“Feet are never clean” is one of the gems my mother shared with me one day.  We were talking about making wine in the old days and stomping grapes with one’s feet.   Mom made a face, told me feet are never clean and went on to discuss the “pieces of flesh” that would come off those dirty feet whilst stomping on said grapes.  Which is why I will never accept home-made wine from anyone.   This was only one of the pearls of wisdom mom shared with me that scarred me for life. She also told me that when a plane lands and the pilot reverses the engines the plane could explode.

right foot left shoe 7-8-2014 drawing class

Imagine my dismay when I went to a drawing class and was told we were going to draw our foot and our shoe.   While a fun exercise which also involved dealing with foreshortening of the leg and making sure the foot looked like it would actually fit in the shoe, I had to see everyone else’s dirty feet.  (Mine, of course, were clean.) We toned the paper with compressed charcoal to a mid-tone.  We then drew lightly with either compressed charcoal or charcoal pencil until we got the shapes right.  At that point we went a little darker and the fun part was picking out the highlights with our kneaded eraser.   Drawing on a toned piece of paper was great fun.   Looking at everyone else’s stinky feet, not so much.

Which brings me to another topic.  Have you noticed that suddenly all these hipsters think it’s ok to take off their shoes in a restaurant or cafe and put their dirty feet on the seat next to them?  Where were these kids raised?   Take your dirty, smelly foot off that chair and put it back in your shoe where it belongs.

And finally, as the Husband gets closer to retirement from the NYPD he wants to drag my a$$ across the country.  Originally it was either New Mexico or Colorado.  Until we got this list yesterday:


Many people are aware of the friendly tax states for the NYC retiree, but what about the unfriendly tax states.

Very favorable tax states for NYC retirees:

  1. Alaska
  2. Florida
  3. Nevada
  4. New Hampshire (tax on interest and dividends)
  5. Pennsylvania
  6. South Dakota
  7. Tennessee
  8. Texas
  9. Washington
  10. Wyoming

Top 12 unfavorable income tax states for NYC retirees based on taxation of pension, retirement plans (IRAs, 457, etc.) and Social Security; as of 2014:

  1. Colorado
  2. Connecticut
  3. Kansas
  4. Minnesota
  5. Montana
  6. Nebraska
  7. New Mexico
  8. North Dakota
  9. Rhode Island
  10. Utah
  11. Vermont
  12. West Virginia

Ruh Roh.  I guess we may have to rethink our plans.  (Staying in NYC is fine with me).   My mom did give my sister one good pearl of wisdom when The Sister got a really good job…in Alaska!   She (The Sister) was nervous about moving so far away, but Mom told her “Alice, Planes fly in both directions.” Wow!  It helped The Sister make the move and it will help me make our move (someday) too.

I miss my mommy.

I have no painting or drawing to show today.  It is because I suck. I’ve been working on a cityscape for a few weeks and I finally realized today it needs to go in the trash. I told the Husband I was going to quit painting. He responded “yeah, you suck”.   “Stop painting.”  I hate when he agrees with me. (He has a PhD in sarcasm so I knew not to take him seriously.)

View from the roof 1

It is the end of the 4th of July 3-day weekend. I was lucky enough to get to go up to my friend’s roof for the Macy’s fireworks. She lives in Brooklyn Heights and since the fireworks were moved back to the East River we had an amazing, unobstructed view.

I was feeling patriotic so I wore my red shoes with my stars and stripes socks:

patriotic footwear


Finally the sky got dark and the lights of the City shone brightly and the fireworks began.  It was a spectacular show.

Night view

And the rockets red glare

And for no reason, here is a woman walking her chickens.  On leashes.  I wonder if this qualifies them to be “free range”? How can you not love NY?

Women walking her chickens on leases





Two hands blind contour

One hand blind contour Thumbs up - blind contour

Blind contour portrait


Every summer in June there is some sort of perfume -y smell that comes off the trees.  It is delightful.  I have no idea what tree it’s from, but it makes me happy every June.   And then July and August roll around and the City just stinks. From people, from trash, from cooking.  All those smells congeal,  bounce off the simmering sidewalks and melt into the humidity to create a miasma of Stinky Summer City Smell.  And don’t even get me started about the smell in the subways in the summer.

To emote how I feel about summer in the City, I found this handy, dandy guide about how to properly act tragic emotions on stage here.


I’m taking a basic drawing class locally with a friend.  We started by doing some blind contour drawing which Leslie White always teaches in her classes too.  If you don’t know what it is, here’s a description.  I did some of my hand and then a quick portrait of the young guy sitting across from me.  Blind contour drawings are great fun.  I should have tried a blind contour drawing of my hand holding my nose.

mi amigo 6-2014Watercolor on 140 # Arches coldpress 1/4 sheet

I got to use my figures technique from the Art Students League classes by painting this man without drawing first.  I first drew the shape of the man in one color similar to the technique I learned at the ASL like the ones here:  http://carolking.wordpress.com/2014/05/23/fleet-week-final-figures.  After the shape was right I was able to go back in and work on details.

I had to redraw his face a few times, but I must say my classes really helped improve my figure drawing.   Now that’s it’s dry I’m going to go back in and darken the area behind his back to create a shadow.

Clearly he’s tired and needed a rest from schlepping those bags.   I, too, need a rest…from all those Facebook quizzes.  Or maybe I don’t since I’m still taking them.  Let’s review: My number is “7”, I’m Water, I’m a polar bear, I should live in Amsterdam, Paris, or Barcelona depending on how many times I took that particular quiz.    I could go on and on.  In fact, I think I will…(sorry Bill Bryson.)

Some of my favorite quizzes aren’t about one’s personality.  Some of the more fun ones are “Who said that, the Pope or Lord Voldemort?”  Or: “Is it cheese or a piece of IKEA furniture?”

Sigh,  I would get so much more done if I wasn’t so curious about what home I should live in, what flower I am, or which Game of Thrones house I should belong to.   Here’s an article from the NYPost which talks about why these quizzes are so popular.  It’s interesting, but I never read anything in the Post without a grain (or whole salt shaker’s worth) of salt. http://nypost.com/2014/02/24/why-online-quizzes-are-taking-over-your-facebook-feed/

Sadly, I also know that these quizzes are data mining…trying to find out as much as possible about me so they can then sell me stuff.  It’s creepy…like the way I send an email to someone and mention oh, I don’t know, my painting and suddenly my gmail sidebar is filled with ads for watercolor paint and supplies.  Big brother is always watching.

I bet this guy in the painting doesn’t own a computer or is on Facebook.  He’s never taken a FB quiz or sent an email.  He may be smarter than all of us.  Mi amigo es más inteligente que yo.

It was so much fun to do this painting.  Yes, it’s dark and gritty.  I like that. I can hear the noise of the train going by when I look at this. I also remember that scene in the Blues Brothers movie from 1980.  The brothers are in an apartment right next to the Chicago El:

Jake: How often does the train go by?

Elwood: So often that you won’t even notice it.

Myrtle Ave. El  maybe finished“True Grit”

NYC elevated subway line, Brooklyn.  Watercolor on 300# Arches coldpress.  Size is 163/4″ x 25″

I did this City-scape in the style of Tim Saternow and Joan Iaconnetti using the “breaking all the rules of watercolor” technique.  I started with a grisaille first painting only values starting with the darkest to the lightest using W&N Paynes Gray.  Once that was done, I took a large brush with clean water and splashed that clean water in spots over the painting.  I then used a warm color, burnt sienna, and a cool color, paynes gray and splashed the painting some more.   I then left it overnight to dry.


After painting using only paynes gray and painting the values - splash with clean waterFinal Grisaille splashed with clean water.

The following day all the paint had dried and I was ready to work on it some more.   I softened some of the edges of the splashed paint, I reestablished some areas that were lost from the splashed paint and finally I added some “local” color including the orange in the sign, some blues and greens and yellows in the cars and some earth red for the rust in the steel.

After splashing with clean water splash with diluted paynes gray and a warm color I used burnt sienaGrisaille splashed with paynes gray and burnt sienna.

Seated woman 2Seated woman 1

Hello Sailor!   Which is what I always want to say to these boys and girls who are in town for Fleet Week.  I also want to break out into the Village People song “In the Navy”.   I’m sure they would think I was a kook.  It wouldn’t be the first time.

They stand out in their blindingly white uniforms against New Yorkers who are mostly clothed in the City’s official color of black.  (We are allowed, in the summer, to accent the black with white or gray and maybe just a soupçon of a different accent color for the more adventurous of us.)

Navy, Marines and Coast Guard personnel have taken to the streets to enjoy our fair city.  You can’t miss them due to the above mentioned blindingly white uniforms.  How do they keep them so white and clean and crisp?   It’s a mystery.

It’s also Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer.   Summer is not a season I am a fan of.  Too hot.  Too humid. Too sticky. Too smelly.  I already miss the polar vortex!!!!!


short poses 1

short poses 2


I completed this month’s classes of figure painting in watercolor at the Art Student’s League. This week we had a woman pose for us instead of a man. Unclothed, a bit chubby and bottom heavy.   What a difference from painting a muscular man in a tank top and shorts.  She was all curves.   It was great to have this change, to have to study her figure and her curves and (dare I say it) the flab in her belly and thighs.   Once again we started off with quick thumbnail sketches of just two minute poses or so. This time when I started the thumbnails I was told I was getting too fussy.  JUST PAINT THE SHAPES! Don’t outline, don’t draw. And then on to the longer poses. We sort of got cheated out of a 4th class because Monday is Memorial Day but the teacher, Naomi Campbell, will be back in September and so will I. In the meantime I found a figure drawing class (no instruction, but a model) close to my apartment, so I may continue there.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.   I am really looking forward to having 3 days off!  Enjoy and remember that Monday is also a day to remember the men and women who died while serving our country.



Long post - 2nd class 5-12-2014

 2nd figure drawing class at the ASL – David’s (the model) long pose 

My 2nd evening of classes at the Art Student’s League was last night.  (Boy am I tired at work today!)  Once again the format was to sketch some quick 2 and 5 minute poses just to capture the gesture and shapes.  Some of these are below.  I didn’t get a chance to take photos of all quick sketches, but you get the idea.

thumbnails 5-12-2014

I was also given home work to do a “gray-scale” (below).   I was pretty happy with it although I thought I was using Payne’s Gray and in fact I was using Perylene Green.  I realized I was using the green after a short while.   I think it’s because W & N now have those tubes of watercolor paint that are silver and you can’t read what color it is.  I need to write an irate letter to W & N’s marketing department and ask WHAT WERE YOU THINKING????

Professional Watercolor Tube, 14 ml, Antwerp BlueWho can read this tube of paint?  (NO ONE, THAT’S WHO!)

gray scale homework 5-12-2014

Finally, for no reason at all, here’s a picture my brother took of a guy running in the park.   His t-shirt says:

  • 50
  • Fat
  • Diabetic
  • Ahead of you50 fat diabetic ahead of you

I may need this shirt.


seated figure - long post

I signed up for three watercolor figure drawing classes at the NYC Art Students League with Naomi Campbell (the artist, not the model). This was the first time I did figure drawing in at least 35 years.   (When I was around 3 years old.)

Naomi only wants you to work in one color, no drawing first, no outlining with the brush.   Just use a wash of color to capture the largest shapes first.  We did a number of 1 and 2 minute poses and then a few thumbnails of short poses.  Then a long pose.  The painting above was the long pose.  The ones below are the gestural sketches. Naomi told me I used too much paint, which made me laugh because usually I use too little.  But she was pleased with my early sketches, and thought the top one was ok too, but I had to lighten it up a lot.   Class again next Monday night.   Very sleepy at work on Tuesday.

gestural sketchesModel standing hold boxthumbnails seated figure

fruit seller 4-27-2014Fruit seller – watercolor on 300lb Arches approx 1/4 sheet

A friend who is in the process of planning a party and has been accepting a lot of deliveries recently wrote and asked me the following:

I’ve been thinking about tipping lately and how ridiculous it has become.

 Why do we automatically tip 18 to 20% to wait staff?  Why is the tip determined by the cost of the food? Is the steak heavier to carry?  Does it come from a different location in the kitchen?  I think there should be a flat rate for tipping – meals under $50; $100; etc.
Also, why does the pizza place now have a tip jar?  and Starbucks?  And the guy who takes your money when you’re going into an AUTOMATIC car wash  and, oh, everywhere else.  
Should we start tipping the conductors on the subway? Or the guards in your lobby?  Should we tip flight attendants.  How did this happen?  
Sadly, I do not have any answers to these questions.  I know that in NYC everyone expects to be tipped.  I also know that wait staff do not even get minimum wage and depend on tips.  I am probably an “over-tipper”.   Especially when I get services for something I would never want to do.  On the rare occasions when I get a mani-pedi I will over-tip to the point of ridiculousness.   I can’t even get my husband of 25 years to rub my feet.  These poor women have to touch peoples’ feet all day long.  They deserve a huge tip.  Maybe CEO’s should reduce their salary by like a bazillion dollars and people who have jobs where they have to touch other people (people who are gross, or sweaty or have a rash) should get CEO salaries.
I’ve been to countries where I’ve been told not to tip.  Cabbies and waiters don’t expect it and may even be insulted.  I guess they get paid a living wage.
Certainly there will be no solutions to tipping found here. But if the woman in the above painting was in NYC I guarantee you she’d have a tip jar!
I worked a little more on this fruit seller.  I posted the WIP version a few posts ago.  I am working on trying to keep paintings airy and more “watercolor-y”.  If anyone has any tips for me, please put them in the jar (aka comment box).



Antigua - St. James's Beach 1

Sketch of the view from our room in Antigua at the St. James’s Club

The Husband and I had had enough of the polar vortex, the cold, the snow, the winter!   A trip to the tropical Isle of Antigua helped rid us of our winter blues.  The sketch above was done from the balcony of our room.  Full disclosure, it’s hard to sketch when there were never ending rum punches!

We were lucky enough to get away for a week and had a grand time.  However, before we left my sister had an Easter Egg coloring day with some friends and me. We decided to try these silk dyed eggs which one of us had seen on pinterest.

We’d done decoupaged easter eggs, seen here:  http://carolking.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/decoupaged-easter-eggs-and-a-vision-in-pink/  This process was a little more time consuming.  One needs 100% silk ties.  Alice’s husband supplied some and the thrift store supplied more.

Here are the instructions:

  • Cut up the silk ties in squares.  Make sure they are large enough to wrap around the eggs.
  • Wrap the egg with the silk square, making sure the right side is against the egg.
  • Tie tightly using a twist tie
  • Wrap the silk wrapped tie with another square of white cotton cloth.
  •  Tie tightly again using the twist tie.
  • Put the eggs in a pot of water.  Make sure you have enough water to cover the eggs.
  • Add approx 3 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • Bring water to a boil and then cook the eggs as if to hard-boil.
  • Remove the eggs from the water and let cool.
  • Unwrap the eggs and stare at your beautiful eggs.

Some notes:

  • It’s not recommended to eat the eggs since we don’t know the safeness of the silk dye.
  • My friend Jean blew the eggs out first and then did the process above so she could save the eggs forever!
  • Silk scarves and blouses might work too.  If you try it let me know.
  • The tighter you wrap the square of silk the better the designs transfer.  We were ok with the marbleized effect rather than having a perfectly transferred pattern.

Here are our results:

Silk dyed easter eggs 4-2014

Silk dyed easter eggs 2   4-2014

Here’s some  info on pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/robertm/tie-dyed-eggs/  Have fun!




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