Wednesday, May 21, 2014

the many greens of spring

We have had our first strawberries, our first radishes, and are almost ready for an early crop of lettuce and spinach now. It's been an abundant spring so far. Our patchy grass is finally filling in with the overseeding and hand-weeding I've been doing. Seriously, I have the blisters and the buckets of dandelions to prove it! A kind neighbor woman who walks her dogs sees me out there with the boys every day. She must think I'm crazy to try to eradicate my weeds from my lawn by hand. Seriously, who does that??

I have had visions for this yard lately. There is a fledgling hedge of lavender (8 plants) along with 3 salvia plants. The sloping hills on either side of our yard have been weeded a bit more, with several large and overgrown plants being taken out. I am planning on hydrangeas along both hills, a nice wall of hydrangeas. How dramatic! How expensive! I'm starting with small plants and will exercise patience as we watch them grow. In the back yard slope I put in three rows of steps. We started a huge strawberry patch last summer, and have added to it this year. They are all along the back yard slope, so I put in the steps to make it easier for us to get to the crop when it really comes on. Also, it gives the boys a place to play that keeps them from trampling...which they tend to do on that hill...

I've transplanted some of the abundance of day lilies around the hickory in the front yard. There was already a little patch of lilies there, but I continued them all the way around the base of the trunk. 

I don't have pictures yet, but we have dug out the back patio area in preparation for laying gravel, sand, and pavers for a new patio area. I'm really excited about that, but know it's still a couple of weeks away. Peter has taken yet more trips to gather up free "craigslist" rocks to build our rock wall in the front yard. I'm really excited about this! I hope we can get some friends together on a Saturday to get it built! It's going to be so much work, but I'm really excited to do it!

Anyway, that's the update. Right now Benny and I are off to pick up Sam from school...just one month left and he will be an official kindergarten graduate. What a year!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Every day there are a few more hours to bask in the warming sun, a few more crocuses to discover in the lawn, a few more parts of the yard to clear and make way for new plantings, a few more moments spent stretched out on a blanket, and a few more buds beginning to open on the trees. I've spotted a magnolia tree in bloom, and our red maple out back is beginning to get fuzzy with unfurling leaves. All the daffodils are more or less in bloom, the day lilies are poking out of the ground, the ivy is starting to pop up on the slopes, making the attempt to take over again this year, and I'm enjoying the few pansies I've popped into window boxes and planters in random locations by the greet us as we come and go.

This is our second spring in this house, and we have finished so many projects to this point. Last spring and summer were filled with daily work on the yard. We planted a garden, chopped down three trees to make way for the sun, removed old worn out flower/plant beds that took up most of the backyard, removed a hedge of overgrown bushes along the driveway, removed old rotted fence sections, re-seeded quite a lot of the yard that we reclaimed, planted a whole slope of strawberries along one side of the backyard, started our compost pile, relocated our raspberry plants, and filled in an old cesspool cavern in the backyard...

This year will be no different. We have dug trenches and buried pipe for the water from our downspouts, expanded the garden a bit, removed the front cement walkway and step, removed the old back patio and step, back filled the front and back entryways and planted grass, planted blueberry bushes along the back of the garden, and planted some new hydrangeas. On the docket for the rest of the season is to bring in some more earth for the back slope, plant two fruit trees (most likely apple), plant a hedge of forsythia and lilac bushes along the back yard fence line, build a large sandbox for the boys, get grass growing nicely, lay a new back patio with pavers in a herringbone pattern, place a large natural stone step for the front entryway, and build our rock wall in the front of the house. Exciting times ahead! For the garden I still have potatoes to get in, and the warmer weather veggies are doing well inside for now... The peas, lettuce, radishes, spinach and broccoli are up out in the garden, and the onion sets are beginning to show green! We've been having the most delightful weather!

That's a thing about spring here that I absolutely love, the way it takes its time and does the job right...

I have also been painting in my studio. I found two of these old frames with built in mdf panels in the center. I knew they would make beautiful frames for some landscape paintings, so I bought up three of them. I've painted two so far, and will most likely prep the third to paint, as well. This weather and sun has inspired a whole new me! Paintings, hand sewn ties for Easter, and way too much time spent in the garden talking to plants! For now though, I'm needed to feed the youngest voracious eater around here.

Friday, March 21, 2014

works in progress

I love to build things. I love to use power tools and I build all kinds of different furniture pieces for our home. My first major project from three years ago is still in use as our television armoire. It's a small cabinet that stands almost 5 feet tall and 2 1/2 feet wide. I built it almost entirely out of old reclaimed wood that I picked up off the side of the road. My oldest son used to inform me when we passed junk on the side of the road, just in case I wanted to stop and check it out for hidden treasures! I still build a lot from old wood, and I even plan projects that I need to use new wood for. I'm moving ever upward and onward! I recently built these two wood panels, 12 x 12 inches. Their faces are built from 1/4 inch furniture grade plywood. Then, on the back there is a frame made from 1 x 2 lumber. This creates a raised panel with a 1" profile. They turned out nice, and were cheaper to build myself than to buy. I enjoy painting on wood, so this is a good plan for me, minus the time it takes for me to build them...

So, these two panels got a few layers of acrylic gesso followed by a thin wash of color. I usually mix up a bit of titanium white, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow light, yellow ochre, and a touch of cobalt blue pure. Then, I thin it with some gamsol (mineral spirits) and slather a layer over the entire surface. Once that has dried I get to work with drawing. My drawings are very simple, done in charcoal initially, and then with a thinned out mixture of cobalt blue pure and burnt umber and maybe some white. Then, the colors begin to go down. I often start with the sky, either because it makes sense or, more likely, because it's my favorite part of every painting to work on. As these are completed I'll post them here and in my etsy shop.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

what i'm painting around here

I can be found with a paint brush in hand just about everyday. Some days it's a fine pointed paint brush for details in my paintings, but quite often these days it's a paintbrush that will help me with cutting in along ceilings and window trim... When we bought our awesome little fixer upper almost a year ago we knew there were lots of things to be done. Wallpaper to remove from almost every room, done. Painting every square inch of this house, done. Sanding down and oiling our wood floors, done. A garden plot to clear and some trees to remove to make room for the sun on those garden veggies, done and done. I've even painted my terrific 50's kitchen cabinets. They are in fabulous condition, even if they aren't the most efficient use of the tiny space... Initially we painted our living room a luscious golden yellow. At first I convinced myself I loooved it. Then, I quietly contemplated to myself that it wasn't so bad. Then I finally said it out loud, "This will be changed...soon." Yesterday I made good on that promise. We re-painted the walls a calm creamy white. It's like butter with a touch of gray. A shade I might consider for the outside of the house, which is in line for a paint job, too. And with a red roof we need to come up with something that doesn't scream at everyone from the side of the road!

Today I'm back at the easel. I've got 4 fresh panels ready for some landscapes.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

views and vistas

In the driving around and exploring we tend to do this time of year I've been trying to take pictures of some of the sights before me. This late winter and early spring season affords an opportunity to study the intricacies in the weather... One day there is rain or snow, another there is sunshine. One day we are bundled in winter boots and hats, another we are barefoot in the muddy garden plot. It's my favorite time of year, full of anticipation, plans, and breathing! Still so often gray, but growing in warm hues every passing day, marching ever on to the Spring!!

We've celebrated a birthday in the last month, Sam is now six. For the last six years this is how I mark the beginning of springtime. I know it's soon time to start my seeds indoors. The sun stays up in our sky a little longer every day, carrying us longer into the evening before drawing the shades and turning on all the lights... Soon the afternoon sun will slant through the windows late into the day. Soon it will be time to put in some new strawberry plants, plant the potatoes, sow the early crops, perhaps build that retaining wall in the many projects begin to emerge.

Among the projects continue to be all the paintings I have in my mind. I've got four more panels prepped and ready to go. I've had a few requests for paintings of the Cliff Walk down in Newport, so that may appear in the next couple pieces. I still have a few winter scenes to get into paintings before the pale and bright greens begin to take over the landscape. I'm watching those daffodil spikes grow taller everyday, and I'm watching for the when the grass turns an impossible shade of yellow-green...then that color may work its way back in to my work... For now I'll have to continue to make do with the pops of color from some birthday stars...

Friday, March 14, 2014

at work

The weather is beginning to change. Spring is in the air. There has been a new sense of energy for me of late. I have loads of new paintings to show you...

If you are interested in seeing my pieces as I complete them please follow me on facebook. I'll be posting my work there as it becomes available. If no one has snatched up a piece within a few days then I'll put it up in my etsy shop.

Coming into my studio lately is like being bathed in light and inspiration...

I hope spring is arriving in your neck of the woods. We are a few weeks out I'm afraid, but there are signs everywhere to enjoy and anticipate!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

bethlehem morn

This is Bethlehem. Well, not really. I've never been to Bethlehem except in my mind, so I know this isn't really what it looks like today. However, this is my impression of the Bethlehem morning, after Christ was born to Mary and Joseph. This story of my Savior's birth is a treasure to me, and I want to express it in my artwork this season. So, to my easel I go, to finish another painting of Bethlehem... 

To visit this piece in my shop click here.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! I have my turkey thawing in the fridge and plans to make some things ahead of time today and tomorrow. If I can get over this ridiculous cough then perhaps I can get started on some of that rather than wanting to sit and rest all day long... Never fear, I've got my little helper, Benjamin, around to keep me company and to keep me busy.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

two years ago

I spent some time wandering down memory lane this afternoon...a most dangerous past time. I got a little lost in some pictures and thought I'd put a few that I liked here. Two years ago, Benjamin was almost a year old, Sam was still willing to wear my handknit sweaters daily, I wore a lot more random colors and those Leia buns in my hair every day, Peter was his constant self, and life was really fun. Autumn is my favorite season, for all the anticipation in the air surrounding the holidays, the growing crispness in the weather (perfect for all those handknits!), and the simple memories from my childhood of crunchy leaves, seeing my breath, trying to squeeze all the fun out of the daylight hours, and being with family and friends. I hope I'm creating similar memories for and with my boys. They seem to like this time of year, too.

A couple of years ago we were just finishing up a year with Benny, and we were thinking about beginning our adoption paperwork again for a third child. With adoption you never know how long things will take, so you better get that paperwork going long before you really think you're even ready to think of adding to the family... Benjamin's paperwork took us over a year to complete, and then there's the waiting, wondering, preparing for a new baby... It's mostly out of your hands, but we trust and pray and hope for our miracles. And they have always come.

Right now we are in the waiting stage again. Our paperwork was completed over a year ago, we've been approved and running, so to speak, full speed ahead for the last 8 months or so. Honestly, I don't actually remember how long we've been online, with our family profile, hoping that the right person will find us and bring us another miracle. I'm not really keeping track this time. That's a good thing, because you just never know when things will happen, and life still has to happen in the meantime! So, life keeps on for us.

I have so many projects swirling around me as I try to decide just what to work on next. Peter keeps reminding me of my easel. I've had the same work in progress painting there for almost a month now. It's a scene of Bethlehem. I haven't gone near my paint brushes for almost that long. I've been finding myself more and more often sitting in the living room, where it's especially warm, with my knitting in hand. It's the time of year, it just lends itself to making warm things to wear! But I need to get to that painting. I have new ideas for my artwork, so things have been slow as I try to decide what direction to go with it all. As I begin to feel more settled in our home I'm sure I'll move at a more regular pace with the artwork.

As I'm typing this I can hear the hum of the backhoe as it back fills some holes in our yard from a freshly dug trench for a gas line. Yep, we can check that off the list, convert from oil heat to gas!! Onward and upward!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

here we are

My days are filled right now with a smorgasbord. We've almost put our entire yard to rest for the encroaching cold months. The garden is lying blissfully beneath a layer of compost and leaves. The wood pile is stacked high with wood from two trees we took down. The yard was freshly aerated and over-seeded about a month ago now. And, all the poison ivy we could find has been pulled up. I'm finally recovered from all my itchy spots, after an entire summer of the affliction! When we bought our home we knew we'd have our work cut out for us. We did not underestimate the amount of work we would have to do in the least! It's fortunate for us that we both really do enjoy manual labor of the outdoor sort.

Now it's just about that time to turn our full attention inside. We removed the last of the wallpaper in the house last weekend! Our bedroom just got a final coat of paint and we're about ready to break down a wall between our kitchen and living room... Wish us luck!

I have to say we are so very blessed to have these two boys who work right along side us. They just go with it all, soaking up all the new information and skills along the way. My life has become so much fuller of their interests and routines lately. I manage to grasp at moments to sit and knit or to paint, but right now I'm trying to resist the urge to be pulled in a thousand creative directions...there's always way more to accomplish than I could ever hope to accomplish in a lifetime, so I have to content myself with what I can do each day. A painting a week perhaps. A new hat for each boy before the cold dips way down. An afternoon of melting down old crayons into fun shaped molds...these are the things I'm finding time for these days.

I hope you are finding ways to keep your families at the center of life.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

I'm up to some sneaky painting around here again. I am hesitant to do much promoting these days, but I will try to update and add paintings here as they become available. To see any of these pieces, all of which are available as I write this post, go ahead and click over to my shop.

Since my last post, long long ago now, we have had some significant changes around here. First of all, I am painting from a new location! That's right, we moved. We actually bought our first home, and it's been its own sort of journey. I love passing by my windows and stopping to look out over our little bit of earth. The garden went in early last spring, but was too shaded to be very productive. We took down a couple of trees to make way for the sun, so next year is already shaping up to be better! Those last hanging tomatoes are now actually ripening on the vine for us! We have taken down bushes, dug whole flower beds that were inconveniently located, seeded new bits of lawn, hung the tire swing, and begun to gather stones for the upcoming rock wall for the front yard... It's been beyond busy. And, that's just the outside. Perhaps I'll share some pics sometime...

So, I am working from a fabulous little studio here at home with my family always around me. I have found some new inspirations. I'm glad to be back.

Friday, April 27, 2012

recent commissions and farewell

I've been strictly working on commissions of late. This comes at a time when I am in deep transition here in my family. About a month ago I made a pivotal decision to take time away from painting pieces to sell. This year began with a great deal of ambition to do more with my sales. I set some optomistic goals about profits, exhibitions, newsletters, and marketing. All of that was going really well, in fact it was going too well. I found myself getting busier and busier with listing new pieces, advertising on my blog and many other places, packaging and shipping, buying up new materials, sketching out new ideas, and painting in a frenzy to keep my shop stocked with more than 5 or 6 paintings at a time. I was having a hard time keeping up to be honest. This was a very good thing, but it was having a negative effect on my family, my boys. I began to realize that if I became any more successful in my pursuits then I would have a full time job in addition to my full time job as a mother. This all got me thinking quite intently about my next move.

Now, if I had still been thoroughly relishing each moment at the easel, or each 5:00 a.m. wake up time to keep my easel time during the pre-dawn hours, then I might have decided to keep trying, but even with those one or two early morning hours to myself I found that it wasn't enough time to keep up with packaging and shipping and all else I had to do to get my paintings out into the world. I was enjoying painting, and I feel that the point I'm at with my art is right where I want to be at this moment. I've only been painting for about 6 years and I'm only now beginning to feel that the brush is an extension of me in a way. I feel comfortable with my painting sessions now. They are natural. This was all difficult for me to consider as I thought of putting my brushes down for a while. But I also realized that I wasn't enjoying it all as much as I should have been. I was wishing that I could be more attentive to the boys, including them more in my interests. I couldn't quite figure out how to get them involved without making more work for myself, and I found that they were getting neglected in the little things more and more. This just didn't feel good to me. I felt I was missing the whole point.

So, with much thought, journal writing, reflection, discussion with Peter, and prayer I made the decision to pack up my studio (all but the bare necessities for hobby painting), and to transform that space into a reading/play corner for the boys. It felt good to make that decision. As I sat in my knitting chair in the living room and looked across to the big wall opposite I looked closely at the unfinished painting above our sofa. It's 2' x 4' and is a simple low horizon landscape piece with one of my usual steel grey skies, filled with luminous light from the right side. The golden yellow and pale green landscape has distant olive green trees rising up at the crest of the undulating hill on the horizon. There is even a silvery stream running across from the top of the hill, meandering through like a little lost ribbon. It's very simple, but still unfinished. As I looked at it I thought, I won't finish it. It will stand as a testament of my decision to stop painting for my boys. It felt good. I breathed in deeply and let it all settle in. I had to put some of my pieces away, the ones that I felt a sort of affection for. If I looked too long at them I would grieve a bit.

I only had two commissions to work on at that point, and once those were done I was going to put it all away. Well, I was asked to do two more commissions just as I was getting near to finishing the first two. Now, as I'm finishing up those two I have received four more requests. I haven't typically had so many commissions all at once in the past, so it does feel a bit ironic that they are arriving just at this time. I feel now, though, that I must stick with my decision. So, I have one more piece to work on and then it's into hibernation I go. I did this when Sam, my oldest, was born, and when I emerged from that hibernation I was struck with a creative intensity that I had never known before. This could be just what I need to jumpstart my style to a new place anyway! I don't really look at it from that angle though. I feel it will be an opportunity to focus with greater passion and love on my two beautiful boys. I have big plans for us all.

I know without a doubt that my chance to be a mother is a gift. My boys are a gift to me. I also know that developing my talents and maintaining them are very important aspects of mothering and teaching my boys to do the same. I will still paint. I'm just not pursuing it from a business standpoint for now. I firmly believe that no other success can compensate for failure in my home. This is what I need to do to stay on that course of success for my family. So, I will be saying goodbye to this space, this blog, for the time being. One day I think I'll be back here, but for now I just want to say thank you for all your support. I am grateful to you all for your words of encouragment and compliments. They have meant a lot to me and have helped me to keep pressing forward. I hope you'll understand and perhaps even come back from time to time to see if I've checked back in again! I will be leaving my Etsy shop open as I sell through the remaining pieces available there. Stop in if you are interested to see what's left!

Success to all of you!!