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.
My friend, Marylyn, and I are working through Larry Moore’s Fishing for Elephants Insights and Exercises to Inspire Authentic Creativity. We heard him speak and demonstrate at Plein Air South in May, 2019 and thought if we read and discussed it together, we would get more from it. I have begun quite a few self-help books without completing them (sound familiar?), so this would hold me accountable. At least it would provide opportunities to have lunch once a week and talk about it.
So after painting and having our chicken salad (the quintessential Southern Ladies’ lunch ), we were discussing Chapter Five, Resistance, when we both mentioned how “Do It Now!” truly resonated with us. Both Marylyn and I spent years not making art because Life was happening (raising a family, working a job); we both realized making art was our priority and we need to Do It Now or it may not get done.
I recently wrote about using your good things because life is short. Time is short and there is none to be wasted. Whatever your passion, don’t wait. Who knows what tomorrow will bring. DIN!
My sisters and I were compiling a list of the comments our mother repeated to us during the years. I remember Mother stating many times, “Life is not fair,” but that did not make the cut. Some bits of wisdom which did make it are as follows:
Stand up straight
Make the best of what you have
Ask people their names and use them
Always notice something nice about people
Wear your pretty things
Wear your pretty things. I remember Mother also saying:
Use your good things
For people of a certain age, that may mean using the silverware, china, and crystal received as wedding gifts. I try to do that, even though it must be washed by hand.
For a long time, I tried to save money on art materials and equipment. After painting for a while, I eventually splurged on a plein air easel, began using professional grade paints, and discover how much easier it is to paint on a quality substrate. But I was slacking on my brushes.
A year ago, I had an opportunity to purchase Rosemary brushes at a convention. Everyone in my studio had them and talked about how great they were. So I bought some. Took them home. Put them in a nice container and looked at them, thinking I would save them for a “good” painting.
What was I thinking?
How was I to know when the “good” painting was about to happen?
What if they were lost during a plein air event?
It took six months to get the courage to use them, and that was only because a workshop instructor used them almost exclusively. Hey, if I want to make great paintings too, shouldn’t I use the same brushes? So I dipped those Rosemarys in paint, put them to canvas, and was hugely surprised at what a joy they were to use and how much easier it was to paint with them. Why had I waited so long?