Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Strada Challenge - Days 4 & 5

 January 4th, I was still on the "colored pencils" train. I wasn't ready to face my long-neglected studio, and so I took the easy way out and drew a floral still life. This is one of those "ho-hum" paintings. 


Day 4 #stradaeasal  #marycarolart


Today - Day 5 of the Strada Challenge - was the day I finally got into my art studio, straightened off my work space, got pliers to open the tubes of paint and used my oil paints again!  It felt really good to paint again. 
oil on 8x8 canvas panel
"Fresh Cut"

Day 5 #stradaeasel, #marycarolart

Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Chubby Green Mermaid

Years ago, I saw a chubby green mermaid Christmas ornament, and I bought it immediately. Each year, when I see it on our Christmas tree, I smile. I love it. It is my favorite ornament that I've bought for myself. Of course the ornaments my children and grandchildren have made for me are at the top of my list of favorites. However, as far as commercial ornaments go, my little chubby green mermaid is the bomb.

Really! Is this not the greatest ornament ever?!

So when I started looking around for something to draw for today's Strada Easel challenge, I saw this and it was settled. Earlier I had gone up to my studio and just couldn't get into getting things set out to paint with oils. I decided to stick with drawing and colored pencils. 


Here is my finished drawing - I like it. Of course I see all that's wrong with it - but still, it's my chubby green mermaid - and that's all that matters. :-) 

Day 3 #stradaeasel, January 3, 2021

#marycarolart

The Strada January 2021 Challenge

 Each year Strada Easels has a January challenge. Artists are invited to paint each day in January, post their work on Facebook or Instagram, use the Strada hashtag, and at the end of the month, the company will randomly select 5 names from the names of all the artists that completed each of the 31 days. Those five artists will receive a complete Strada Easel system.  Artists from all over the world participate which makes the odds of winning very minute. However, someone has to win! :-) 

Here are my first efforts:

Day 1 - January 1, 2021, #stradaeasel, #marycarolart


I was at my mother's home in Georgia, and I didn't have my art supplies with me. However, I didn't want to do what I did last year - which was to drop out of the challenge before even doing one drawing or painting. So I found a sketch pad (unused) that I had given my mother a couple years ago, and a pencil. Those were my only art supplies for the night. I sat in a chair in her living room and looked around. A vase of cotton boll stalks mixed with a few yellow silk flowers grabbed my attention. The vase was on the hearth across the room from me. Here's my "quick sketch" of it, with the brickwork of the fireplace behind it. I realized that I don't know how to do highlights with a pencil. A drawing class might be in my future.

Day 2 #stradaeasels, #marycarolart - Saturday, January 2, 2021

After a sleepless night (literally - my car alarm kept going off) I drove from my mother's in Georgia back to my home in Tennessee. I had to stop a couple times to just close my eyes for a few minutes because I was so sleepy! After I got home, I "could" have gone upstairs to my art studio to do today's challenge, but I couldn't make the effort. After a brief nap and a "breakfast for dinner,"  l got a sketch pad that I keep in the cabinet beside my recliner, found a box of colored pencils, and I sketched some of the prayer beads that I have. I've made probably 100 or more sets of prayer beads over the past few years. Again, I learned something new. With oils, one paints the darks in first. That won't work with pencils. So it's more one-tone than I'd like - but I did Day 2 of the challenge, and I'm pleased with that. 

Day 1 #stradaeasels, #marycarolart, Day 2, #prayerbeads


Friday, November 20, 2020

Eight Months of Pandemic - and counting

The "fifteen days to slow the spread" has continued for over eight months now. I have to admit that the isolation gets to me at times. I don't think I've picked up a paint brush since a 2-day workshop in September. And I have cancelled all the other workshops I'd signed up for throughout the fall. I'm just not feeling it. However, I'm beginning to get a little more interested in getting back into it. So there's a little bit of light at the end of the tunnel.


Depression is interesting because I can feel the lack of interest in many things. There's a kind of "what's the point?!" feeling. I get out and go to the grocery store - I drive to Georgia to visit my mother for at least a few days each month - and I see my children and grandchildren occasionally. I miss going to church and being involved with groups - and just being with other people without being worried about the virus - either spreading it or catching it. Nashville's mayor has issued all sorts of rules about celebrating Thanksgiving next week. Thank goodness we don't live in Nashville. Still, our family get together will be limited - and we won't have the hugging and closeness we usually have.



Art-wise, I DID put one of my paintings in an art show The Chestnut Group did back in September. That was a good experience although my painting didn't sell. However, I think only a very few paintings sold. The pandemic has put a damper on everything.

I miss eating out at restaurants - travel, etc. Ron won't go out to a restaurant. Period. I've met my kids and/or grandkids several times at restaurants, and it's really pretty safe. This past week I started going to Pinkerton Park and walking again - which is nice to get outside in nature and enjoy the outdoors.

I looked at this blog and realized that after the first burst of painting at the beginning of the pandemic, I quickly lapsed into not painting. I could not work up any enthusiasm for it. Thank goodness I'm beginning to feel a little interest creeping back in.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Pandemic Painting

The Coronavirus pandemic is in full swing, and people across the world are self-isolating in their homes. Quarantines are wide-spread, and suddenly many people have lots of time on their hands.

I suggested having a painting prompt each day for the Chestnut Group members, and we followed through with it. We began on March 17th, and we will have a new prompt each day for 30 days. Today is day 13. For days 1-12, I participated nine times. That equals 9 paintings. They're all posted below. I really like some of them, don't like a couple, and feel rather "blah" about another couple.

One good thing about having a prompt is that it gives the artist a specific direction for thinking and planning a painting. I've missed 3 days out of the first 12 - which I'm really pleased about.  So far, here are my offerings:

Day 1: "Forsythia"
The first of the painting prompts: I like the forsythia bush, but I'm not particularly pleased with the rock wall and grass. I love forsythia and look forward to seeing it bloom each year.
"Backyard Forsythias" oil on 11x14 linen panel


Day 3: "Free Spirit"
This is probably my favorite of the ones I've done so far. I just like the look of it - and I love Queen Anne's Lace - always have. I put this one in the Tennessee Tornado Relief Art Auction that is currently in progress. I hope someone likes it well enough to bid on it.
"Free Spirit Wildflowers" oil on 9 x 12 linen panel

Day 4: "Complete a painting in 30 minutes"
When we built our farm in 2006, and we named it "Dogwood Trace" because of all the naturally occurring dogwood trees growing throughout our acreage. One of my goals is to do a large painting of dogwood trees for our home. I based this painting on a photograph I took of some of our dogwoods a couple years ago. This is a small study that will help me in painting a large one someday.
"Dogwood Trace" oil on 10x10 linen panel

Day 5: "Being Mindful"
I took a drive and paid close attention (i.e. I was being mindful) to all the beautiful scenery around me. This scene is from a photo I took from a small bridge on Carl Road looking down at the creek. I think the creek is actually the West Harpeth River - but not certain because there are several creeks/rivers in that area and they wind in and out so much. There are some changes I will make to this later.

Day 7: "Reminiscing"
This painting represents "reminiscing" because the sewing box is one we bought at either an estate sale or antique store at least 45 years ago. I have to admit our sewing box is much fancier, but I couldn't get it right so I changed it to a simple box. The pie dish that's holding the eggs belonged to Ron's mother, Lillian. And the eggs are from our own chickens. The cotton bolls in the vase remind me of growing up in rural Georgia and all the cotton fields. This is one of my "blah" paintings. It's okay - but it will end up in my "nice try, but no thanks" stash of unframed paintings.


Day 8: "Nesting"
I wanted to paint a bird's nest - which is a literal interpretation of the prompt. I'm pleased with this one, and my daughter requested it as soon as she saw it. They have a lake house that they've named "The Bird's Nest" because it is small. She has a lot of bird decor inside and said she has the perfect place for this painting. So once it has dried, I will varnish and frame it, and give it to my daughter.
Oil on 6x6 hardboard

Day 9: "The Journey"
This scene is on our property - along the ridge beyond our house. If we continued walking down this road, our house would be a short ways beyond the far curve in the road.  I painted this just four days ago, and already those bare trees have leaves beginning to bud. Amazing how quickly spring bursts forth this time of  year. This painting is not finished yet.

Day 10: "Complete a painting with 40 or fewer brush strokes"
For this painting, I wanted to try out cold wax medium again. So I mixed my colors - 1/2 oil paint and 1/2 cold wax medium. Then I toned my canvas with a deep red paint. I started counting my strokes - using palette knives and a scraper - and then I got so wrapped up in painting that I totally forgot about counting strokes. I KNOW I used lots more than 40 brush strokes, but a great many fewer strokes than I typically use for a painting. This is another of my favorites - I really like the way this one looks.

Day 12: "Blessed"
I wanted to stay on the cold wax medium train. So I used that with oil paint for this one. Earlier in the day I had looked at Facebook and saw a photo that a friend had posted of an American Flag out in a field. I liked the look of a flag within a simple landscape. So I painted a landscape similar to the one I did on Day 10 and then put a flag within it. I like this one, although I don't think I did as well with the water as I did on the other one.

So those are my Pandemic painting - my ChestnutDailyPrompt paintings for the first 12 days. I will make another post later with the last half plus 3 days of the challenge.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

And Away We Go - Another Busy Winter and Spring

Last year, my husband, Ron, and I had so many trips planned for the first half of the year that I swore I'd chill out a little this year. I tried - I nixxed driving back and forth to Knoxville for a painting class for 8 weeks, but still, we are exceeding last year's travels. We have trips to South Carolina, Georgia, Colorado, Alaska, Italy - and several adventures to Florida in the works between now and mid-July.

Some of the trips are for Ron to do his sporting clay competitions. He has worked his way into Class A now but is hoping to reach Class AA soon. After that, he will go for the Masters level. I have no interest in shooting or watching other people shoot. So, over the years, we have worked out a good system for going to his competitions.

When we go to his competitions, we stay at a hotel that is conducive to my being able to take long walks and with good scenery nearby for my painting. While he's gone all day with the sporting clay competition, I stay at the hotel and hike around the area and paint. It's a great compromise. We both do what we enjoy during the day, and then we meet up in the evening and enjoy dinner and local scenery together.  We will be doing four of those long weekend trips over the next few months.

I am beyond excited that because of Ron's other hobby - flying his own airplane - we will be going to Alaska this summer. I love Alaska. This will be my fourth trip there, but this time will be different. For the first three days, we will go back to Afognak Island near Kodiak for fishing and painting. Such a beautiful place!  We spent a few days there in 2016 with two of our granddaughters, Lily and Sophie. Special, special memories. Then, we will leave Afognak and spend four days in Talkeetna where Ron will be taking "tail dragger" plane flying lessons - learning how to fly around the mountains in Alaska. We will be staying at a remote place with gorgeous scenery. While he flies, I will set up my easel and paint, and I'll also do some hiking. I'm thrilled to be going back to Alaska!

However, Alaska is the next to the last trip planned for the summer.  Before that, three of the trips are for my painting. This year I will go to Plein Air South in Apalachicola, Florida. Ron will be doing another sporting clays event elsewhere that week. I will spend that week with artist friends improving my art and soaking up the learning and sunshine.

Then I will attend my third Plein Air Convention and Exposition. This year it is in Denver. Ron will fly us there in his plane. We will have to do the flight in two legs - possibly over two days or maybe flying for 3 hours, landing at a small town airport somewhere and stretching our legs and taking a break - and then flying the rest of the way. Then while I'm attending sessions and painting at PACE, he has arranged some mountain flying opportunities.

And then there is Italy. I never guessed when Ron and I went to Italy for the first time last March that we'd be going again so soon. I'm leaving a week before Ron and attending a workshop in Cortona led by my good friend and amazing artist, Rachael McCampbell. Ron will join me there when the workshop is over, and we will tour Pisa, Cinque Terre, Milan, and Lake Como. We will go home via London.

Our last trip in July will be a family vacation to the beach - Ron and me, our kids and grandkids.  I can't wait. That's always my favorite week of the year.

Note: 8/9/2020 - Re-reading this post is such a great experience in how plans can change. Of all those trips I wrote about, only two happened. One early in March to a SC beach - and then our family vacation in July to the Florida beach. Italy, Alaska, Colorado - and the others - all canceled. In the first couple months of quarantine, I figured things would get back to "normal" after a few months. However, I'm beginning to realize that things might not ever get back to normal. It will likely  be a long time before Ron and I will feel okay about flying commercially.  As I go on errands, I see everyone wearing masks and think about how things have changed so much since March. Masks are the norm now. I've personally sew somewhere between 300 and 400 masks - given them all away. Change is always happening. Sometimes quickly - sometimes slowly - but always change.

Paint Us! Paint Us! - a painting by Candy Crawford Day

One of the blessings of getting involved in the art community is the opportunity to make connections with other artists. I once wrote that painting has brought an entirely new dimension to my group of friends. Such a true statement! One such friend is Candy Day. She belongs to the Plein Air Painters of the Southeast and is a fellow Georgia girl. I grew up in Georgia - mostly Rome, but also Ellijay and Griffin. As it turns out, Candy went to the same high school I attended and married the boy who lived next door to us when we lived in Rome, GA. Literally right next door! Although I knew her husband when we lived in Rome, I never knew Candy.

I met Candy for the first time when PAPSE was in Leiper's Fork back in September 2018. As we chatted at one of the PAPSE get-togethers, I found out that she now lives in Ellijay. Our family lived in Ellijay before we moved to Rome. And she is also a cousin of my brother's best friend from Ellijay. Small world.

Besides the school, town and neighbor connections, I saw immediately that Candy is a gifted artist. A few months back, she posted a photograph of a painting she was doing of three little girls at the beach. I immediately loved that painting. There's just something about their facial expressions, and the way they're standing in the painting. Candy explained the setting for the painting. She had been painting at the beach, and the girls came up to watch her and then cried, "Paint Us! Paint Us!" So Candy painted them.

"Paint Us! Paint Us!" oil on 16x20 panel
That was about six months ago. I figured someone snapped up that painting quickly. Then six or so weeks ago, I saw that Candy had posted a painting she was working on, and in the background I saw "Paint Us! Paint Us!" on the wall. I messaged her and asked if it was still available for purchase. She said it was, and we agreed on a price. Since my mother lives in north Georgia, I decided to pick it up in person so we wouldn't have to deal with shipping. So my mother, two sisters, and I made a day trip out of it. Candy recommended a good restaurant in Ellijay for us to have lunch. We drove to Ellijay (just a 90-minute drive from my mother's home in Rome), had a delightful lunch, and then drove out to Candy's house and studio. It was great to see her studio, to chat with her and her husband again, and I loved the painting even more in person.  Here is a photo of Candy and me in her studio.

I brought the painting home and it is now on the wall in my dining room. Next to it is a painting by Kathie Odom, "Homestead Remnants" and below it is a painting of mine, "He Planted Wildflowers for Me."  (I could've moved the hammer out of the photo, couldn't I? Or cropped it out of the photo!  LOL!)


Each time I pass that painting, it grabs my attention - it touches my heart. I'm a little in awe that I own it! Art is so personal and individual. Art affects us based on our unique experiences, thoughts, and ideas. We react to what moves us. Maybe it's my years of teaching elementary school age children that makes a painting of children so special to me. I also know how difficult it is to capture the essence of a person in a painting. In "Paint Us! Paint Us!" the  individual personality of each girl just oozes out of the painting. I couldn't be happier with this addition to my art collection. 

To me, a home filled with art - especially art by people I know - my own art - art that tells a story - art that moves me - is the home I want - and blessedly, the home I have.

Strada Challenge - Days 4 & 5

 January 4th, I was still on the "colored pencils" train. I wasn't ready to face my long-neglected studio, and so I took the e...