If you happen to get to the post office or a farm supply store this time of year, you will hear the peeping sound of baby chicks. They are SO cute! And it takes all kinds of willpower to NOT buy a bunch of each.
There are many varieties, but I particularly like the speckled ones and the ones with feathered feet. They look so fancy. We’ve had many kinds over the years. I also loved the bantams, the females, not the males which tend to be aggressive for their size. One year, one of my favorite dun-colored females disappeared. I was certain that she was the victim of a raccoon or hawk. But after about three weeks, she reappeared with about eighteen little bantam peeps following her. They were so tiny and cute. I don’t know where she hid but apparently it was a good hiding place.
This antique sponge bowl holds five fresh brown eggs. Do they taste different? That’s hard to tell but they sure are deep yellow when cracked open. Probably from all the extras that the hens get in their diet than those that are confined to chicken factory farms.
We’ve also had blue and green eggs, too. It is rumored that they are lower in cholesterol but I don’t know if that is true. They’re just so beautiful to look at.
The sponge bowl, by the way, gets its name from the decoration. The glaze was applied with a sea sponge. I have only seen these in blue. These stoneware bowls are very heavy for their size. I bought this at auction many many years ago and still use it for fruit and whatnot.
Although spring officially began a little over a week ago, the season has been sneaking up on us for a while. The grass is greening with that lovely shade of spring green. The trees are sporting a haze of pinky-red buds or some with more greenish buds.
The daffodils and crocuses are out. The yard if full of spring beauties, a tiny white flower with a pink stripe. It looks like snow in some areas. And the forsythias in the yard and out by the road where I had my son transplant shoots over fifteen years ago. I think it adds a little colorful surprise for passersby.
I’ve been so busy with other activities but have been able to sneak out to catch a painting or two. These are some of my favorite recent ones. One depicts our house sitting on the little hill with the morning sunlight catching the fronts of the buildings. The middle building behind the big house is my studio.
The second larger painting is of our North field looking west. You can see the farm rows from last year’s crops. The white dogwood, some redbud, and the various spring colors on the big trees. Such a pretty time of year.
It is not unusual here in the Midwest to see farmers harvesting late into the night during the season. Last year our renter harvested past one in the morning. Only fatigue drives them inside.
Earlier this week, the farmer was rushing to get the corn in before the rain predicted the following day. The giant combine looks like some eerie monster gobbling up the stalks, spitting the debris out the back. The grain trucks meet the combine in the field to be filled and cart away the gold.
I have always been fascinated by night activities such as these and I sneaked out to take a bunch of reference photos. I don’t know why I have to sneak on my own property but I felt compelled to do so, hiding in the shadows and behind the trees. With the low light conditions and the movement of the equipment, most of the photos were blurred but I managed to get some good shots, too. I was just using my phone camera, not my good camera.
The clouds were scudding across the night sky, alternating blotting out the nearly full moon and then darkening everything. The lights on the equipment were dazzling. The dust kicked up by the harvest hung in the air like smoke, sometimes caught in the blue light of the moon.
I find night subjects to be interesting and compelling in a totally different way than daytime subjects. I’ve sketched leaning up against buildings in Times Square and have painted the buildings of the city seen at night. Watching diners through the window of a restaurant can be fascinating.
What is going on in your neighborhood in the dark that is worth capturing in art?
My painting activities often insert themselves into my dreams. That’s probably an occupational hazard from creating so much. Reading about art, making art, visiting art. It doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I find that I have worked out a painting problem in my sleep.
But a while back I woke up with a most vivid image in my mind. Very bright colors, semi-abstract, nothing like my usual subject matter or palette. Fortunately, I was able to keep the image in mind (it was that strong) and later captured it in my studio. This does not happen often.
This led to several other paintings in a similar vein. Bright colors, semi-abstract, nature themes of birds and flowers and trees. A few recognizable subjects of water and ponds, bridges and houses. Vivid skies and vegetation.
I’m calling this my Dreamland series. There are about seven paintings so far. I’ve been distracted with some other work lately so I hope that I can get back to this idea or state of mind. The bright colors just make me happy.
I don’t have these listed for sale yet as two of them are on exhibition right now. But check back later in my Etsy shop KitMiracleArt to see if they’ve been added.
Sometimes we just need to follow our intuition and have fun creating. Or so I think.
Posted onAugust 15, 2021|Comments Off on Four categories of painting subjects
Do you ever feel like making some art but you just don’t know what to paint or draw? For some people, this is a common frustration. You have some free time and then what?
In my case, I keep a list. I’m very fond of lists. I often have many lists, here, there, everywhere. I have a couple of lists in my studio, but I also keep an idea notebook. This is actually to just capture an idea which might flit through my mind…and then flit out. These days I’m working on a lot of seasonal paintings for the upcoming holidays so I just brainstorm and write things down. I also use this technique when I’m thinking about another series of paintings.
Most of my ideas fall into three or four broad categories: still life, landscape, figurative and non-objective.
Still life. This can include any single or group of objects. Fruit, flowers, vases, skulls, musical instruments. The list is practically infinite. Some artists select a group of objects and then keep rearranging them and paint them for their entire lives (Morandi). Others choose themes – types of objects like all glass vases, or natural objects, or sports equipment. The really nice thing about still lifes is that the objects stay put (usually) and you can come back to work on your painting another day if you run out of time. This is a really good way to develop eye-hand coordination, composition, and learning to tell a story if that is what you choose to do. Instructors start beginning art students off with still lifes to help build these skills.
Landscape. Just about anywhere in the world can be a subject of a landscape painting. Painting outdoors (en plein air) is both challenging and fun. Cityscapes, your house, your dog’s house, beautiful scenery, or even things that aren’t so beautiful. Landscape painting can be a bit more challenging as the time of day and the seasons often dictate how long or when you can paint. Many artists make quick sketches and bring them back to use as subjects for larger or more detailed paintings. If you are painting out doors, then you have about two or three hours before the light and shadows change. You can always return another day to finish your work, or start another painting while you’re outside.
Figurative. This entails studying a figure, body, part, or group. It can even encompass pets and animals. For many people, this is one of the most difficult categories to approach. Why? Because your subjects move! Stand still, dang it! Again, the more you do, the better you become. Building that eye – hand coordination. A trip to a museum helps if they will allow you to sketch their sculptures. Those usually stay still. Or sit at your favorite eatery, a park, library, or any public space. Plenty of subjects there. The trick is to be stealthy but really, not everyone minds someone sketching them. And don’t try to make a finished piece if you only have a few minutes to just jot some sketches.
Abstract or non-objective. This is the anything goes category. Do you want to make circles or squiggles? Fine. How about several canvasses of lines or shapes? Add some sand or affix some found objects. Maybe your favorite music will inspire you. Ask any four year old and they’ll teach you how.
So next time you’re searching for something to paint, pull out your notebook or 3 x 5 card and check it for ideas. Just keep it nearby, maybe by your reading or TV chair, to jot down ideas as they come to you. You’ll always be ready for those times when you have a few hours to get creative. Good luck!
Let’s face it, if you’ve been an artist for any length of time, you will inevitably create some bad paintings. Crap is the professional term. (Just kidding.) Not everything that comes off your easel, your brush, from your pencil is wonderful. Actually, few pieces of art fit that description.
I remember when I was first getting back to my art roots after several years’ hiatus that I sat at the kitchen table one night and created a cute little flower painting. It was pink, I think. I was so proud of that piece. When I showed it to my husband, he said, “Oh, that’s nice, honey.” Such a sweet supportive liar but I certainly needed the boost to my ego.
I kept that painting for years, long after I realized what a wreck it was. I would drag it out when teaching a class and point to it and say, “See, this is where I came from. You can learn to paint, too.” I have searched the studio for the piece as I would definitely show it but can’t locate it. I’m sure that I never threw it away.
The point is, that we do the best we can with the skills we have at the time. When you know better, you do better. I have painted plenty of really BAD paintings. And still do, although not quite so many.
So what do you do with a piece of art that just didn’t turn out the way that you wanted? Here are several options.
Examine the piece carefully and determine just what you are unhappy with. The color, subject matter, composition, execution, the method of painting, etc.?
Ask yourself if there is some way to correct the mistake? Not all mediums can be corrected but many can.
Ask a friend for input. Sometimes we know something is off but just can’t see the mistake although it may be glaring to some new eyes.
Scrape off the paint or paint over the mistake. You may even need to paint over the entire canvas. I have done this many times and just started over. Or even explore a new idea rather the one you were pursuing.
Trash it. Burn it, destroy it. Some people recommend that you keep your bad work to inspire you but I think it will only haunt you. Use it as a learning experience and move on. It can be very cathartic to throw your canvases into the burn barrel. I’ve had very few regrets over many years.
One thing that I don’t recommend is to donate the bad artwork. It may come back to haunt you as when someone picks it up a resale shop or flea market. And don’t pawn it off on your friends and relatives. They’ll be too polite to tell you and will resent moving it around from place to place over the years.
Finally, don’t stress about a bad painting. It happens. That’s OK. We learn from our mistakes and just promise yourself that you’ll do better next time. It’s only a painting, after all.
I had the great pleasure of hand delivering my painting Bread to my friend Miriam. She was so delighted to be able to buy this. “Making this bread was the best experience of my time during the COVID pandemic.” Miriam used my bread recipe for no-touch sourdough bread. I heard back from so many friends and blog followers that they loved this recipe.
Posted onJuly 1, 2021|Comments Off on SUPER SUMMER SALE 40-70% OFF
SUPER SUMMER SALE, JULY ONLY! 40 – 70% off! Normally I have a studio sale every autumn and invite friends and locals out to my studio for some super sale items. Feed them my famous minestrone soup, desserts, wine, etc. A real party for everyone plus they can get some great bargains. Since I couldn’t do that last year, I am offering a SUPER SUMMER SALE of select items just for JULY. They will be priced at 40 to 70% off and new items will be added every day. Some items will even be reduced over the month. Check back often for new SUPER deals. As always, FREE SHIPPING.
Life out here on my 90 acres has been so busy this spring. Making some progress tackling my three page list of things to do (yes, really!) but there are still plenty of things left to do.
We got a late start planting the garden this year on May 15th. I did manage to plant the first crop of corn on April 27th. It is now as tall as I am. The freeze in early May delayed planting but we got to everything else in one day. Then we had about a week and a half of hot, dry weather so I had to haul water.
The past few weeks have been pretty wet but at least not gully-washers as sometimes happens. I planted really wide rows to allow my husband to get down them with the rototiller. This is after I hoe around the individual plants. As you can see, everything is really established now.
The cicada invasion has been here and gone. Finally! Hundreds of thousands of the bugs. The birds, toads and lizards are full. A week and a half ago, the noise was deafening. Today, barely anything at all. Wait another seventeen years. And, no, I did not eat any. Blech!
Other chores which needed attention. Trimming out the lane (1/3 mile) both on the sides and overhead. This is a several day job, particularly during the extreme heat and humidity.
Then I started on other tasks: trimming bushes, digging flowerbeds, potting flowers, etc. And those are just the outside chores. There are many other tasks, cleaning the greenhouse, attics, closets, preparing for company. Taking the grandkids on road trips or to art classes. It’s always something.
But, I am still able to get out to the studio, mostly in the afternoons. (Outdoor work is reserved for mornings when it’s cool.) Recently I created a small series of sunrise paintings. Who doesn’t love a beautiful sunrise? Every one is different. And contemplating my next big series. Just some ideas rolling around but I’ll get there.
How’s your summer going? I hope you’re having some fun, seeing some friends and family as things open up now. Still cautiously keeping safe but a little freer.
I'm a professional artist, retired director of a performing arts center, bona fide book addict, and enjoy the quiet life...most of the time. I'd love to hear from you or get your ideas for future posts. Come back soon!