My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Life brings you joy, happiness, challenges, changes and a long list of other things. This last year I sold my beach house, got a divorce and could only afford a small older cottage. It is amazing how well we all can adopt.

So begins a new story in my life in a small waterfront town in Washington half a year, and in California the other half. The little house has literally nothing in the yard, but brush that people left for years under the trees. My gardener from my last house took out two full dump trucks full of yard waste and etc. I have spent a lot of time putting down beauty bark, and will slowly plant the garden. (not today) Friends have been generous with gleanings from their gardens, so I know in the long run it will be lovely and carefree! (In appearance, not maintenance)

The entire little house has been painted the brightest white available, and I would love to replace doors, trim and cabinets, but that is not in the budget at the moment. I cheated on the drawing, as the house is actually yellow, not my favorite color! So hopefully next summer we can paint it a nice dark gray.

Every day is a new and mostly fun challenge. Today I discovered who ever lived here waxed the ceramic tile floor. It was already kind of an ugly light pink, but it never looked clean. Today Clorox and a brush on my knees, and a metal scraper, helped it look a tiny bit better.

I serendipitously came to see my first love from college again about a year ago. His late wife was a sorority sister, a beautiful and smart woman whose Celebration of Life I attended. It was wonderful to see they had a wonderful life together. I guess I had always wondered how his life had gone. It was a beautiful celebration and I was so happy to know he had a good life and two wonderful children. It was amazing to reconnect with so many of my AX sorority sisters from fifty years ago.

Over time Reed & I talked and discovered, both being widowed there was still some magic in life. We are having a amazing time getting to know each other in our seventies. You never know what will happen in life.

With the wildfires and COVET 19 life is not simple for anyone. The air quality was so bad in Washington when I wrote this, I was not sure if it is even a good idea to go to my garage to paint. We are having strange times. I feel lucky to be sharing it with someone so positive, loving and laughing.

My Little Cottage (not by the sea)

Red Meets Black!

In addition to sketching and doing a relatively impressionistic type paint, I love doing big abstracts. This one did not take much time, but just made me happy painting. I usually put on some great music and just enjoy the energy. Stacey Kent is my newest artist of choice. I was introduced to her music when staying a friend’s house. With all the fires going on in Washington, Oregon and California the idea struck me that the all the fury of the fires leaves behind the sadness of the blackened trees and lost homes.

This is fairly large at 48″ wide x 24″ tall.

Red Meets Black!

Love sketching

I was in Vacaville, California when the pandemic began and it was a time, when the big excitement of the day was going for a drive or sitting on the front porch having a glass of wine. I don’t sit still well, so got some pens and started sketching the neighborhood. My oil paints were still in Washington, so could not paint. (Won’t do that again). Here are some of the in house and neighborhood sketches done at that time.

I started with simple sketches around the house.

Beautiful roses in a vase. Probably should have added color. (Oh well)

Drew the house on the corner.

And the house across the street.

Then added color to the house on the corner across the street.

Another house right across the street

And added color

Drew a tree rose in the front garden

Drove back to Bainbridge where I drew my girlfriend’s flower pot. I moved to my little Port Ludlow Cottage and spent the next couple of months trying to organize and move in to the house.

My friend and I were out and about and stopped in Port Gamble in a newly opened wine bar for a glass and a charcuterie plate and I like the house so I took a photo on the way out and drew the house below. I had an extra frame, so I framed the house and dropped by as a gift to the owners.

Once in a while it is just fun to do a nice and unexpected gift!

Love sketching

Art Classes

This summer I took quite a few Art Workshops with different painters. From some, I discovered new ways of seeing art. From others, I had a good review of the basics of art, something all artists should think about from time to time.   As would be expected, I enjoyed a couple of my classes better than others.

I am not a floral artist, but I took a studio with Stanley Bielen where we painted small florals, vegies or anything we selected from a table full of fun objects.  My first was a copy of the demo he did for the class. Stanley 1.jpg

Being happy with that, I found a small white teapot and put together a rather whimsical painting with the teapot.  All of these pieces are 6″ x 8″ or 8″ x 10″, a size I had not done much work in before, so small was a little challenging to me.

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The class lasted three days and each day I discovered something new or different. Stanley is a funny and intelligent instructor that kept the class laughing with stories and kept our interest by sharing facts and information about other current artists that he has met.  The class had students from all over the United States and Canada. It was fun being in a class with such dedicated artists.

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Going searching the table for the next object or objects to paint I spotted this beautiful turnip and loved the contrast of the bright orange peppers next to it.  Purple and orange are two of my favorite colors, so this was fun to paint and I was pleased with the composition.

Day three and a lot of the flowers on the table were starting to look a little limp, and having had such fun painting the turnip, I decided to do another vegetable – a Bok Choy. Bok Choy.jpg

I loved the floppy character of the Bok Choy and felt I “captured” the essence in this little painting.  By the last day in the afternoon, I was getting tired.  I was enjoying the class, but my energy level was down a bit.  I often think I am better in a two-day class. The last painting of the class was my worst of the series. yellow.jpg

I started too high on the canvas so I was not happy with the composition and composition, even of small paintings make or break the work.  I think I finally just cut off the bottom and repainted shortening the stems.

Being inspired by painting small, I took the concept to a slightly larger canvas and painted plants with pots from our local nursery.  I am pleased with the result and hope to do a few more of these in the future.  Pink flowers.jpg

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Stanely Bielen’s class at The Winslow Art Center was informative, fun and made me look at smaller objects in a new way.  This was not the first of my Summer Classes, but one I truly tried something I had not attempted before and was quite happy with the result.

One other lesson from taking many classes in too short a period of time is that every successful artist believes their paint color choices, canvas finish, and style is the best way to paint. What you should take away is that there is no one style of painting and that you can incorporate, some but not all that you gather from each professional.  Take too many classes and it becomes confusing.  Take classes from too few instructors and will realize that your paintings start to look like theirs.

I took art class once a week from the same instructor for twelve years.  One day after they opened a small local gallery and I was taking a hiatus from painting I walked by the gallery and my youngest son (in his thirties) said to me: Why do all the paintings shown here look the same, even though there were four or five artists represented?”  It was at that moment I decided to take classes from a variety of different professional artists.

Art Classes

Old in Art School

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When I saw the title of this book, I was immediately attracted to it. This is the year I turn seventy. At sixty-two I completed my Ph. D. in Business Marketing, not in art, although I did finish my BA in Art in 1971 and my MA in Art (although with an emphasis in interior design) in 1985. I understand going back to school when a little older is all about attitude. I laughed at the beginning of the book, as the author described the other students, the attire, the classrooms and the fear of failure, but as I listened on to the audio-book I liked it less and less.  One of the reviews of the book described how I innately felt perfectly:

“I was excited to dive into this book, hopeful for little nuggets of wisdom for my similar journey and perhaps a laugh or two in self-reflection. Instead, the reader encounters a self-indulgent, needy author who repetitively presents an inventory of her resume ad nauseam. She used this book to disparage other students all while trying to impress the reader by spewing supercilious comments and including very little about the process or art school. This book had so much potential but was so disappointing.” 

It is interesting to think that no matter how successful you were in what you did before, no one in your art classes knows that or cares about that. I had a little of that this weekend when I took a tonal painting class of street scenes.  I love the work of the man that taught the class and I learned quite a bit in the class. Mostly I learned I don’t like doing a tonal painting.  I love painting with color! Color kept creeping into my paintings in the class and I kept getting in “trouble” for adding too much color.    Sometimes in life, it is just as important to know what we don’t like, as much as what we love.

When I sat down to write my blog, I thought I would look at the artwork of the author of the book before I wrote a lot about it. Viewing her artwork, the first thought that crossed my mind was that she wrote this book, not about her real art school experience, but to promote herself and her art. Her background is in writing and history, so she knows how to write about history, but in this book, she makes being older a roadblock, not an advantage. She has gotten quite a bit of attention over the book, and thus her art. What is totally missing in this book, are all the other wonderful artists that started their art life later in life. She is certainly not alone!

Maybe I should write about starting and stopping art in your life. You start as a child and my case went on to study it in college. Then you start a career, get married, have children (oops no time for art), and in my case was widowed at a young age and raised my sons on my own and don’t have much time for art till your children are grown and have lives of their own.

When she started talking about how you have to dress to be a successful artist, I started losing interest.  Moving forward to discuss the philosophical side of the history or artists (in her opinion) I began wondering if I wanted to bother to listen to the rest of the book.

The book made me think about my own tonal experience. You can enjoy viewing art that you do not enjoy attempting. You can be award-winning in other fields and not art, and still enjoy painting. I have had many art shows, but never entered a contest with my art.

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The class was a learning experience. We worked on these small the first afternoon after watching a demo in the morning. The one on the top right was the first one with the second below and the third in ochre tones.

We moved forward painting in a slightly larger format the second day after another morning demo. My green trees are too green for tonal painting, but as I said I like “color”.

Street scene from Terry Miura Class.jpg The last and/or third day we had options of what we could paint.  I chose to paint a facade of a building, as I used to do a lot of rendering in interior design school, and as an interior design college professor.  I am still working on the facade and realized when I stood back and looked at it, I had added a shadow to the awning, and now I had shadows coming from two directions.  I will try to make the correction and add it to the post. The building and the cafe next door need names too!

I heard once, and again in this class: “If the painting is not selling, add a dog.” I think this painting may need a dog-walker with several dogs. I think it is better to laugh at oneself, that try to be pompous about what you cannot do.

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As always, I walked away having learned something new, met new people that love art and enjoyed the camaraderie of painting with new and old friends.

I will continue to listen to the rest of the book and hope it gets better, but reading several reviews I don’t think that will be the case. It makes me want to write a funnier book on a similar topic. One of the other reviewers wrote: “More of a self-congratulate memoir of past achievements than a book of more recent achievements. Disappointing … could have been much more.” 

It could have been written in a much more positive manner and encourage those of us over twenty to try different things.

Old in Art School

Taking Art Classes

After a little hiatus from painting impressionistic work, I am back taking some classes and really enjoying the art of the little painting.  A couple of months ago I took a class at the Winslow Art Center by David Marty for six weeks and really enjoyed learning new ideas and techniques.  The class is and was fun (new section now) as we paint one photograph in class (can finish at home) and do another one for “homework”.  It has gotten me back doing one of the things in life I love the most (cooking being the second).Painting Class 1.jpg

This was the first painting I did in class and really enjoyed the process and continued to use some of what I learned in painting number two which was our homework assignment.

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Back in class, we critiqued what we had done at home and worked on a new photo.  Everyone seemed to like my homework and it is still the favorite of my husband.

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Back in class we worked more on reflection and tree shapes and were sent home with homework of painting the garden.  I did not love the “garden”, so reversed it and added a little girl in the garden.  It looks a little “old world” to me and is not one of my favorites.

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From there we went to working on a road scene, which I thought was fun and liked the result.  It is fun to see your style change and grow in a rather short amount of time.

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Painting homework for that week, seemed a bit overwhelming to me when I started working on it, as it seemed to be mostly “just trees”, and to try to make that look interesting was somewhat challenging.

 

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I think it turned out better than I would have predicted and it did not take a lot of time, or I should say I did not spend a lot of time on it.

One of the other things I was doing while taking the class was working on a three foot by five-foot commission for a design client, so it was interesting going from working on an 8″ x 10″ or 9″ x 12″ to working on the larger scale.

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Back in class, we worked on painting rocks on this cliffside painting with rocks and trees.  For once I did not finish in class and worked on the rocks when I got home.  I have started collecting art books, which are always good for getting ideas of how to do something differently.

 

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Homework came as another road scene with a barn off to the side.  I really enjoyed working on this one and liked the result, although I did tweak it a bit after the class.

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Coming back to class we had the opportunity to work on a Night Scene, and this is what I came up with for the project.

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This one came out more abstracted than any of the others I had done. The teacher of the class seemed to like it.  And homework was of a barn, as requested by someone in the class.  I have painted a lot of barns, but usually 18″ x 24″ or bigger, so this was fun.

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Working on skies with lots of clouds came next.  Have you ever noticed that the lowest clouds are always parallel to the horizon?  The more I paint the more I notice these things. We painted this in class and difference in how people see the same thing is amazing to me.

We were sent home with more homework after our first six classes, as everyone in the class asked if the same teacher could come back to teach another four-week session.

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We came back to class and the first day we painted waves.  Now, this may look easy, but to make them look real (and interesting) I found quite challenging.

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Following the beach scene we were sent home the following assignment, which I did twice, as I did not like the first one very much.

Number 1

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Number 2:

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Tell me if you can see the differences.  I liked the second one much better.  This is becoming a trend now with me and seems the second one is always better.

Since we were all snowed in for more than a week, the perfect exercise for the class must have been working on snow paintings.  We did a series of two and I painted them both twice.

Number 1:

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Number 2:

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There is quite a difference between these two.  I painted the second one in class.

On to the second snow scene, which both are homework. I didn’t love the first one, so I painted it again.

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Number 2:

 

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I do not know what adventure we will paint tomorrow, but I know it will be fun.

Port Gamble Diana.jpg‘So we all worked on a photo taken at Port Gamble in the mist.  Here is my rendition.  This week we have two homework assignments (Oh my) and to bring in a piece we are working on.  I don’t have anything in process, so will start a new Airstream and take it to class.

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So here is what I took to class.  We did two more homework assignments. I made a couple of changes to both and here they are.  It was a great class and I think everyone learned a lot.  It is always good to see something from someone else’s perspective.

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The photo of these Madronas are probably not something I would have ever chosen to paint, but it makes for a rather eerie effect.

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The photo of the stream literally had no color, so I enhanced it in Photoshop and even though it is a bit “green”, I rather like the result. Can’t wait till the next time I take a class.  Oh wait, it is not that long I take one this weekend.

Taking Art Classes

Snowy Day Painting

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It was another cold and snowy day in Kingston, Washington today.  The weather was so bad my painting class was canceled this weekend.  Last Tuesday my class was canceled too!  So I decided to do the homework for the class today in my studio.  I have never done a snow scene, so spent some time looking through my art books for ideas and then painted this 9 x 12-inch painting.

Considering it is the first time I have tried painting snow, I feel good about it.  You don’t always feel great about what you create, but today I smiled when I finished and really did not spend that much time on it.

Snowy Day Painting

Studio Update

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Every art studio could use a cozy corner for reading art books.  This last week my husband built these two-inch shelves with a lip for setting finished small pieces and works in progress. Now I need to get busy and paint some more small works.

Next weekend he is going to add more shelves for bigger pieces.  It is wonderful, as they are all straight on the bottom for once.

Every challenge yourself to something and feel either great about accomplishing it or bad that you failed (the first time).  This year I challenged myself to read 75 books on the Goodreads challenge and can very proudly say I accomplished that goal. The year before I attempted to bake every bread in Paul Hollywood’s Bread Book.  I made it about 2/3’s of the way and gained a couple of pounds, but did not finish the book. I still love to bake and may just try to finish it. I take my baked goods to my local fire department, so they are enjoyed and not wasted.  My wonderful local fire department surprised me with a gift certificate the last two years.  That made me cry the first year, as I was amazed they recognized the gift. This year I felt a little guilty as I felt I did not take as much, but will up the ante as the year goes on.

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Now with 2019 coming up, I decided I would follow the example of Kevin McPhearson, the author and artist of “Reflections on a Pond”, and paint the view of the water in front of my house every day of the year. If I don’t have time to paint on a particular day, I will take a photo and paint it later. I find it an interesting thought and am hoping it will improve my painting skills.

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Studio Update

30 Design Mistakes You Should Never Make from Houzz

This article came on my newsfeed this morning and I thought it was very interesting.  While I agree with most, I do not agree with all. There are as many opinions about design as there are people with opinions. 

Drop the paint can, step away from the brick and read this remodeling advice from people who’ve been there

April 21, 2016
There are a million and one things to consider when taking on a remodeling project. Some of those decisions have the potential to significantly impact your home — and in turn your emotional well-being — for years to come. It doesn’t matter how functional your new kitchen is, for example, if you hate the flooring material you chose. It’s going to eat away at you every single day.

In hopes of preventing these situations, we asked readers for design advice on things you should never, ever do during a remodel. Their suggestions are quite revealing, and worth considering. But remember, the thing about advice is that you don’t have to take it. After all, the main takeaway message here should be that no matter what, it’s your home. And you should do whatever you want. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

30 Design Mistakes You Should Never Make from Houzz