Sunday, June 25, 2017

Cinnamon Sky Longhorn

Does she look familiar?
This little longhorn loves to have her picture taken, is such a pretty little cow, and is really fun to paint.
She's Cookie Dough, and she's always interested in whoever is spending the weekend crafting and relaxing at Welcome Home Retreat in Weatherford, Texas.


CHERI: I think I'm going to call our June painting weekend "The Longhorn Workshop." What if we all paint a longhorn?
ME:: I love it! I'm in!
CHERI:We'll do a couple of small projects, kind of warm ups.  Then we'll each do different longhorns.
ME: You know I love that! I can't wait.
CHERI: I've got an idea for this project.
ME: Great.  Should we come with one already drawn up.
CHERI: No, I want the canvases to be blank.  I'm going to teach you to draw them.  You'll love it.
ME: Ummm... no... I don't think so.
CHERI: You'll have to trust me.  You can do this.  It will be so freeing.  I've got some strategies that will make it easy.
ME: Yeahhhhhh... nooo... I can't draw.  
CHERI: Wait 'til you see this technique.  You'll love it.  It's kind of mathematical. 
ME: Ugh... This my pretend happy voice... 

CHERI: Gather 'round, you'll see how quickly this can come together.
ME: I trust you, but... ugh...

It's all about thirds... horn tip to head, across the head, head to horn tip... then same distance from eyes to nose... then that distance plus half from top knot to nose tip...
Just block in some lines and rectangles... Measure from the center cross... Half way from top to bottom put in the eyes, lower than you think... Look for darks and lights...
 Go try it on your canvas... Thirds... Use a ruler if you need to... just get it on the canvas... 
She doesn't like it when she gets attention or bragged on... but my goodness... what a master... master painter... master teacher... 

... believes in her students when they certainly don't believe in themselves... until they do... believe in themselves...

Eventually, we had to leave watching her and move to our own blank... very... very blank... canvases...

Unbelievable... It actually looked like... well... a cow... but...
Deep breath... what was next... darks and lights??

Then frustration...
Every one was working hard...
I got quiet...
No one was looking... 

I don't know if...
... if I needed inspiration...
... if I wanted to relieve tension...
...if I was feeling rebellious...
...if I lost my mind...

But, when Cheri walked around and got to my canvas, she said, "My, that's bold!"

I knew when I started it would be worthy of either a spanking or a gold star... 

Once the background made its way from ridiculous to fabulous (in my humble opinion), I was still so frustrated with the cow, and I've painted many cows!

Cheri said, "Close your computer, and free yourself from the reference photo. Just change the angle of that cow and make her look at you straight on.  Don't panic.  It will be simple. She must have been standing on a hill. Just lower the back by bringing down that background an inch or two. Let's un-twist her by bringing her stomach out on the other side. Just wipe off some background and add some cow."
... so... so... simple... 
Thank you, my dear teacher, mentor, friend!

Original Oil Painting on 14" x 18" Wrapped Canvas.
Click "Cinnamon Sky Longhorn" to purchase this painting.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Country Road in Autumn

Don't you just want to drive down this road real slow in a truck with the windows down and the radio on a country station?
Yeah... I do. 
But it has to be on this exact day... no longer hot, but not cold yet... the day before some of the leaves wouldn't have turned, and the next day they'll have begun to fall.
Hhhhhhhh.... just makes me sigh...
A car or a cow or a person would just stifle my mind's imagination for this scene.  
I'm wondering... 
Who lives down the road?  
How much farther 'til 'we're there?  
How far away is the nearest store?  
How often is this road traveled? Do you have to pull over if you meet another car?
Are there cattle behind that fence? or a horse? maybe a donkey!
What sounds would I hear if I was there? birds? crickets?

I love the peaceful tone; however, I have to say it was odd working on an autumn painting in June!  I've heard musicians say how weird it is to record a Christmas album in July.  I guess it's kind of the same.  😉

This was the second project Cheri had for us during our painting weekend at Welcome Home Retreat.  Lots of lessons from this one... perspective...vanishing point... light source... claiming freedom from the reference photo... using bits of sky color in other areas of the canvas...

And, just for fun... As I began working on this post I realized something.
I wonder... If we have a third workshop... ??? Oh, dear... you do not want to see my third painting... It was a white cup on a black background... not good... not good at all... 
My first painting ever
February 2007
Our first  painting workshop
 February 2017

My second painting ever
March 2007
Our second painting workshop
 June 2017

Original Oil Painting on 9" x 12" Wrapped Canvas
Click "Country Road in Autumn" if you'd like to purchase this painting.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Robin's Nest with Two Eggs

Our back porch has become our favorite "outdoor living space" (as they call it on HGTV). No matter what season or weather, there are always birds chirping.  I'm not sure which bird says what, but I love hearing them.  I don't know where they hide their nests, but I love knowing they're there.

This nest was the perfect get-back-into-it project for me after a couple of months without painting.

AND... what a wonderful weekend!  I got to be a part of a painting workshop taught by Cheri Wollenberg at Welcome Home RetreatIt was a perfect balance of laughing... learning... relaxing... creating...!

The technique for this one didn't involve a paintbrush for a long time.  We used rubber gloves, scraps of cloth dipped in paint, and then an eraser.  

Lo and behold... it worked!


Here's a little peek at the relaxing part.  Don & Jackie prepare such delicious meals and take such good care of us while we're there!

Click "Robin's Nest with Two Eggs" to purchase this little painting.
Original Oil Painting on 6" x 6" Wrapped Canvas.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

My First Day of Retirement

I haven't painted or written on my blog in over a month... 
Life has just... well it's just kept me from it.
😊It's at the end too, but just in case you don't make it to the end... 😊

I've been retired now for about 24 hours.

Has it sunk in?  No.
Am I completely emotionally drained? Yes.
Have I got my thoughts about it together? No.

I've been shown so much love.
I have felt so humbled and so honored.

I have always believed that writing is the physical act of organizing thoughts, and right now my thoughts are a scattered, jumbled mess.
Honestly, I don't think I'm quite ready to gather them.

So... for today, I'll let pictures rather than words tell the emotions.

It began before I was prepared for it (or I would certainly have worn something besides a school t-shirt and jeans!) when I received appreciation for my work with the intern program from the University. 

Oh, how I love working with interns, and how many have become wonderful teachers!

Whenever anyone would say, "You can never be replaced!" my reply would be, "Then I've failed as a mentor because I've worked really hard to train countless young teachers to do just that."

...With my two interns from this year.  They are going to be such fine teachers.

My district provided a beautiful banquet to honor retirees.

I got to invite my most important people to join me.
Of course, my favorite...
He really is the best.

My dad. He's 90.
So glad he could come.
He and my mother taught Agriculture and Home Economics for 20 years.
My son and daughter-in-law.  

I missed having my daughter and son-in-law. Maryland is just a little too far away.

My people...
Melanie - my 4th grade teaching teammate, my friend
Mona - our school secretary, my friend
Julie - my 3rd grade teacher down the hall, my friend

My assistant principal came to support me. Love her so.
Wow... once my fourth grader, now a teacher and mentor herself.
 My former principal, now assistant superintendent.  I learned so much about professionalism from him.
My first principal, way back when I was just a student teacher.  He took care of me.  
 Then...When I got to the school early the next morning...
This was right in front of "my spot."

Later that day...

Surrounded by 56 of my favorite people.
To reveal this...

And just when I think I cannot possible cry any more...
Click for a little video of this...
love, Love, LOVE!!
These people... my school family!
Love them so...
After I warned that if they ever noticed the stone missing, they might think to check my own garden at home...

At our fourth grade graduation, they presented me with another to keep...
... and yes... I cried again...


Sunday, April 30, 2017

When it Rains...

It started out to be a pretty relaxing Saturday.  We sat on the back porch and enjoyed watching the rain.

But the rain kept falling...
... and falling...
         ... and falling...
He'd been out there in the lightning pushing piles of leaves to let the water get across and over the road.

Then we just watched...

That's my garden. At this point the border has kept the water out.

** Spoiler alert... It gets completely covered.
When the neighbor's pond across the highway overflowed, our ditch became a river.
The Girls were my companions. I'm like the Pied Piper, they just follow me where ever I go.

That whole area is supposed to be green, and that line in the back left is has a road under it.  
The hill on the right is actually our pond... which has never overflowed... until yesterday...
Meanwhile, on the other side... that's a little scary.

What a helpless feeling...

The foundation is pretty high, so it didn't get inside at all... so thankful!
 If this was just a picture of a river, it would be really pretty.
But considering I was standing beside our garage...

That's Ron's little shed. It's plastic and just has lawn mowers and stuff like that.  It's okay.
During the afternoon we had a break in the rain and lightning for about two hours when there was only a light sprinkle.  The water left the front yard, and the chickens had a worm feast!

Ron went back out got rid of downed branches and limbs that were impeding the flow, cleared the gutters, and just looked around.

When the water comes over the top of your rain boots, there's not much point.

Then the rains returned... all... night... long...
No cable, no internet... just the phones telling us that we were under a flash flood watch... ummm.. got that message pretty clearly...
I heard we got 12 inches of rain.  
That's an awful lot of water.
Today the sun was shining.  It was a gorgeous day.  All is good.