Back to the Painting!

I worked on the painting in a series of two hour blocks and then took a photo. After I had blocked in the basic composition, I started to add the layers of color. I do this by squinting at my subject and trying to replicate on the large blocks of color that I see, ignoring the details.

Aspen tree image 2

Most painters apply layers and layers of paint and I am no exception. I use thin coats of paint so that, even though you might not notice, hints of the previous color affect the top coats. There is so much going on in this scene, color wise. that when you focus on it long enough, it becomes trance-like.

Aspen tree image 3

I adhere very strictly to the idea that you must paint what you see and if you are true to what you see, it will all come together accurately in the end. My daughter, who is a graphic artist told me she had no idea that painting took so much time or was done in so many stages. I guess, unless someone had taught me how to paint, it would never have occurred to me either

Aspen tree image 4

I have waited 20 years to paint again because for me, it is something that requires 100% of my brain. It is actually exhausting, which is why I try to work in two hour blocks. I could not find this kind of isolation while I was raising my family.

I hope to get this mostly finished this weekend while my husband goes pheasant hunting in Nebraska.

First Painting in 20 Years DAY ONE

It has been a very long time since I last sat down and put my mind to starting a painting. In truth, I have always thought of myself as a painter, even though my degree focus was in illustration. I had only discovered painting in my senior year of college and did not have enough credit hours under my belt to be able to use that medium in my final project. I knew right away, however, that I was hooked….

.Aspen tree

When we moved into our house in central Oregon, this was the view from the dining room window. One of my first thoughts was of how much I would like to make a painting of this tree. Aspen trees are one of my husband’s favorites. This tree, like all Aspens, captures the seasons so clearly and this autumn was no exception.

Aspen tree layout

At first, I tried to draw directly from the subject, but the constant back and forth, as well as the light to dark was giving me quite a headache. I have never been much for drawing out my subject anyway. There is something about drawing on a vertical surface that has always been a challenge for me. I used to get in trouble in college for insisting on moving my pad of paper, no matter how large, from the easel onto my lap.

Aspen tree image 1

So, instead, I took a photo with my phone and used it as my primary reference. This was also helpful because the sun was moving in and out of the clouds all day making the lighting different every time I looked up.

With a dirty brush and a limited palate, I scratched the primary shapes and color fields onto the canvas and called it an end of day one.

Painting takes a CRAZY amount of concentration and a steady hand. These are two things that I no longer have, so I imagine this project will take some time to complete!

Jute Heads

For several months, I have been musing about the kind of display I would like for my creations. I tend to prefer scenes that are closely linked to nature, but at the same time, I like a little bit of class…..

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On my recent trip in to Portland and remembered that a favorite thrift store of mine always has a few styrofoam heads for sale as Halloween approaches. This year was no exception, in fact, they had hundreds. I ordered several spools of jute from Amazon and VIOALA! Jute heads!

The Spice of Life

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I am a little bit all over the place these days. Dabbling in Jewelry, collecting rocks to tumble, hiking the back woods for animal bones and some times just sitting down with a pencil and paper and seeing if I still have, “it”.

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My daughter recently rekindled my desire to play with polymer clay. My neighbor is requesting help making Christmas presents for the very poorest in our community and I just can’t seem to put my Ryobi away. There is always SOMETHING new to carve into or sand off.

Now, if only I could keep up with the housework……

I will post more soon.

Change is Good

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They say that you should reinvent yourself from time to time. I sat down with my noggin and had a good long think about what I was trying to accomplish with my shop….my life for that matter. I wanted to make a difference, not just keep heaving handmade products onto a website and hoping by some small miracle, I was found and adored. I looked at what I have learned over the past year, what I have changed about myself and how I could best put my talents to good use.

For those who don’t actually know me, and that would make 99.9999999% of the world (including my 4 followers at this time, I believe), I have a condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. The details of this condition are best left to another blog, perhaps on another site, but in a nutshell, the connective tissue in my body is slowly, painfully, starting to stiffen with age. With it comes early onset arthritis and easily dislocated joints. This is not a good condition to have when one considers themselves and artist and NEED to work with their hands. Seriously, it is second only to breathing and frequently manages to upstage eating and sleeping. Why do I mention this to you? Because as my body has become less and less cooperative and my medicine cabinet has become more and more full, I frequently find myself wondering how much time I have left to create. I wonder how others, women especially, manage to cope daily with chronic conditions that plague their every move. I think about women mostly, not only because I am one, but also because we tend to be the stoic ones. We soldior on, doing what has to be done and the world around us seems to completely overlook, for get, or be unaware of the fact that we are in pain. I know this because it is my life, and I know this because over the past year I have had the honor of talking with many other women in online support groups, who are wondering the same things I am. Most of these women do not have EDS, they have Fibromyalgia, cancer, MS, RA, you name it. I wish there was something I could do to let these women know they are not alone.

So, I have decided to start yet ANOTHER shop. This one, however, I intend to take most of my focus as it is something that is truly close to my heart. The shops name is Tough Girls and its primary focus will be on handmade healing, comforting and beautifying items. There will be chemo hats and scarves that make you feel pretty. Lap blankets that are just the right size to take to your infusion or cuddle with, Painted rocks you can heat and place on sore muscles. Scented sachets to calm nerves, and perhaps candles and lotions in the near future. I am looking for suggestions, of course. I would especially welcome any ideas from women (and men) who have experience in long term conditions. Did you ever wish you had a special shirt that could cover your IV port? A cover for your cast to keep the dirt off your toes? Ace bandages that were actually pretty? I intend to try and dabble in any and all things that might brighten the day, ease the pain or simply make a woman feel a little bit more attractive, when she is feeling her worst.

The shop is set up on Etsy as ToughGirls and while it is not stocked at this time, it will be in the near future. Most items will be by request at first so I do not put too much time and energy making products no one is interested in. I hope you will visit.

A New Shop…..Again.

I know it seems like I open a new shop just about every year. First I had my gift shop Tangible Imaginings. Then I added Blue Daisy Supplies and its counterpart Blue Daisy Antiques. Both of these are idle at present, but I am getting ready to open the supplies in the next week or so. Now I have added Tough Girls which is a shop catering to gifts for women who need comfort. I will also be starting a blog here on WordPress at ToughGirls.org. I hope to discuss ways of healing, helping and coping. Lastly, in the not TOO distant future, I will be opening a shop called Pronghorn Designs which will cater to crafts made and sourced entirely in Oregon.

WHEW! Somewhere in between, I will be making things to stock these shops and maybe looking for a partner or two who have a similar vision.

My husband and I have taken on a quest to collect as many interesting rock samples as we can use from various sites here in Oregon. We plan to use these stones and any interesting wood we find as well, in our Pronghorn creations. A few weeks ago, we went in search of thunder-eggs. We found a well known spot, got out our shovels and stood there wondering where to begin. They say in rock hunting, if you don’t know where to start, you should dig where someone else has already been digging; so that is what we did. We were in dust up to our eyeballs, clamoring under old dead tree roots and eventually we came home with a bucket full of good candidates. Of course, once we got home, we realized that we had no way to cut into these incredibly hard stones and that is where we sit today.

Most of the thunder-eggs from the area we dug are red jasper. Some could be agate, but it is unlikely that we will find a geode amongst the heap.

Our next foray into stone searching will be for something a bit smaller and more useable. We will be heading out for a long weekend to collect Oregon Sunstone, a fiery form of Feldspar that can be clear as crystal or internally fractured with shades of the sun. In a rare case, you might find a bit that is greenish-gray and full of schiller. I can’t wait!!!

This Year’s Trip to California

Every year, about this time, I try to make a trip to California to see my parents who live in Cambria. For those of you who do not know, Cambria is on the coast about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It has a rocky shoreline that is known for it’s “moonstones” which are actually ocean washed pieces of quartz. The whole beach is crazy with agates and jade as well as jasper and smooth chunks of sandstone and occasional bits of sea glass.

My parents are both rock people. My mother is a geologist with a mind like a trap and a keen eye for spotting the unusual amid the piles of ordinary. She has collected lovely and odd rocks her whole life. Her favorites will always be those with at least one perfect quartz ring around them. She wears one around her neck that her father had mounted for her when she was a child. Even he knew her love of rocks was innate. My father is a geophysicists; a MARINE one to be specific. How rocks form is more his business, but he compliments my mother well when they are out and about staring at the ground and poking things with their toes.

The weather this trip was ideal. I drove the 700 miles there with my eldest daughter, Dsay and my aged Golden Retriever, Amelia. There has been a lot of smoke in the air from regional forest fires but the air in Cambria was clear, for the most part. In between spending time visiting, we went to the beach to collect what we could, allegedly for the new rock tumbler my husband had given me for our recent anniversary. Instead, i mostly collected rocks that are just perfect the way they are.

California Rocks

These are a variety of stones, from granite to jasper with some shell and sandstone as well. My thought is to arrange them into necklaces with perhaps a more interesting stone as the focal point, perhaps not. It’s hard to decide. They feel good between the fingers; cool and smooth; very calming.

California Gems

While we were there, we also visited my favorite antique shop in Cambria. They have a wonderful collection of stone beads as well as stone specimens and ore samples. These beads I brought back as well. Maybe I will incorporate them into my stone necklace idea, maybe I wont. First, I need to unpack the boxes and boxes of stone specimens that my parents gave me from their own collection. I hope to share a few of those with you soon as well. Big things are coming! I can feel it.