This is a pastel painting of a tree in my back yard. I should say, my new back yard.
I am really enjoying the changing scenery right now. You know what I like best? There’s so much space. I guess I didn’t realize how closed in I felt walking in the woods until I had a place to walk that’s a mix of wide open spaces and clusters of trees. I could wander around here all day. The dogs sure wouldn’t mind it.
It’s so beautiful that it’s really hard to make myself go in to my studio in the mornings. But go I must because that’s where all my pastels are!
And of course the biggest reason to go is I get to paint stuff like this! So, yes, it’s a compromise, but it’s worth it.
Man. I can’t wait to see how everything changes once the snow comes…
I know this because I’ve added planking to my morning routine and it takes me exactly a minute and thirty seconds to get to the end of the The Star Spangled Banner. To get to two minutes I have to sing it over again, up to “…were so gallantly streaming.”
This is all occurs in my head, mind you. I don’t sing it out loud because Steve is still asleep and he’d be cranky if I woke him up, no matter how patriotic I’m being.
Every time I do this I flash back to the days when I would tell my children to brush their teeth while humming the anthem. The dentist recommended two minute long brushing twice a day and I thought that having them sing a song they knew would be more fun than a timer.
I settled on the Star Spangled Banner because, a) it was a song they ought to know, and b) I was pretty sure the song was two minutes long.
I’d tell my kids to sing it “with reverence,” hoping if they sang it like a dirge it would be enough time for their teeth to get thoroughly clean.
It worked well enough, I guess, although now I bet they probably can’t sing the song at all unless they have a toothbrush in their mouths.
Funny how the things you do because you’re being a mother of invention come back to haunt you. Sorry, kids! I didn’t mean to make you associate the national anthem with dental hygiene for the rest of your lives! I should have done more research and found a different song! One that was longer and that you’d probably never hear again except in an elevator sometimes!
As for me and my morning planking, the anthem works to take my mind off the burning in my stomach muscles, so I’m sticking with it until and if I ever make it to 3 minutes of planking. And then I think I may switch to this one.
This morning I slipped on my old shoes, gathered up the dogs and stepped outside to wander around my new back yard. Steve and I moved last weekend to a house sitting on ten acres of what feels like park land. There are trees and deer and grass and It. Is. Awesome.
No one else around. The world is brand new. There are scenic vistas everywhere I look that just beg to be painted. So many maples! This fall will be gorgeous. And I can’t wait to see it in the winter.
I could get used to this.
I just wanted to share some pictures I took this morning, one or two of which are soon to be landscape paintings.
Take a break with me and just breathe for a while.
My husband and I traveled north last weekend to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We hoped to see some fall color and relax a little before the next big event in our lives (we’re moving to a new house in another week).
It was a great trip, not least because we had no internet access for three whole days.
I got a lot of reading done, found time to paint, spent a good portion of the weekend walking around on the Lake Superior shoreline, visiting waterfalls that I vaguely remembered from my youth, and just enjoying the outdoors.
We stayed in a little place called the Handshake Motel and Peninsular Patchworks. The owners, Ronnie and Tom, bought the cottages twenty years ago and named them for the early retirement plan that Tom took advantage of. Ronnie is a divinely talented quilter (that’s the Patchworks part) and she’s got a studio full of quilts and wall hangings and just anything you can think of to do with textile art. I was quite jealous of her space. It’s huge.
The cottage we stayed in was paneled in knotty pine, the bed was large and comfortable, and there was a big kitchen table suitable for playing Bananagrams, so perfect for us. They’re in Hulbert Lake, a tiny little town relatively close to White Fish Point and Grand Marais and a ton of state campgrounds, which we checked out for future camping trips.
We had an adventure getting back from Lake Superior on Sunday morning when a storm moved in on the beach where we were collecting rocks and soaked us and the dirt road we had traveled on to get there. We were in the Focus rather than the Silverado, so no four-wheel drive, but Steve has had a lot of practice in less than optimal conditions. We made it back okay and I only was terrified for probably ten minutes at the most.
On the way home on Monday, the end of the trip was marked by my phone dinging and buzzing as the messages/alerts/emails that piled up during the weekend came in all at once on the Mackinac Bridge. Of course I had to look, but I was already half missing the quiet.
Here’s a time-lapse of a painting from one of my photos of the upper falls at Tahquamenon Falls State Park.
Man, it’s pretty there. Not many people came out in the rainy weather so we had a lot of the place to ourselves. We did all the stairs and my calves are still stiff! But it was worth every riser.
Would you like to purchase this painting? It’s available for $175 in my shop, along with prints and cards.
I’ve been having fun with an online pastel painting class by Marla Bagetta for the past few weeks. This painting is a result of an assignment to take a black and white landscape photo and turn it into a nocturne. So much fun!
Here’s the time-lapse for you:
If you’re interested in purchasing this painting, please email me.
Here it is with my reference photo.
I love to take classes, especially with someone whose work I admire. I learn something new with every lesson and I feel like I make more progress when I am accountable to someone other than myself.
Almost done! I still have a few little things to do before my skelly cowgirl and her trusty gator steed are finished, but she’s pretty close!
Hope you love it. I had a fine time putting this one together. Below are some of my progress shots.
As far as a title goes, I’ve decided on Forever Your Gator Girl, which I made up on my own. Usually I have a title in mind before I start a skeleton painting, so this was a little tougher but it’s all good now!
If you would like to purchase the original, contact me. Forever Your Gator Girl will be available for $500, including shipping anywhere in the continental USA. I’ll have prints and cards in my web shop next week, so stay tuned!
You may or may not know this, but I lived in Florida for ten years. I moved back to Michigan in 2016.
Florida is… different.
We had a house on the south side of Jacksonville, Florida. When we first moved there, it was early July and hotter than hell. The first thing we noticed was that there were no people outside. It felt spooky, like that scene in the Andromeda Strain where the guys in hazmat suits are walking around this little town and there’s no noise at all, no movement.
Before we left Michigan, all our friends shared their favorite horror stories about Florida. How there were snakes everywhere, giant face-sucking spiders, and millions of alligators. I spent most of our first year hiding in the house.
Eventually I stopped worrying about animals and insects. In fact, I discovered it was the human wildlife that was mostly likely to kill you and not a giant prehistoric reptile.
For instance, I found out someone was feeding raw chicken to an alligator in a retention pond around the corner from us. The pond was behind a chain link fence but if you walked too close to the edge the gator would scramble out from wherever it was hiding, looking for fresh meat.
Our time there wasn’t all dismal. I came to enjoy walking around in the preserve near our house. I saw an abundance of wildlife, including otters, javelinas, raccoons, foxes, snakes, and deer. North of town we visited the St. Johns River delta, which was flat out gorgeous. Once I walked out onto a long wooden pier into a sea of grass and felt like I was floating. There were beaches littered with driftwood and cloud-filled skies that went on for days. I loved how you could feel so small and yet so infinite at the same time.
Anyway, the background of this latest skeleton painting is inspired by some of that beautiful scenery that I used to paint when we lived there. I hope you like her. I’ll continue to post progress pictures, so stay tuned.
P.S. Any ideas for a title for this one? If I pick your suggestion I’ll send you a free print, so email me your ideas asap.
I had a booth at the Gold Coast Arts & Crafts Fair in Ludington, Michigan this past weekend and I’m in the process of putting my studio back together. Man, I made such a mess!
But it was so worth it.
First off, thanks to everyone who made it out to see me at the show. You guys rock! It makes my heart sing to see people looking at my stuff and laughing and giggling and then running back to grab their friends and relatives and bring them over so they can laugh and giggle, too. You’re my kind of people. I’m so glad we found each other.
Overheard in my booth:
“It’s not ‘inappropriate,’ it’s funny.” One young boy to his friend.
“Is it weird that I’m re-evaluating my life choices because I think this card is hilarious?” A woman holding “The Very Last Supper.”
Also, many thanks to everyone who entered my giveaway! I asked my neighbor down the hall to draw a name and the winner is (drum roll, please):
Scott, congratulations on winning the “Bone to be Wild” matted print. I’m going to be contacting you via email for a shipping address, so watch your in-box.
For everyone else, I’m extending the good deal on my skelly greeting cards for one more week (today through August 19, 2019), as a special thank you.
Buy 3 or more cards, get 33% off the total (it’ll show up in the shopping cart). Sale ends midnight on Monday, August 19, 2019.
Thanks again for coming out. You’re the best art fans ever.