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central-park-benchCentral Park Bench – watercolor 16″ x 11 3/4″ on Khadi paper.  Based on a reference photo by Randi Klein.  (Thanks Randi!)

My sister’s golden retriever, Gus, gets to run freely around outside because of an invisible fence which keeps him safely inside the property.  Recently, however, the invisible fence broke and now Gus keeps running off the property and into the road.  My brother-in-law said that he was going to build a wall and make Gus pay for it.  We laughed and laughed.

The above painting was done on Khadi paper.  This is an interesting watercolor paper to use.  It’s made in India, is 100% cotton rag made from old tee shirts.

http://khadi.com/about-khadi-papers/about-the-paper/

I found it a little harder to use than Arches because I was unfamiliar with the way the paper reacted to the water and pigment.  One interesting thing about this paper is that you can abuse it and it doesn’t fall apart.  However it can ball up if you try to scrub the image.   It worked well on this snowy scene.

sunflower-past-its-prime

Sunflower past its prime – colored pencils in notebook

Another drawing above from my Nature’s Notebook class.  I’m still enjoying the class and this City girl is learning more than she could have imagined about the flora in local gardens.

I try to keep my blog apolitical.  All I’ll say is so far we are three weeks in and I’m ready to build a wall around myself.  I will happily pay for it.

Thanks for visiting.

 

 

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red-bud-leavesRed bud leaves in autumn – watercolor in sketchbook

Where have I been? asked no one.  I haven’t posted since July.

Why?  Two words.

                                     SWING STATE.

Since I’ve previously only lived in NYC, which is decidedly democratic, the experience of living in a swing state with the non-stop barrage of political ads left me in a fetal position and under the covers. And now that the campaign is over I can share an experience or two with you.

As a result of a car accident, The Husband has symptoms of something called meniere’s disease which can cause temporary deafness in one ear.  As I sat on the sofa watching TV one night and he at the dining room table listening to the TV, I noticed him shaking his head and rubbing his ear.  He kept losing his hearing and couldn’t figue out why the meniere’s was so bad that night. Finally he realized that I was was muting the TV every time a political ad came on. He thought his meniere’s was really bad that night and he couldn’t figure out why his hearing kept coming and going!

ppw-and-carroll-street-park-slopeNYC urban sketching  – PPW and Carroll Street, Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY

My friend’s husband, John, has lived here for over 20 years but never became a citizen.  He finally became one this year and was so exited to cast his vote for president for the first time.  In an ironic turn of events, he got home that night to discover he got his first Jury Duty notice.

river-oil-sticksRiver landscape – oil sticks

The top watercolor was done in a sketchbook for a class I’m taking called Nature’s Notebook. We hear lectures on plants and then draw and paint everything flora.

The building was done in a sketchbook with the NYC Urban Sketchers in Brooklyn, NY. They are a wonderful group and if you’re in NYC check them out. Anyone can meet up with them and all levels are welcome.

Finally I recently tried oil sticks.  A little different than oil pastels.  They are fun to work with and dry within a few days.  They are made by an artist named Paul DeMarrais.\, http://www.pauldemarrais.com/westminster/index.html

Back to my fetal position for the next 4 years.    Thanks for reading.

chardinOil painting after Chardin – WIP – approx 8 x 10″ on canvas paper

begonia leaf

Begonia leaf – graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

rhododendron leafRhododendron leaf –  graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

hydrangeaHydrangea –  graphite and colored pencil in sketchbook

Miss LucyMiss Lucy from the St. Croix markets  – Watercolor for #worldwatercolormonth

The Husband and I recently went to see the band Kansas at the Thomas Wolfe arena in Asheville.  As we were driving to the venue we ran into some friends.

US:  We are going to see Kansas.

Them:  Asheville gets the best bands…40 years later.

I wasn’t expecting much, but Kansas was actually pretty good.  As we left the Husband said “They sounded as good as they did on my 8 track cassettes!”

I’m still taking the “nature’s notebook” botanical drawing class.  I just started an oil painting class. I haven’t touched oil paint since the mid seventies which is interesting because I was only a toddler in the mid-seventies.  🙂

We did our first painting, above, as an exercise in looking at values.  We used one color and white. I used burnt umber and copied a still life from Chardin, suggested by the teacher who is big into the old masters and which auto-correct wants to change to chardonnay.  Perhaps if I had some chardonnay while painting, it would have been easier, but I am not entirely displeased with the result.

I have not been neglecting my watercolors.  Above is a picture of Miss Lucy from St. Croix with a reference kindly supplied by Bonnie Luria, formerly of St. Croix and now comfortably settled into Asheveille, NC.

Happy 4th of July everyone.  (And even if you don’t celebrate it as a holiday, it’s still the 4th of July and I hope it’s happy for you.) Thanks for looking.


two slices to goTwo slices to go –  watercolor on Arches 140# coldpress

Did you ever say anything and as the words exited  your mouth you thought “never in a million years would I ever think I would say that”?

It happened to me two days ago.  As The Husband and I were preparing to leave the house to go pick up friends we saw a mama bear and cub in a neighbor’s yard and continued to watch them as they proceeded across our road, down our driveway and around our car.  It was then that I realized we would be late.

ME texting friend:  We will be late because there are bears in our driveway.

FRIEND who lives around the corner and knows about bears:   HA!

I guess this is our new normal.  They are cuter than NYC rats and about the same size.  🙂

Bear in drvieway 1

Bear in drvieway

bear - these weeds taste good

The Brother, sister-in-law and two nephews were in town last week.  We had a great time but despite all of our talk about bears they didn’t see a one.  What they did do is sing a song that I now can’t get out of my head.  It’s called: It’s raining tacos and it’s very catchy.  Have a listen. You’ll be singing along with me.

The above painting is based on the two slices I got on a recent trip to NYC. Nestled between the 8th Ave. subway entrance at 40th street and a homeless shelter was a hole-in-the-wall pizza place and the pizza was yummy. And just as much fun to paint.

 

 

 

waiting“Waiting” 22 1/4″ x 15″ watercolor on Arches 300# cold press

I’ve always wondered this?  I guess I am too old to write “U” for “you” and “Ur” for “your”.  Unless you’re on Twitter, why would you write this way?  WHY?  Or should I ask “Y”???

On a completely unrelated note, Mexican food in Western North Carolina (“WNC”) is a sad state.  (And don’t even get me started about pizza, which, for the most part, is just vile here.)  There’s a restaurant not far from our house where we go to sometimes.  It makes me crazy that they offer rice OR beans with their meals.   RICE OR BEANS ? EVERYONE knows that it’s Rice AND Beans. They go together.   Like cookies and milk,  peanut butter & jelly, wine & cheese.

Ugh! Rice OR Beans!  Makes me crazy.  I give them a lecture whenever I’m there.  Like they care.

Waiter thought bubble: “Shut up crazy gringo lady.  You want rice AND beans, order the rice and get beans on the side and get over it.”

OK,  I’m over it.  In Maine where my old dog walking buddy Charlie and his wife Liz now live they have a Mexican restaurant called El El Frijole (LL Bean).  I laughed and laughed when I heard this. Maybe they can’t cook Mexican food well in Maine, but at least they have a sense of humor about it.

Finally, the bears have returned.   We saw a mama and cub crossing the road on the late dog walk about 2 weeks ago. Seeing them announced the arrival of spring and also had us quietly but quickly backtracking back to the house. As soon as we saw them, we noticed the trees started blooming and the daffodils and crocus have come up.  Groundhog Schmoundhog. We got bears!

The above painting was one I posted sometime last year but it wasn’t quite finished, but now it is. And for no reason here’s a painting of an Asheville fire hydrant:

asheville fire hydrantAsheville fire hydrant – 9″ x 12″ watercolor on Arches 140# coldpress

It looks a little drunk but it was fun to paint.

Thank U for visiting.

 

 

pastel landscape - rightonChalk pastel on Canson watercolor paper approximately 8×10″

Not long ago a neighbor talking to The Husband and me uttered the phrase “right on”.

What? I had not heard that phrase used in regular conversation since the 70’s. And then I heard it again. And again. And again. From different people. Is “right on” a thing now?  Has it returned?

I immediately thought of that classic anti-war song by Arlo Guthrie where he sings “you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant” at the draft board:

“You know, if one person, just one person, (says) it, they may think he’s really sick and they won’t take him.

And if two people do it, in harmony, they may think they’re both f*****s and they won’t take either of them.

And if three people do it! Can you imagine three people walkin’ in, singin’ a bar of “Alice’s Restaurant” and walkin’ out? They may think it’s an Organization!”…

Now I’m not saying that “right on” is an anti-war phrase like “you can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”.  I’m asking, if you hear a phrase you haven’t heard since the 70’s more than 3 times is it now a thing?

Or do I have too much time on my hands?  Ok don’t answer that.

Cathyann Burgess, a former virtual blog friend and now a real friend invited me to her home for a pastel lesson with 3 others. Not having any pastel supplies Cathyann generously let me use hers. The above painting was the result of the day using a reference supplied by Cathyann. As I was leaving her house I was asked by the other students, “did you like using pastels?”  I replied that I thought Cathyann was like a drug dealer.  The first one was “free” and now I’ll be off at Cheap Joes buying whatever pastels I can get my hands on.  I loved it.  Messy, but I loved it. Right On baby.  RIGHT ON!

 

 

 

3 ravens not pumped3 crows – watercolor on Arches 300 lb coldpress

Western North Carolina welcomed me. With over 300% more rain than they normally get.  Gee, thanks.  I’m aware that there was a drought, and I’m happy that it’s over, but seriously WNC.  You didn’t have to go out of your way and overdo it.

Settling in has been interesting.  The Husband and I were behind two women at Ingles, the local grocery store. They had 20 bottles of wine and a few small cans of cat food.  The Husband  looks at me and says “I hope they have a cat.”  Then my niece sent me this article: Never Drink Alone Again Because Now There’s Wine for Cats.  So there’s that. In NYC you can’t buy wine in the grocery stores, so if you were getting 20 bottles of wine AND cat food you had to make two stops.  Not here.

I did the above painting using the grisaille method, shown below.  Then I added color resulting in the painting above.grisaille crows

The grisaille has a Asian feel to me which I really liked.  But I liked adding the color as well.   Maybe I’ll do a 2nd one in gray only.

And here’s something to cheer you up for those who may feel like you’re getting a cold this holiday season:xmas tree cold products Carlene

My friend Carlene, one of the most creative people I know, got a bad cold and ran out to the drugstore for supplies.  She created this holiday tree out of her cold medicine and tissues.  I love it!

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I’m happy and thankful to have you in my life.

The Hoover Mason Trestle

Bethlehem Steel Stacks 9-13-2015Hoover Mason Trestle – watercolor on 1/2 sheet of Arches cold press

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is well known for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.  It manufactured steel and was a major shipbuilder during the industrial revolution. Like most manufacturing, steel making went overseas and the company declared bankruptcy in 2001.

The blast furnaces and a narrow gauge railroad remained and in July of this year the Hoover Mason Trestle opened.  Like the High Line in NYC which is now a park created out of a disused elevated railway, the Hoover Mason Trestle revitalized the old railroad and it’s now a public walkway/museum.

I love when the old is kept along with something new.  (Add something borrowed and something blue and we’ll all be celebrating a wedding.)

Now, as a community service, I’m giving you fair warning.  Next week will be a Trifecta of Traffic Nightmares.  Pope Francis is coming to NYC.  on September 24th.  President  Obama will be here.  And the UN General Assembly will be in session.  The Pope and the President will be addressing said Assembly.

My advice?  If you’re already in NYC run, don’t walk, out of town.  If you’re not here, don’t come to the City.  It will be a logistical nightmare.  Hey, I’m here to help.

 

trees 8-18-2015Trees –  a la Richard Taylor 9″ x 12″ on 140lb Arches cold press

I recently heard a phrase I had never heard before:  Pizza bones.

Pizza Bones??????  A friend down south said that his dog was waiting for the “pizza bones”, by which of course, he meant the crust.  And then I heard another person down south refer to pizza crust as the bones. It must be a southern thing.

I was amused by the phrase, but I must admit, in NY we would never refer to the crust as bones. The crust is an integral part of the pizza. There are some people who would say that the crust is the best part of the pizza. But now I have the phrase “pizza bones” stuck in my head and I try to imagine which part of the crust is the femur or the tibia.

And speaking of femurs, I have a neighbor who lives in a first floor apartment so she is lucky enough to have access to the backyard.  One day she was digging to plant something and dug up what looked like a human bone, or more specifically a part of a femur!   What does one do when one finds a piece of a human bone? You call NY’s Finest.  Two cops show up, look at it, scratch their heads and say “if you find a skull or hip bone give us a call back.”

OK then.

While looking through a book called Watercolor Landscapes by Richard Taylor I came across a landscape that I admired.  There was a “field of bluebells” under the trees.  I have no idea what a bluebell looks like. (I later googled it.)  Not wanting to slavishly follow Mr. Taylor’s painting I did my own version.  Look really closely and you may see some bones underneath the purple shadows.  What kind of bones you say?  I’ll let you decide.

 

 

Sunny Summer day at the BBG 2015Summer day at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden – 10 1/2″ x 15″ on 140# Arches coldpress

NO, The Husband and I are not expecting a baby.  “We’re pregnant” is a phrase that just irks me to no end.  WE cannot be pregnant. I can be pregnant.  (Well, not me, personally, I can’t be pregnant, that ship has sailed.) But I, as a female, could be pregnant.  We, as a couple, cannot be pregnant.  Last time I checked only a female can carry a baby.  (Or a petri dish, but that’s a different blog.)   I just heard a person on a talk show say she and her husband were pregnant.  After I finished yelling at the TV (something I have started to do frequently since I stopped working) I looked up the word “pregnant”.

The Oxford dictionary defines pregnant as:

(Of a woman or female animal) having a child or young developing in the uterus.

Whew,  Glad I got that off my chest.

My work here is done.

The painting above is from the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.  A beautiful sunny summer day in the garden. The paths were bright and dappled with sunlight and the flowers were in full bloom.

Kevin's card 8-2015

And the above hand-made watercolor card was done for my nephew who is off to college to study automotive repair.  Good luck Kevin!

Subway ridersAnd it was just another day on the NYC subway when I spotted these two.  I was more fixated on the fact that it was SO HOT in NY and even hotter down in the subway station and here are these two in what seemed like really hot latex body suits.  Whatever.  Luckily the came train shortly after I took this picture of them and we all went to where ever it is we go.

Bonus Fun Fact:   This symbol: # is also known as an “octothorpe”.