. Pam says that bulldogs need lots of rules and boundaries.  If you think you might be Bubba's forever person, you can contact Pam through Fifi's Friends' Facebook page...  or through the Petfinder page... 

As with all my paintings of the dogs from Fifi's Friends, 25% of the sale of this painting will go to Fifi's Friends.  If you'd like to bring this "version" of Bubba into your home, just click here.

Thanks for stopping by..... I hope you are enjoying this busy holiday season.