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Kaiya – 5 years old – May 2010

When I moved into my apartment it was located in a “transitional” neighborhood.  There was a corner bodega with bullet proof glass that did a brisk drug business.  Empty lots dotted local blocks.   And shady looking kids hung out on the corner.  It’s  NOW a very desirable location.

If there was any doubt at all that my neighborhood has experienced full-out gentrification (actually, there was no doubt; it happened years ago), this latest experience sealed the deal.

Time: Evening dog walk (approximately 9:45 pm)

Place: 4th Ave in front of McDonald’s

Situation: A man in a suit is complaining to two police officers that he walked up to the McDonald’s drive through window and the man wouldn’t sell him two cheeseburgers.  AND THEN, apparently the McDonald’s’ employee said something like “you people”  which caused Mr. Suit to feel he was being discriminated against.

Charlie and I were extremely amused by the whole exchange but when a SECOND police car came screaming down 4th Ave., lights and sirens blaring, made a U-turn and pulled up on the sidewalk in front of Mickey D’s  I looked at Charlie and said “THIS is the biggest thing happening in the 78 precinct tonight?”

Apparently it was.

Since Mr. whiny suit wearing yuppie didn’t have a license plate nailed to his ass and the drive-through window guy didn’t want to serve him, Mr. wswy CALLED THE POLICE?  Really?  The police?   And they showed up at the scene of “the crime”.  We were amused for days.  I would have given the employee a frosty glare and gone home.   Damn entitled yuppies.

Another way to tell your neighborhood is too gentrified?  When your dog’s bed looks more comfortable than yours. Here is a sketch of Kaiya, our 5-year-old Akita/Shepherd/Lab(?) rescue on her new bed which is “paprika” and black. Paprika? You bet!  That’s what the catalog said and I’m sticking to it!   She’s about 95 lbs, and is a great dog, is very loving, except when those really yappy dogs start with her (I’m talking to YOU, Mango)  or when she meets another Alpha female.  Oy!

Could be worse.  I could be trying to get two cheeseburgers from the drive-thru at  Micky D’s without a car!

I love infomercials.  From “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” to the miracle of orange-glo cleaner.

After a few investments in infomercial products I have (I think) finally learned my lesson.  If it’s good it will eventually end up in a Bed Bath and Beyond.  Usually in the Beyond section.  If the product is really bad, it will only air at 3 am when most people are known to drunk dial their way to a number of assorted household gadgets or items touted to make you look years younger and sizes smaller.

Flipping through the channels I came across an infomercial for a body shaper that will make you look 20 POUNDS THINNER! Can anyone say “sausage casing?”   I have learned from many years of dieting that the only way to look 20 pounds thinner is to ……. wait for it ……… lose 20 pounds!

Buy one of these body shapers for your torso and you will have a neck bigger than Lou Ferrigno as the Incredible Hulk.  This infomercial was followed by a new wave oven gizmo that magically cooked frozen chicken in 13 minutes.   I changed the station.

In an effort to learn more about the actual handling of watercolor I painted a couple of small images.  First a few pink trumpet flowers.   Then some peas and pods.  I was happy with both.   Hope you like them too.


Ginkgo leaves 9″ x 12″ on 140# Arches cold press

Blue Shadows 9″ x 12″ on 140# Arches cold press

I walked onto 5th Ave yesterday and WOW!  The trees all have white flowers on them.  Yippee, it’s Spring.   I can’t wait to see the cherry blossoms this year. In the meantime, Happy Easter.  Don’t eat too much chocolate. like I’ve already done.

I used  leaves to create the two images above.  I came up with a composition that I liked, and then painted a light wash around the first leaf. I then added a second and a third (both in leaves and washes).

According to my brother (who won’t read my blog) it’s not Easter until he sends me this:

It makes me laugh every year.  Enjoy.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpT1vGpo5H8

Tulips and Cranberries (almost done)

Tulips remind me of springtime.  And springtime reminds me of Easter.  Easter reminds me of food.

And food reminds me that I saw my first freegan this week.

I’d heard of freegans, but had never actually seen one. What’s a freegan?  It’s a person who is not homeless, yet chooses to “dumpster dive” or go through garbage for food.   The guy I saw was bending over and going through big black garbage bags.  He pulled out a bunch of bananas and put them in one of the three recyclable bags he was carrying.  You know those bags that every store now sells so you can use them instead of getting plastic bags.  But then every time you go to the store you forget to bring the cloth bag and end up buying another one until you have more cloth bags than you know what to do with?   Yeah, those bags.   He had 3 of them.  Probably all from Whole Foods.  (a/k/a Whole Paycheck.)

Anyway, this guy seemed like he was getting quite a bit of food out of the garbage bags.  At least that’s what I thought until he moved to the dumpster in front of Key Food (a local grocery store). There was a veritable BONANZA of food.   There were some tossed cartons of  tomatoes that I actually had my eye on. Ok, not really, but those tomatoes did look pretty good in the dark.   I thought it odd that while the freegan was piling his bags with food,  the real homeless guy who sits in front of Key Food and asks for change had his back to the dumpster and had no idea what was going on behind him.   The whole scene was a bit surreal.

I almost finished Tulips and Cranberries but wanted to post it now since next weekend is Easter and this week will be busy at work.  I’ve been TRYING to not overwork paintings and to leave more white of the paper for highlights.  I read somewhere that it’s better not to finish a painting then to finish it and take the chance of overworking it.  So here it is, not quite finished.  I will go back and indicate the bottoms of the tulips and the edge of the vase but other than that, it’s done.

Happy Passover to all my friends who celebrate, Happy Easter to the rest of my friends and family.  Happy Spring to everyone.

Ryan’s Poppies – Springtime Challenge – 9 x 12 on Arches 140# cold press paper – SOLD

My comment in a previous post about “who doesn’t love flowers” generated some comments.  Apparently there ARE people (besides my mom) who don’t like flowers.  Specifically cut flowers.  Kung does not like flowers.  Christine does not like flowers.  They both just see dead things.  (Could this be a movie sequel?)

Christine once said (talking about a bouquet which had come from a large nursery)  “While others may see a bouquet I see oppression world-wide.” Hmmm.  What do I say?  I sympathized, understood her sentiment and then calmly and quietly said  “So if you don’t want them can I have them?”

Ryan had a springtime challenge.  He posted a reference photo a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun for us to paint it and all post on the same day.  Turns our Ryan forgot one very important detail.  His 25th wedding anniversary plans. Luckily his wife set him straight and we got a few extra days to post.   Can’t wait to see everyone else’s version of “Ryan’s Poppies.”  Here’s his version.

The cityscape got worked and worked and worked until I didn’t care anymore and went wild.

Greenwich Street and Park Place on 140# Arches Cold Press

I just could NOT get the image I wanted, but ended up with an image I (sort of) liked.   I wanted to do something with this painting, so I used some Caran d’Ache watercolor markers on it.    I’d never used them before and got some very interesting results.  They blend like watercolor paints so in a few spots where I used them I went over that area with water to blend them with the paint already on the paper.  In some spots, I used them just as a marker, going over areas and outlining them.

I may try this one again sometime.  Maybe at that time  I’ll be able to get the coffee cart where John and Mohammed sell me coffee every morning.  (And sometimes sneak a pastry in the bag even when I tell them I don’t want anything today.)

Three Daisies – approx. 10″ x 8 1/2 ” on 140# Arches paper

Thirty years ago (or so) Jim and I would meet on the D train at DeKalb Ave at 11:30 pm to go disco dancing all night long. Now all we can talk about are the prescriptions we take and all the ailments we  have.  Jim has experienced hearing loss due to a very severe ear infection so now we mostly e-mail since our telephone conversations are laced with HUH? and WHAT? and go something like this:

Carol: Look at that light flicker.

Jim: You want to buy some FLORAL WICKER?

Carol: WHAT?

Jim: HUH?

I’ve read about scientists who invented a mosquito buzzing sound that only teens could hear, to keep them away from loitering in front of buildings.  (My crabby old acquaintance  Mr. Mills might be interested in looking into this to keep those damned teens off his lawn.)  Of course, this invention then got turned around and was made into a ring tone only teens could hear and teachers couldn’t thereby allowing those damned teens to hear their phones ring in class when, in fact, cell phones were banned in class.  Those wily, healthy, good hearing having teens!  Grrrr!

The three daisies above were painted using glazing and negative painting techniques.  I first painted the paper with some light blues and reds leaving some white in the paper.  I drew the flowers, and  then glazed the background darkening the area under the petals.  After letting it dry, I wet some of the paper again and went back and hit a few spots with some darks to spark it up.

Does it give you the same headache it gives me when listening to kids (and sometimes adults) talking?  You know what I’m sayin’?   If you’re not sure, click on the link and listen to this: http://vimeo.com/3829682 Makes you nuts, right?

Greenwich Street and Park Place – WIP

So, like, I’m working on this painting which I didn’t want to post until I read Leslie’s post today. You know what I’m saying?   She spoke about her painting of a wolf that she didn’t want to post, but in the end she did because she realized that sometimes it’s the doing and the learning that is more important than the final product.

So here’s my street scene that I’m not, like, totally happy with, but thought I’d post since there are some important things I learned from it.   What have I learned?  I learned that I shouldn’t try to post while watching the Oscar’s AND Big Love at the same time and then forgetting to save, accidently close the blog, and losing everything I just wrote.

Oh, what did I learn from the painting?   Yeah, that’s a little harder to put into words.  Suffice to say that I learned a lot, and know that I have to keep painting & experimenting to get it right.    You know what I’m sayin’?



A wonderful class with Joan had us practicing wet-in-wet technique.  And flowers.  We practiced flowers, cause really, who doesn’t love flowers.

Well, ok.  My mom didn’t like flowers.  She complained that they didn’t last long and then you threw them out.  This was the same woman who (when visiting a nursery with my brother-in-law and his partner who is a landscape architect and knows everything this is to know about all things flowers) pointed to a dandelion and said “I like those.”   To be fair, she was born and raised in Manhattan.  What did she know?

I’m a big flower fan.  (And a big flour fan.)

But I digress….Back to the wet in wet technique.  We wet the arches paper with a hake brush, and laid down a background leaving a white area.   Once dry we wet the paper again and then painted in the flowers.  And so on.  Until we had something we liked. If the flowers look a little familiar, I took some inspiration from the poppies and larkspur painting I had recently finished.   It was a similar technique that I used for my mountains a while back.

Each of the above paintings is 9″ x 6″ on Arches 140# cold press paper.


Poppies and Larkspur –  Arches 140# cold press paper – 22″ x 15″

I do not always learn things quickly.  Sometimes I do, but sometimes I have to do something more than once to really learn it.  And sometimes I need to hit myself  with a baseball bat before I can get something into my head.

This is the second time I’ve painted this image.  Here’s the first version. What have I learned?   I know I didn’t struggle with this one as much, and I think the colors are a little cleaner and brighter…not as muddy as I can get them sometimes. If I look at them together, there are somethings I like about each.  It was a good learning experience and I DID not have to do any bodily damage to complete this.  Whew.

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