After sixty days of what seemed to some as house arrest (stay at home order) people are finally emerging from the relative safety of their homes. During the last two months I learned how to manage Zoom, found that my twenty-five year old bread machine still works, and let my bangs grow out. There were a lot of things I did not do: learn a new language, binge watch Netflix, and clean out closets.
Spring in SoLa usually begins in late February, and there is a two or three month window of time when it’s actually comfortable painting outdoors. So when I complained about not being able to go anywhere to paint outside because of the stay at home order, my husband said, “Just go. No one will be around you.” And I did. And some of my friends joined me. And we distanced ourselves from each other, had a good time, and made a couple of paintings.
I particularly enjoyed the challenges presented by Baton Rouge Plein Air. Each week we were challenged to try something different, such as paint the same composition twice using different processes, or to make value studies and then add color. I guess these exercises appealed to me because there was not a lot of pressure to complete something frame-worthy in two and a half hours. My attention span is fairly short.
Besides going to the grocery store, Costco, and CVS, I went to my studio several days a week and worked on larger paintings. Staying close to home for two months was not a terrible experience for me. In fact, the last two months were not too different than my normal routine. With the exception of Zoom meetings.
For years I drove past this pasture filled with yellow flowers and thought how much I would enjoy painting it. I realized the property backed up to a subdivision near my home so I would get out for a few hours to paint. I met the owner as he was cutting the field as I was painting it. I asked if I could paint the front of the property, and he and his wife were happy for my painting friends and me to spend time working there. It has become our go-to place during the stay-home order this spring.
This property has become one of my favorite landscapes to paint. 11″ x 14″ $400
March 9, 2020: January and February are typically mild months in South Louisiana. The weather is comfortable enough to paint outdoors, but this year was different. If it was not raining, the wind was gusting. The skies were gloomy. My resolution this year was to paint outdoors at least once per week, but I failed. Failing is the easiest thing to do.
I spent more time in the studio painting portraits of pets, enlarging plein air studies, and working from photos. I find it challenging to paint from photographs, but since I have a bit of outdoor painting experience, it’s become easier and the paintings look better.
At least I think they do. I have also taken on a few students. Teaching is good for me because I have to think more carefully about my approach to painting. There can be no failed paintings in class!
As spring takes hold in SoLA, the lure of the outdoors is difficult to resist. The beautiful azaleas and Japanese magnolias have already faded, but soon there will be plenty of daylilies and hibiscus to paint. And lots of GREEN.
And then it will be summer, when painting outdoors in the heat and humidity makes one wish for the months of January and February, and painting in the studio is the only way to go.
March 31, 2020: Talk about this year being different!
Following the order to stay home to slow the Coronavirus spread means less outdoor painting and more home studio time. At least I can stay in the air conditioned house and don’t have to pack my gear!
The love a dog has for his/her human is second only to that of a mother for her child. Even though I don’t consider myself a dog person, I know this is true. Growing up, we had several dogs and cats, but we were not really a pet family. One of my sisters loved horses and dogs, and since we could house a dog more easily than a horse, we had dogs. My sister also likes cats but is highly allergic to them, which is sad, because her name is Cat. But I digress.
Dogs are loyal friends who think their owners are the Best Person Ever. “Be the person your dog thinks you are” is a great mantra. When a dog passes, a part of the owner’s heart is lost as well. I came to better understand this as several of my friends’ dogs crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I felt their sadness as well.
The first painting I ever did of a dog was part of a family portrait. Unfortunately, the person who commissioned the portrait thought the dog looked better than her children. I still have that painting. One day the children in the painting will look like her sons. Anyway, I found painting pets to be extremely satisfying, especially when the picture filled a space in the owner’s heart.
I commented to my husband that it seemed odd people would commission a portrait when there were probably hundreds of photos of their pet on their phone. He said (wisely) that having a painting was a memorial. A memorial to love second only to that of a mother for her child.
I did not know I was a cat person. Or a crazy cat lady.
One summer morning nearly fourteen years ago I returned from my daily walk to find a Siamese kitten in my garage. I did not know how much I needed a kitten. I resisted for weeks but when it was time to give her away, I just could not let her go. Her name is Curio because she investigated everything. Curio reigns as the princess of the house. My role is now that of lady in waiting.
Our cat family grew when we found a tiny Tuxedo kitten dodging morning traffic on a busy highway. My husband was going out of town and I had a meeting to attend that morning, so I dropped him at our veterinarian’s office with a promise that I would return later to get him. I did not know much about introducing a new cat to the family; Roberto (because he is so elegant) and Curio did not get along but soon learned to tolerate each other.
One frigid morning I saw a tiny kitten eating bread crumbs thrown for the birds. We could not bear to watch this, so of course we began feeding him. I guess this is where “crazy” happens. Topaz is a tabby with golden eyes and a great personality. Curio and Roberto ignored Topaz until he began taking over their treats and sleeping areas. He is now the largest of the three and most vocal.
Cats often show up at our house. Sorry, we are full.
I did not know how intelligent cats are. They work their way into your heart and never leave. They know exactly what they are doing.
If Curio had not wandered into my world, if Roberto did not love the camera, and if Topaz did not have that sweet expression, I would have never painted a cat. My feline family is the subject of many paintings that became Christmas cards. When my friends and I are painting in different neighborhoods, the cats find me; I often include a small cat in my landscapes.
Yes, I have become the crazy cat lady who also paints them.
Main Street Market Gallery: Come to the Red Stick Farmers Market on Saturday, August 31, 2019. I will be at the Gallery inside where it is cool with original paintings, prints, and giclees. The Gallery, with a variety of work by five local artists, is open each Saturday 8-12. Fifth and Main Street, Baton Rouge, LA.
First Tuesday at Studio 9170: Have you wondered what goes on in a studio with over a dozen artists? Stop by and check it out on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 between 10 and 4. We are located at 9170 South Choctaw, Baton Rouge, LA.
Art at the Firehouse: Members of Studio 9170 will show selected work at the Arts Council of Baton Rouge Gallery at 427 Laurel Street, Baton Rouge. A reception is planned for Thursday, September 5, 5-8.
Acadian Frame and Art: I am showing plein air paintings in the gallery. 3550 Drusilla Lane, Drusilla Shopping Center, Baton Rouge, LA
The Foyer: Baton Rouge Plein Air, a group of local artists who meet to paint outdoors, is showing work at the Foyer, 3655 Perkins Road, Baton Rouge, LA.