Thursday, May 31, 2012


...for PPF

 (Watercolor on canvas)
My mother always called it a nest, the multi-colored mass harvested from her six daughters' brushes, and handed it to one of us after she had shaped it, as we sat in front of the fire drying our hair. She said some birds steal anything, a strand of spider's web, or horse's mane, the residue of sheep's wool in the grasses near a fold where every summer of her girlhood hundreds nested. Since then I've seen it for myself, their genius— how they transform the useless. I've seen plastics stripped and whittled into a brilliant straw, and newspapers—the dates, the years— supporting the underweavings. As tonight in our bed by the window you brush my hair to help me sleep, and clean the brush as my mother did, offering the nest to the updraft. I'd like to think it will be lifted as far as the river, and catch in some white sycamore, or drift, too light to sink, into the shaded inlets, the bank-moss, where small fish, frogs, and insects lay their eggs. Would this constitute an afterlife? The story goes that sailors, moored for weeks off islands they called paradise, stood in the early sunlight cutting their hair. And the rare birds there, nameless, almost extinct, came down around them and cleaned the decks and disappeared into the trees above the sea.  Darwin's Finches by Deborah Digges
(Close up from watercolor above 5/31/12: NAM)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Geese Feet

Could be a goose:

Turn up your speakers and listen to ‘Flock of geese’ on Audioboo.

...and these are definitely the feet of a goose.  I am enchanted with the picture and the verse that Debra has associated with the feet of Titus, her goose, over at her Sparrowgrass blog:

"It is tolerably safe to say that those who wear loose, easy-fitting shoes and boots will never be troubled with corns. Some people are more liable to corns than others, and some will persist in the use of tightly-fitting shoes in spite of corns." ~Our Deportment~Or-The Manners, Conduct and Dress of the Most Refined Society, 1880

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Frog's a Jumpin'

...on silk

Dimensions finished: 16" x 20" under glass; mat size opening: 10.5" x 13.5"

I finally completed a frog painted on  8 mm silk with colors that blended correctly.  It was set with steam for three hours on top of the stove, then ironed and matted and placed in a purchased frame under glass.

Close up of Mr. Frog who is about 11" in length

This was one I painted a few weeks ago on thinner silk, using basically the same line drawing, but with less dye, and transparent gutta, making a softer effect:

Minnemie first painted a frog on lily pads in watercolors.  She was kind enough to let me take inspiration from her art.  I loved the way she made the colors flow, and thought it would make up well in silk. (please do make a visit to her blog as she shows her wonderful watercolors here on her blog).  Minnemie also quotes nice verse along with her painting.  You will enjoy her musings.

Monday, May 21, 2012

A Nice Pair of Socks and a Watercolor

...are finished.  Hermione's Everyday Socks were knit from a free pattern available here on Ravelry.  It is the second pair I've knit from that same pattern.

The yarn was purchased almost two years ago at The Rummer Tavern in Cardiff, Wales at a meet up with independent yarn dyers.  Thanks, "Jellybean," for this nice sock yarn you dyed in autumn colors.

The heel was knit in a different yarn just for the grins of it.  It took about two weeks to knit this pair.  And that yarn is exactly the colors in my old Keen Sandals...

Then I saw a little bird that I thought would look cute hanging on a clothes line with my knitted socks, so I drew it and painted it in those Derwent Inktense pencils.  Here it is:

(Next time I'll use watercolor paper; this was painted on a canvas board...not such a good idea, but fun.)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Derwent Watercolor Pencils

Half finished, and only a portion of the canvas shown (still working on a frog) but it works for PAINT PARTY FRIDAY:
(sketched in with Derwent Watercolor Pencils)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

You Knit Me Together in My Mother's Womb

For the Inspiration Avenue Weekly Challenge on "hearts," my brother tried his best to help me use the basics of Photoshop, but I failed miserably.  He even made me a 13 minute tutorial on layers and how to create images by combining pictures together.

It looked easy when he did it on his video, but there were so many intricacies that I could come up with only one half-way presentable image by combining two heart art clips on top of one image. Then I couldn't save the danged thing except to a .pdf file.
 (Mother and daughter in NIC unit, Kentucky, 1970)

"...You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body."  (Psalms 139, verse 13, 15, 16)

So there are a couple of clip art hearts on my daughter and me.  My certainly won't win any awards, but it was valuable in at least learning a few basics on the software of Photoshop.

Join in Art with Heart and show us some of your favorite heart-y inspirations like these:


                                                                              Palmarin Merges : In the Studio

Monday, May 14, 2012

What a Wonderful World

David Attenborough and BBC presents:

Friday, May 11, 2012

Inspiration Avenue Challenge: A Mother's Hand

Happy Mothers' Day to All

Inspiration Avenue, hosted by Shelley and her mom, Loretta, is challenging you to participate in something to do with a mother's hands.  Loretta says...
Did you know that the word hand appears in the King James Bible 1296 times? Now that definitely shows us how important hands were to God, our creator. Don’t you know He put a lot of thought into creating our hands, knowing all the things they would do for us in our day to day activities?

Being uninspired, but loving the picture of my mother and me in 2000 just before she died, I used it as a tool to try and draw my mother's hands; in this case, it was her left hand.  

I had always loved her hands.  Those bright red fingernails were one of her fashion signatures.

This is the sketchbook drawing:

And here is mother's (cropped) left hand.

It was a true art challenge, but it was a way to say "Happy Mother's Day" in a fond remembrance.

Please go here and join in the challenge.
also for ppf

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mud Man Figurines

Yesterday I was cleaning off the patio, recovering a foot stool, watering plants...the usual springtime sprucing up routine.

That old jade plant to the right of the rocker atop the mosaic table top I made three years ago was brought outdoors, cleaned, watered and examined.  Too leggy, not enough light.  Perhaps a summer on the patio will help that situation.

On closer examination, the mud man sitting on the soil (above right in picture) was also taken out and scrutinized more closely.  I cleaned it, looked at his hands, his back, the shrub in front of him, and wondered what the mud man was trying to tell me.

The mud man was whipping his back in self flagellation.  What was behind the "mud man" and how did he come about?

This is what I found Edensong:
The figurines are commonly known as mud figures or figurines, mud people, mud men, mudd men, or mudmen. 
Over 1000 years ago, Chinese artisans during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), were creating landscape bonsai, miniature landscapes in a tray, a practice known as Pen'Jing.  To capture the realism of a favorite countryside or mountain scenic view, the artists added rocks and planted small trees in a large ceramic tray to simulate the panorama on a smaller scale. These were intended to invoke a harmonious feeling to the viewers. In an effort to capture the illusion, the Chinese artisans used figurines of people, animals, huts and temples, which gave an appearance of great age and size to the miniature forests. 
Figurines have had a place in bonsai as a visual contribution. Pen'Jing, nearly a lost art form, is experiencing a revival in modern day China and is once again popular with Chinese bonsai enthusiasts. The prosperous Manchurian Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1912) began declining at the end of the 18th century. The successful export market for fine china was impaired by excessive competition for the wares.  Pottery and figurines dominated the Chinese export trade well into the next century.  Mud figures  thrived, as they were different from ordinary figurines.  They were made individually by hand and involved nearly all members of the village. 
 Mudmen were brightly glazed figurines of men, women, wise men and old sages, seated or standing, holding flutes, scrolls, pots, fish and other objects of mystical importance or sometimes fishing.  After completion of  the rice harvest and the dry season set in, villagers turned to figurine production to stimulate the economy. For smaller ones, the artist just picked a small piece of mud and in no time made a figurine out of it by using their two fingers. 
My little mud man was purchased several years ago at a local nursery and cost around $10-$15.  I'll be on the lookout for more because they intrigue me.  Ebay has quite a few authentic ones (and reproductions) if you are interested in purchasing a mud man.  You can tell yourself a story of what the mud man is saying to you.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sparrows and Lilies of the Field

...joining in with Floss at her blog to write about the The Thrill of What You Already Have...

This will be an introspective post, so sit down with your coffee as you are invited to take more than a minute to read about a virtual friend and what she has written here about needing a summer job to help the dormouse and her husband get through the summer on a more even note.

After reading what the dormouse wrote, it stirred me into thinking about how God takes care of us in ways we can't even imagine.  This is what she says in part of her post and in quoting scripture:
I have spent a couple of nights lying awake worrying, ... I need to bring my worrying mind to rest and try to trust God... 
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?"

The "thrill of what I already have" is a powerful memory of my mother in the late 1960's.

To set the scene: she and I lived in a small, conservative Texas town.  She was divorced, coming out of an almost catatonic 18 month depression (remember, we did not have psychiatric drugs back then save for electroshock therapy).  We had just moved out of her parents' home where we had lived for two years, completely dependent on them. We had very little money, living in a small and very old rental house made of stone.

The memory which I want to recall as most impressive, however, is that of mother saying many times that if God could care enough to provide food for the sparrows and to clothe the lilies of the field in glory, that He would certainly take care of us.   And He did.  She died in 2000, and He continued to take care of her throughout her life, as she had always trusted.

Certainly not all of what gives us a thrill is on the physical plane, as this particular memory still gives me pause.  I think of mother speaking of the well being of the sparrows and the beauty of the lilies when worry begins it insidious way of worming into my soul, and I am always comforted.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Planting Weekend

Saturday was planting day over the weekend.  Home Depot and Walmart were the places I shopped, purchased and then planted:

Two dozen geraniums in pots

Perennial Sweet Flag grasses and three dozen small marigold plants

Assorted flowers that grow well in sun, like coreopsis

 (established ground cover)
Last, a dwarf Alberta spruce that did not seem dwarf upon planting:

Did you plant over the weekend?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Today is Ralph's 100th Birthday and PPF

Ralph Smith, born in Denver, Colorado on May 3, 1912 has seen many changes over his 100 years.

Ralph was a golf pro, a teacher, a golf caddy, and was involved in all things golf.  He spent most of his life in California and was married to his wife, Bobbie, for over 50 years.  He remains an active member of the Church of the Latter Day Saints.

Verda, his friend and companion who looks after his well-being, honored him with a party that included a huge birthday cake, complete with green icing and decorated with golf balls.  A barbershop quartet sang songs from the early 1900's.  A luncheon followed the festivities.

Since Oreo cookies had their start 100 years ago, Verda found birthday props that also celebrated their 100 years' presence.

I am fairly sure that Ralph had a great time that day.  And I am definitely sure that Verda honored him well.

Since today is also Friday (as well as being Ralph's 100th birthday), it is "Paint Party Friday" (PPF) in artist blogger-land; here is my contribution for PPF:

Go here to join others in a PPF celebration!