Flower for Gabriella 9-7-2014


Gayle's flowers 9-7-2014

Roses card 9-7-2014


Why do greeting cards cost so much?   Why?   It’s a piece of paper with something printed on it.   I love the cards at Papyrus with their glitter and sparkles and hand made things glued on top of other things.  Then I think to myself, I can glue things to other things.   After 3 hours of cutting and gluing I think, I could have just paid $4.99 for a card and be done with it and gotten my 3 hours back.   And then what if you need like 4 cards all at once. Then you have to decide if you are going to buy lunch or buy cards!

I wanted to send some cards to friends who had done some very nice things for me.  So I painted them.  No gluing, no sparkles, but at least they were hand made and I hope they liked them.   Someday, when I am no longer working full time for the man, I will stay home and glue things to other things and maybe have my own card collection.  When I was in college my friend Jim and I always dreamed that we would have our own card/stationery/disco store.  (Hey, we dreamt big in those days.)  If I had a job where I could cut things out and glue them to other things, I would love it.  Yes, I know it’s called kindergarten, but hey…I’m young at heart.

On another note, I had to fly recently.  I am not a fan of flying.  I don’t like it for many reasons.  The claustrophobia, the cattle-car experience, the seats that get narrower and narrower while Americans get wider and wider, the nickel and diming of the airlines who now make us pay to check a bag (how am I supposed to fly somewhere and stay for more than a day without clean clothes?) and the fact that now you can’t bring anything with you through airport security so that bottle of water you could buy on the street for a dollar is now $10,000 in the airport store.   So when I read this article https://medium.com/travel-adventure/what-its-like-to-fly-the-23-000-singapore-airlines-suites-class-17d9f3fee0d I thought to myself:

1.   I want to fly like that!

2.  When the revolution comes, the people that fly like that will be the first to go!!!


Asparagus at Market BasketPhoto by Mary Schwalm

Asparagus is the only thing left in the produce section of Market Basket during the recent boycott.  I wonder what it says about the people in that neighborhood?  If you don’t know the story, Market Basket is a grocery store that treats its employees pretty well and they can actually make a decent living according to my friend and photographer extraordinaire Mary Schwalm. The majority owners ousted the CEO Arthur T. Demoulas and replaced him with Arthur S. Demoulas. Yep,  they are cousins so this wasn’t just business drama, this was also family drama! Customers and workers boycotted until the old CEO (Arthur T.) was reinstated.  Yay Market Basket.  My friends in New England are happier today.


I felt badly for the asparagus.  So badly I decided to paint some.  Now that I’ve painted it, I’m going to steam it with some olive oil and a pinch of Himalayan pink salt and eat it.  But only the tips.  I don’t really like the stalks.  So out they go.  Sorry stalks.  (I will put them in the compost pile now that NYC is composting.)

Reid's palms 8-17-2014My version of Charles Reid’s Palm Trees – 140# 1/2 sheet Arches Cold press

The Husband is almost retired from the NYPD.   Although we are both too young to retire permanently, he can always retire and get another job.  He says he wants to be a dog walker. That’s fine with me.  He loves animals and they love him.

But it got me to thinking.  What would we do if we were really retired and on a fixed income.  I recently told a friend that I liked the words “Trust Fund”. Unfortunately I doubt the words “trust fund” and “Carol King” will ever be uttered in the same sentence.  However, I have some sentence examples if anyone is interested in helping a girl out:

“Carol King, we like you so much we set up a zillion dollar trust fund for you.”

“Carol King, because you do some much for everyone else, I’d like you to take over my 20 million dollar trust fund and live in my townhouse on East 71st Street off 5th Ave which, by the way comes with a live-in house-keeper and chef.”

“Carol, you know I don’t like living in the City anymore, but why don’t you live in my 15 room apartment in the Dakota.  I’ve set up a Trust Fund for your living expenses.”

Other phrases I like:

  • Expense account
  • All inclusive
  • It’s on us
  • Rebate
  • Free

Another friend once told me that if she was at the point where she was eating cat food, she would make sure it was at least Fancy Feast.  I do wonder what life would be like after retirement.  Would I like it?  Would I be bored?  Would I do all the things I say I want to do and then never do.  (paint, draw, learn Spanish, read all those books, exercise, learn yoga?) I know when I’m off I have a tendency to start watching daytime TV and next thing you know BAM it’s 5 pm and I’ve lost the whole day.  Or I start to sleep later and later and then stay up all night.

The same friend who said she will eat fancy feast if it came down to her eating cat food also has a rule that she will not turn the TV on until 5 pm.  I think that’s a good rule.  I won’t follow it, but it’s a good rule.

Right now this is all just speculation.  I’m not retiring anytime soon.   So excuse me,  I have to go back to work filling out forms and dealing with red tape.

Not having any inspiration to paint I pulled out a Charles Reid book and decided to paint from one of his paintings. Palm trees and a beautiful beach.  Maybe that could be me and The Husband?  Hmmm, retirement wouldn’t be so bad.

watercolor FLORIDA watertowerThe South Lake Apopka Water Tower in Tildenville, FL. – watercolor on 300# Arches 

I have lackawaterphobia.   The fear that there will be no drinkable water in the future.    California is in a severe drought. Lake Mead’s water level continues to recede and the Colorado River is drying up.  And what about fracking and how it sets water aflame?

Shall I continue?  If you insist…

In Charleston, W. Va., a chemical used in the processing of coal leaked from a ruptured storage tank into the Elk River, contaminating the water supply for about 300,000 people. In Toledo,  the water supply for over 400,000 people was declared unsafe because of the presence of microcystin, a toxin released by algae blooms in nearby Lake Erie, the source of the city’s water.

When my dog-walking buddy Charlie still lived in NYC he was FIXATED with the levels of the reservoirs we have in upstate NY that provide water to the City. He would check the levels continuously and worry if he thought they were getting low. We got along based on our neuroses.

Sigh,   there is no place to move.   Every place is too hot, too cold, or there is no clean water to drink.   I feel like Goldilocks trying to find the state or area that’s “just right”.  If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

And now that there have been reports of bedbugs on the subways, that may actually push me over the edge into leaving my great city.

The above painting was done using a reference photo from my friend Jim.  It was taken in Florida, a state with great beaches, but not so great drinking water.  Once again I started with a grisaille, a paynes gray value painting.  I then dripped both clean and highly diluted water of paynes gray and raw sienna.  Finally I went back, added some local color, defined areas that needed it and softened some of the edges where I splashed water.

Thanks for visiting.



sunflowers and statice FINISHED 9-7-2014
Sunflowers and Statice – watercolor on 1/2 sheet of 140# Arches coldpress

I haven’t posted lately because I have iron-poor blood.  So said my doctor, but once again, I didn’t need no doctor to tell me I was anemic. When my iron goes too low I crave olives.  CRAVE THEM.  MUST HAVE OLIVES!!!

The Husband HATES olives so when I’m going for the jar he runs for the hills.  (And when I say hills I mean out of the kitchen.  You can’t run that far in my apartment.)

She (The doctor) also told me my blood sugar is too high which I also knew.  Why do I pay these doctors? I have accurately diagnosed myself more often than not.  Just call me Dr. House.

High sugar and low iron = me being tired.  All the time tired.  Even more tired than I usually am, which is a lot.

Oh well, no one wants to hear me complain, even though this blog IS titled “Drawing, Painting, Complaining” so it’s not like you didn’t know what you were getting into.  :)

I was finally able to finish this painting even though I needed a lot of naps during the painting process.  In fact, I need a nap now.  Thanks for stopping by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.



“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.


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