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.

The Dry Spells

I believe that most people who are involved in creative endeavors hit dry spells occasionally. The past couple months have been quite dry for me. Dry spells aren't necessarily bad, though. They can be a time of renewing, resting, getting centered again.

In early December, I finished up a class at On-Track Studios in Franklin taught by Karen Philpott. I really like Karen, and ended up with several paintings I like as a result of the classes I took from her.

This is my favorite. It is painted from a photograph that Karen provided us. She had a selection of photographs for us to choose from, and I chose this one because I love the contrast of the cold icy snow in the foreground to the warmth of the sky in the background. In looking at it with fresh eyes, though, I think there needs to be some of that gold color from the sky reflected on the snow. So I might go back and do that. It would unify the two parts of the painting.

This next one is also from a photo provided by Karen. I like this one, too.

This one was done in Karen's water reflections class back in late summer. I don't recall if I've written about or posted this one or not. It was painted from another of Karen's photographs.

This next one is a small painting - from my imagination. I love doing the water and the reflections of the boat and the land and the sky.
My sister, Debi, gave me a photo of a scene from their visit to Greece a couple years ago. I painted it for her. If I had it to do over again, I'd leave out that pier or whatever it is on the left. But I finished it, varnished it, framed it, and gave the painting to Debi. So it's done and gone - with the pier.

And now - this dry spell is into its third month, and I'm ready to bring on the rain of painting. In the next few months, I have quite a few painting opportunities that are exciting and that I'm anticipating with a lot of joy.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sick Spells and Good Health

Our bad experiences in life provide good lessons. For the past two weeks I've been sick (nothing major) and have been taking necessary medication that makes me feel horrible. So I spent two weeks feeling nauseated and headachey and generally yukky. I holed up at home, for the most part, because I just didn't feel well enough to venture out. We live out in the country, and so I DID go outside and walk around in the woods a little bit each day.

Then Monday afternoon, I took the last of the medicine. I woke up yesterday feeling much better, and by lunchtime, it was like a new day had dawned. The lesson learned: Good health is a treasure. Do NOT take it for granted. Do what you need to do for good health. It was a lesson I already knew and have seen a few zillion memes about, but it was good to get a fresh reminder. Today I'm out walking up and down our hills to prepare for a hilly adventure in Italy in a few months.

And major kudos to Ron for good-naturedly putting up with my mopey behavior and handling most of the household responsibilities the past few weeks.

Note: And I realize that having only a couple weeks of feeling bad is wonderful compared to folks who have months and years of illness. And I realize that my piddly two weeks are nothing compared to what Lily has gone through. I'm just writing about my own experience.


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 s...