Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Packing to Paint in Italy

I will be 70 in a few months, and in March I will use my passport for the first time in my life. I can't believe I am so un-traveled! We will be staying in a villa in Gaiole, Chianti which is near Siena which is in the Tuscany area. We will stay at that villa each of the nine nights we will be in Italy. We will do day trips and excursions from there. We wanted our first trip to Italy to be low-key and relaxing. So no big tours in the major cities - just settling in for a few days and getting to know one small area.

And I want to paint while I'm there! I've spent a LOT of time thinking about what to take in order to be able to paint but not be loaded down with too much luggage. I THINK I have it figured out.  Here's my art packing list:

  • A Masterson 12 x 16 Palette with palette paper inside
  • Water-soluble oil paints (limited palette) which I will wrap individually and place inside the Masterson palette for travel. 
  • 1 tube of Gamblin Solvent-Free Gel (placed inside the Masterson palette with the paints)
  • Brushes in a cloth roll
  • A very lightweight folding easel
  • Three PanelPaks - a 9 x 12, an 11x14, and a 12 x 12.  That's 6 panels. I was originally going to take a 9x12 Ray-Mar wet panel carrier that hols 6 panels - but it is heavier than the PanelPaks. (I may leave the 9x12 PanelPak at home.  If I come home with 4 paintings, that will be fantastic.  I seriously doubt I will do 4 - much less 6!)

Those supplies should easily fit in my suitcase, with plenty of room for my clothes and toiletries. Ron and I will be packing only about 3 changes of clothes each. There is a washing machine in our villa, and we will do a load of clothes a couple times while we're there, and thus we won't need many clothes.

My plan is to sit on the patio of the villa to paint - or inside if it's too chilly to be outside. I've looked at the photos of our villa, and there are plenty of chairs and tables. I can set up the easel, put the palette on one of the tables and sit in a chair to paint. With our excursions, I won't have time to paint more than 6 paintings,  As a matter of fact I'll be surprised if I paint that many! I don't plan on doing any plein air painting away from the villa. So I won't be hauling painting supplies around Italy!  LOL! I will take photos during our sightseeing and exploring, and I will paint from the photos after returning to the villa. I might do plein air painting AT the villa, though. From the photos, it seems to be situated in a very scenic area - with vineyards and gorgeous scenery all around. We'll see. I know how promotional photos can skew reality.

Using water-soluble paints will keep me from having to deal with solvents. I will include the TSA label that all the art folks tell me should be put with the art supplies in the suitcase. The top one is for the Masterson palette box with the water-soluble paints inside, and the other one is for the PanelPaks on the way home when, hopefully, there will be completed painting inside.

Stuart, FL and Lake Okeechobee

Ron and I just spent five days in Stuart, Florida.  Ron spent his days going to a shooting competition near Lake Okeechobee, and I spent my days at the hotel - right on the ocean, with a pool, great walking trails, and a great place to set up my easel and paint.  I enjoyed my time there. 

The first day I painted this scene.  I wanted to capture the clouds, and I did a little better job with them than I've done before.  I used some Burnt Umber - and highlighted it with some reds and purples.

Now it's okay - and the clouds are LOTS better than some I've done, but they don't look very realistic. However, I will have to save improvements for another painting.  Overall, I like this one; I just want to get much better with clouds and ocean waves. 

Then the second morning there, we walked out on our balcony and saw the most stunning sunrise. There were streaks of light coming from behind really dark clouds making an absolutely brilliant white patch on the water below.  Really gorgeous. The clouds were stratus - layers and layers of clouds tinged with yellow and pink and white. Absolutely beautiful

Then I started a third painting. I decided I'd done enough beach and water paintings.  So I used a photo I took last spring when Ron and I took a ride on the Natchez Trace and we stopped at an overlook to see the valley below us.

This painting is far from finished.  There are about seven different tree lines, and I've just blocked them all in. I made the barn too big which makes it look closer.  In the photograph, it's a long way away.  So I will work on it more in my studio at home.

Friday, February 22, 2019

I Won't Let the Old Woman In!

The other day, Ron told me about how Clint Eastwood was asked, "What keeps you going?" Clint's response was "I don't let the old man in."  I loved that quote, and so I did a little research. The person who asked the question was Toby Keith, and after hearing Clint's response, Toby went home and wrote this song. It ended up being in Clint's most recent movie, "The Mule." Clint, at the age of 88, is still a fine looking man, and he did a great job in that movie. 

Here are the lyrics:

Don't let the old man in
I want to live me some more
Can't leave it up to him
He's knocking on my door 

And I knew all of my life
That someday it would end
Get up and go outside
Don't let the old man in  

Many moons I have lived
My body's weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old would you be
If you didn't know the day you were born

Try to love on your wife
And stay close to your friends
Toast each sundown with wine
Don't let the old man in

Many moons I have lived
My body's weathered and worn
Ask yourself how old would you be
If you didn't know the day you were born  

When he rides up on his horse
And you feel that cold bitter wind
Look out your window and smile
Don't let the old man in  

Look out your window and smile
Don't let the old man in 

The idea of not letting the old person in really resonated with me. It's a refusal to be limited with the little aches and pains that come with aging. The aches and pains will still be there, you just don't let them boss you around.  Eventually there will be something that limits me, but for NOW and for as long as I can, I won't let that old woman in - not into my mind, my attitude, or my actions. 

Earlier today I took a bath. That's something I do maybe once every year or two. I'm a shower person. But today was chilly and rainy, and a bath seemed appealing.  So today was this year's day for a bath. LOL! I soaked for a long time, and let the warmth of the water relax and sooth me. When I was ready to get out of the tub, I was initially a little hesitant. There's no more hopping out of the tub without a thought of how I would accomplish that task. The tub is slippery and I was going from a reclining position to a standing position and then stepping over the side of the tub. And since the tub is a Jacuzzi, that side is fairly wide - so it was more of a climbing over than stepping over.  But then I thought to myself, "Don't let that old woman in! Just get out of the tub." And I did. I had to use the hand-grip on the tub - but I did it, and I refused to act like it was a big deal or something hard to do. I refused to let the old woman in!

This is the year that I will turn 70.  So old age has been on my mind a lot lately.  Perhaps that is why this song speaks to me so much. I want to paint something that evokes that sentiment for me. So I will be thinking about it and looking around at scenes around me, and I will eventually find the thing that I will paint and title "Don't let the old woman in!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Blessings of the day

Today started out a little harried.  I packed up my car with bags and bags of supplies for a project the PEN Club (Pray-Explore-Nourish) at our church would be working on later.  It was raining, and it was cold and wet outside. I wanted to skip the meeting. However, since I was in charge of it, I couldn't. I'd spent just about all of yesterday preparing for the meeting - organizing and counting the supplies, making a list of what was needed, going shopping to get everything else that was needed, and then organizing it all. Church members had donated money to get the items to fill the bag - so I considered it a sacred responsibility to spend that money well and to get good deals on everything.  I had to write and print out a devotion, and design and print labels for the food bags and hygiene bags we'd be filling for a homeless shelter in Nashville.

So this morning I left early so I'd have time to get everything set up.  When I cranked up the car, a couple lights flashed, but it was running okay, and I figured it would get me to church and back, and I'd call the service folks afterwards and arrange to take it in tomorrow or Friday. So off I went.

About a mile down the road, I came to a "road closed" sign - the road ahead was flooded.  I backed up until I found a place I could turn around. Then I went a few miles out of the way on another route to the church - I figured I'd approach it from a different direction. Alas, I found another "road closed" sign for that road.  So I re-routed again and tried a third (and final) route.  This time I made it through.  The water on the sides of the road was high, but it hadn't come onto the road yet.

Meanwhile my fuel light had come on, and since giving out of gas is one of my fears - especially in flooding conditions (ha ha), I decided to stop at a gas station that was just right there and fill up. I still had plenty of time before the meeting began at 9:30.  I filled up the car and then hopped back into the car to drive the rest of the way to the church, and when I turned the key in the ignition . . . my car was dead.  Every light on the dashboard flashed when I tried to crank it - and it was obvious the car wasn't going anywhere.

The gas station (Leiper's Fork Market) had tables inside, and a very nice woman at the cash register.  I explained the situation, and asked if it was okay to leave the car where it was until I could get a tow truck there. It was fine. My car blocked the fuel pumps on one side - but the other side was open, and they weren't busy.

So I sat at a table and started my texts and phone calls to get this situation remedied.  First text was to cancel the PEN Club meeting.  There was no way I could get there - and in my disabled car was everything needed for the meeting.  Immediately one of the women who had been at the church (Cherry Lane) came to stay with me at the market. She was there to offer me a ride or any assistance she could.

I called the insurance company's roadside assistance number.  Within minutes, the tow company was contacted, and the truck was on its way.  I called Ron to let him know what was going on.  He offered to come over, but I told him I thought it was all under control, but that I'd call if I needed him.  Then I called Gary Force Acura service department to describe the problem and let them know I would be there with the car later.

Cherry Lane let me transfer all the bags of supplies into her car. I insisted I was fine/safe at the market - that when the tow truck got there, I would either ride with the truck to the Acura service center, or if he could get it cranked and it was drive-able, I'd drive straight to the service center myself.  So she took the supplies back to the church and unloaded and labelled it all so it would be ready for whenever we reschedule the PEN Club meeting.

The tow truck got there in record time, and the guy was as nice as he could be.  He determined that the battery was bad.  He was able to jump it off and get it running.  He checked it and didn't see anything else wrong and told me he thought it would be okay for me to drive it to the service center myself as long as I didn't turn it off again.  Insurance covered the roadside assistance call; so I gave him a tip to help pay for his lunch, and then I headed to Gary Force Acura.

And Gary Force Acura - always so polite and thorough. They checked it thoroughly, and the only thing wrong was a bad battery. The warranty on the battery expired just a few weeks ago - and they still gave me a major discount on the new battery since the bad one was so close to being in warranty.  It would take about two hours to get it all done since they would have to re-set things that were cancelled because of the bad battery.

I sat down in the waiting area and glanced at "Timehop" for today and realized that today marks 8 years exactly since Lily had her "No Mo' Chemo" party at the end of her first round of leukemia treatment. Eight years ago we celebrated the end of over two years of chemo, spinal taps, hair loss, almost 2 full years of missed school (2nd and 3rd grades).  Never could we have guessed that over 5 years later she would relapse and have to go through another 2 years of treatment and miss another two years of school (10th and 11th grades).

Looking at all the photos from the "No Mo' Chemo" party brought tears to my eyes.  I'd been getting a little frustrated with all the car problems and how I'd worked so hard yesterday preparing for today's meeting - all for nothing. But being reminded of what Lily has gone through, my car issues were instantly reduced to absolutely nothing. Totally insignificant. And my heart was filled with how blessed I am - with friends who came to my aid at a moment's notice, good insurance, a good service department - and good family members who immediately called and offered help.

My daughter, Larisa, whose office was about a mile away from the Acura place, came and picked me up, took me to lunch where we had a wonderful conversation.  As we were getting ready to leave the restaurant, my phone rang. My car was ready. Larisa drove me back to get the car.

The bill for the repair work was less than I would have ever imagined, they'd washed my car, and it ran perfectly.  I made a couple stops on the way home and got home around 4:00 p.m.

My day wasn't how I'd planned it, and I had to do a lot of scrambling to get everything taken care of, but it was a good lesson in how blessed I truly am.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Hillsboro United Methodist Church in Leiper’s Fork, TN

I have always wanted to paint WELL our little church in Leiper’s Fork. Two years ago I started painting it, and I ended up with the painting below.  I like the general look of it except the perspective is off - the part of the church on the left looks like is swinging forward towards the front rather than being straight along the side.  I hung this painting prominently in my studio as a good lesson to always get the perspective right in my paintings.

So this past week, I decided to paint the church again.  This time I used a 10x10 canvas panel.  My thinking was that I'd paint it quick and small and try not to stress over details.  Below is the result:

So the perspective is right.  It's a little "looser" than the first try. Still, though, I am not proud of it. I ran out of room at the top; so it doesn't show the little spire at the top of the steeple. Looking at it now, I realize that in the first painting I added front porch posts that aren't there. I even looked at it yesterday when we went to church, and there aren't posts on the front porch. I like the look of them in that first painting - LOL! but they are imaginary. Still, I like the painting a little - especially if I stand away from it and can't see the details.  LOL! I free-hand sketched it - and although the proportions aren't exact, they're pretty good for a free-hand drawing. I used a different photograph for this painting, although the perspective is just about identical to the first. The sun shadows are different.

I will try painting the church again in another year or two and see if then I will finally get a painting of the church that I'm really proud of.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Dramatic Cloud Study

I took the following photo and wanted to paint the scene - with the clouds being the dramatic focus.

So I painted it. Here is my first attempt. Now, I have had two different "cloud lessons" from Rachael McCampbell over the past couple years - and doggone it, I STILL can't do clouds well.

So, after being totally unhappy with those clouds, I scraped off the sky entirely.

Then I painted it again.

Okay - it sucks. So I left it - figuring that if I let it dry a little overnight, it might work a little more easily.  Right now it's just a mass of paint. "Muddy" is the term that comes to mind. I will tackle it again in a day or two.

One thing I considered was that I used an Ampersand Gessobord for this painting. The Ampersand Gessobord has a very slick surface. Maybe I should have tried one of my Belgium Linen panels. I may re-do this scene on one of those. The other thing is that maybe I'm putting on the paint too thickly. I tend to be overly generous with my paint, and that makes it more difficult to finesse things like clouds. So there are two things to work on for this painting.

Stay tuned for more attempts. I know I can get the trees and the grass and the hay rolls to look right. They don't look right now because I've just blocked them in. But I know how to paint them. It's just the clouds right now that have me stumped.

#Oilpainting, #paintingclouds, #marycarolart, #cloudstudy

NOAPS 2021 Associate Member Online Exhibition

I'm happy to say that my painting, "Bear Creek Road Reflections" was chosen to be in the 2021 NOAPS (National Oil and Acrylic ...