Monthly Archives: August 2012

Books. Books. Books. My secret addiction.

When I was a little girl and first discovered the wonders of reading, I vowed to read every book in the world.  I can’t tell you how old I was before I actually realized the impossibility of that.  But I’ve been trying ever since.

I’m not quite sure why I took to reading so well.  I wasn’t a particularly precocious child.  I didn’t have parents who pushed me to read at age two or anything.  But I did have a parent who read to me every night and we always had books around the house.  We had a three-volume anthology of children’s poetry and stories, plus my father had a complete set of the classics.  You know the kind.  The ones all bound in red.  Probably one of those order by mail deals. 

When I finally learned to read for myself, I was off like a horse at the Kentucky Derby.  I haven’t stopped since.  I had my first library card at the town library. These were the days where you were issued one of those cardboard cards with the numbered medal plates that made an impression on the card in the pocket of the book.  After I’d gone through most of the children’s section, I was given the privilege of moving up to the adult section of the library.  This was a really big deal to me at the time.  It was a very old library of many floors with steam radiators, high ceilings, dusty corners.  Later in high school, my friends and I would haunt the study rooms in the overheated atmosphere.  Yes, even before computers. 

In college, I actually had a campus job of working in the library which was wonderful.  I could cruise the stacks, get first dibs on the newest selections, and really learned how to research.  By the time I graduated, I had been promoted to the reference desk.  Sigh.  What fun! 

Just a small part of my secret addiction.

In the past many years, my interest in reading has only grown.  It continues to amaze me to realize that we can still share the thoughts of people who have been dead for centuries.  It’s as if they are still here, whispering to us. 

My interest in acquiring books has never waned either.  I still want to possess them.  I love the tactile feel, the smell of the ink, the heft and weight of the books.  I love to see them on my shelves.  Most of the online booksellers know me very well, as well as many of the used booksellers.  I love to cruise bookstores, both old and new, and often ensure that I locate the nearest bookstores when I’m traveling. Going into a bookstore for me is akin to an alcoholic visiting a bar.  It’s a very dangerous (and expensive) proposition.

But what about electronic books, you say.  They take up much less space and are easily transportable.  Humph!  My son bought me a Kindle for Mother’s Day.  Well… has its uses.  I can download nearly any book in the public domain and can often read a book for much less than the price of the “real” book.  But it just isn’t the same.

And then to further feed my addiction, several years ago I was invited by Amazon to participate in their Vine program.  I’ll write about that another time but the jist of the program is that they send me free books every month and all I have to do is review them.  I don’t even have to give them a good review!  How cool is that?!

So, thank you Ms. Kuhlman way back in first grade for teaching me to read.  You probably didn’t realize the path you set me on then.  And I’m really sorry I stole that Little Golden Book from the classroom library.  It was my first and only foray into crime.  I think I’ve more than made up for it since in the many many books that I’ve donated to libraries wherever I’ve lived.

Using a limited palette in oil painting

Limited palette: Clockwise from Titanium White, Cerulean Blue, Cobalt Blue, Alizarin Crimson, Cad Red Med, Burnt Sienna, Cad Lemon, Naples Yellow

If you have been tempted to load up on all the pretty colors when you visit the art supply store, don’t give in.  You can create nearly any color from a limited palette.  Most experienced artists find this gives their work greater cohesiveness.  Learn more on my How To page by following the link.

Handmade bricks

New - old sidewalk

New sidewalk from very old brick

This old house is at least 130 years old that we know of and, we think, about 30 years older.  The front half is log, yeah, the REAL old logs, and we think it was part of an original land grant in these parts. 

Even though we’ve lived here for over 25 years, we are always uncovering surprises.  This summer, my son who was home from college, decided to replace the brick sidewalk we had in front.  (All without any prompting from mom.  Thank you, Ben!)  A few years back we had the old metal roofs replaced (subject for another post).  In the process, it was more expedient to take off the old chimneys which were no longer used.  That pile of bricks was behind my studio.  So…my son took it upon himself to clean off all the century-old grout from the bricks.  Upon examining them closely, we realized that they were all handmade.  And if we looked really closely, we could even see the fingerprints of the maker.  That person is long gone but his legacy lives on. 

This is why I often feel the history of the old place.  Many times we get caught up in our own little immediate problems but they don’t seem so big when put in the perspective of looking back over a 150 years of births, deaths, droughts, storms, wars, and all manner of other “immediate” problems.  Makes ya think, doesn’t it?

Plein air painting at Monkey Hollow Winery today

Monkey Hollow Winery

Monkey Hollow Winery, 11 x 14 oil

I went out to Monkey Hollow Winery today with the plein air group, Runaway Artists (  If you’d like to see  the painting demo, again on a toned canvas, click on the link to take you directly to the page.

How to paint on a toned canvas

Does a blank canvas intimidate you?  Learn how to paint on a toned canvas. You’ll be surprised how this will speed up your painting and add an overall cohesiveness.