Sunday, June 21, 2015

An New Adventure 2015 Bowser's Emporium Unlimited

Texas Longhorn on old wood
It has been a year since my last post. There have been ups and there have been some downs, insanely busy days, and a great deal of uncertainty. The blog was started to get out of my comfort zone and have a little fun with the pet portraits. I probably bit off too much when I tried to blog once a week. Being a full-time art instructor in a very small and tightly knit rural community keeps me busy physically, intellectually, and most of all, emotionally. This is a job I love. So, I find at this stage in my life, there are new venues to  explore while still maintaining the pace of a K-12 Art teacher. 
In an effort to find new avenues for my self-expression I have started Bowser's Emporium Unlimited. It will be a place to showcase some fun projects that Jerry and I work on together. Some pieces are things we have collected in the past 15 years, some were my mother's things, and a few are even found pieces--discarded by uncaring or unimaginative owners. One of my favorite things to do is make something out of nothing--or a least see if I can.
A collection of country farm items
Charming little secretary

I will write more about our little adventure later and add lots of pictures as we move along painting, gluing, sanding, and trying to figure out if one piece or another is worth saving--while many are, there are a few that are not! 
There will still be pet portraits as you can see in some of the above pictures. Blogging will probably be every two weeks or even once a month if I am busy sanding and painting. I have branched out into painting vintage trade signs--watch for those too. I am having a great summer--following my dreams! I suggest it for everyone!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Painting Event

Summertime Painting Event
Willmore Lodge at Lake of the Ozarks is a cherished landmark built as a retreat for Union Electric executives as the Lake of the Ozarks was nearing completion in the 1930's. Its rustic appearance compliments the area and looks very natural setting on the hillside point of the lake. It has been well maintained and is now the area Chamber of Commerce. There is a small museum illustrated with memorabilia from the construction days of the dam. The view is inspiring...
Last Thursday the Lake Arts Council sponsored a painting event where four local artist came together for a couple of hours of painting while visiting with people.
Steve Hurley, Lynn Phariss, Bob Silverson, and myself set up our easels and worked on a painting as the guests looked on, made comments, and asked questions. We are a diverse group of artists--some working oil and some in acrylics. Some of us do portraits while some do landscapes, and some do more abstract paintings. But they all seemed interesting to the guest that evening. Many people visited the event and many gave great reviews on being allowed to watch the creative process. It was a good event for us--an opportunity to share some of the ways different artists go about creating a painting.
My painting is a commissioned portrait of a rescue dog (people who have rescue dogs seem to love having their pet's portrait painted). I started with a gessoed panel primed in black. I really like painting on surfaces primed in black. Before I set up at the Lodge I drew the image on with a white colored pencil. I have two hours to paint--and talk. My fellow artists set up their easels and squeezed paint. Here are some pictures of everyone with their paintings. Some were close to finishing and others--myself included-- were about half completed. The audience was very interested in the process each of us went through to get our paintings going. They asked many questions.

Here is my painting of Marzipan about 3/4 finished. She is a lucky dog who winters in Key West, Florida and summers at Lake of the Ozarks. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Eureka Springs

Summertime--Ah Summertime! This has been a wonderful summer. However, in all honestly I thought I would be further along on my "to do" list. All those projects I intentionally put off until I have more time, do not seem to be getting crossed off that long, long list. Sometimes I even add more before crossing off anything. And then there are the everyday things that have to be done. The garden is needy, the house is needy, my spirit is needy, and the dog is extremely needy as are the ticks and fleas that think she is a delightful summer home.
I seem to constantly bite off more than I can chew and I have recently realized I chew a lot slower than I used to.
My grandchildren are a delight--but I need more time there.
My children are wonderful--I need more time with them.
My traveling spirit is ready to go--I need to plan a trip to use those flying miles.
My anticipation for next school year has me looking for new projects--I need more time to look.
My time spent once in a while watching a Dr. Oz show makes me want to treat myself better--I need a plan.
My friends are important to me--I need face time not face book to keep in touch.
And lastly and very importantly--I need to nourish my creative self and get some painting done. For I get very cranky when I don't.
I guess what happens is during the year I know I can't finish a lot of projects so they slide and I only concentrate on the things on the top of the priority list. The things at the bottom continually being moved down.
I did not blog last week--I was on a short trip with friends--much needed and too short.
This is Hank--one of the friendly hosts of Scandia B&B
Eureka Springs Arkansas is an enchanting little place carved out of the mountain side in northern Arkansas. In the late 19th century it was a mecca for people who sought medical healing from the natural springs that dotted the landscape. There are beautiful gingerbread houses and charming shops, as well as, delightful restaurants. The approach to the downtown area has several well tended gardens. There are friendly Bed and Breakfasts to stay in and friendly people to visit with along the streets.
Outside of town are many hiking trails, lakes and rivers to explore.
Where ever I go I always make time for sweet natured pets--like Hank!
So you can see why I couldn't get to the computer to blog. But here are some photos I would like to share.                                 Who knows maybe I will paint a watercolor inspired by one or two of them!!
Stop be next week and check on my progress.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Old House Portraits

It is not often you think of a house having it's portrait painted. But houses speak to me, as do graveyards, and rocks settled in the bottom of a clear-running stream. If you look hard enough and long enough or if you are innately open to such opportunities, many houses have very distinct personalities. Whenever I pass an old house, particularly in the countryside, I always consider what kind of stories it could tell if it had a loud voice and how easy it would be to hear them. And some old houses do have a loud voice by means of a caring individual or group  devoting time, research, and no doubt a great deal of money to make sure the stories are not lost.  They are wonderful places to visit.
But the old houses that have lost their owners, that sit sadly in an overgrown meadow, that slump within a grove of old magnolia trees at the end of a weedy lane--those are the ones that call to me and whisper their stories into my ears and my imagination.
In my youth I went into old houses undeterred by weak floors or falling ceilings. In Kentucky, outside of Bowling Green (where I was a college student in the 70's), there was one such old house, built during the Civil War, in terrible neglect. It was an old beauty made of durable red brick but only part of the upper floor was intact and much of the ceiling caved in. But there was a cupola, on what was the third floor, and I wanted to see the countryside from that window. So myself and a couple of other students carefully picked our way up to that window. You could tell the house was truly loved at one time--there was evidence of good taste everywhere. The curved banister that lead to that upper window was still shiny and looked as though it was polished only moments before. The view from that third story window was brilliant. It was there I could hear the army camped in the fields next to the house. The men and horses, the rolling of the artillery, and smell the camp fires in the center of the laid out military style streets, were all as real as if I had looked out of that window a hundred and six years before. Today I would not be so headstrong and careless. I have a little more respect for private property and  a great deal more respect for weak floors and caved in ceilings.
Years later I went back to that old house. A group of caring individuals had found the time, the money, and the inclination to save a beautiful anti-bellum mansion. And as the tour guide talked about the times before, during, and after the war, and about the  families who had lived there, I already knew the stories. They were tales of children being born in upper story bedrooms--some surviving but many who filled the graveyard next to the house. Some stories were of the old ones departing this world and being "laid out" in the parlor. There were Easter egg hunts and Christmas dinners. There were many nights when storms were on the verge of taking life and limb. There were tragedies of lost children and blessed events such as weddings and christenings. It is difficult sometimes to imagine that so much happened in one specific space-- and now  is so gone
My grandfather died in the house he was born in--a house his father built and died in. A house my father was born in--along with his six brothers and sisters. The house I spent so much time visiting.  The house, yard, garden, and barns are all gone. I wanted to show my children their heritage but could not even find the location because of the new highway. Finally I recognized the power lines. The ones my grandfather sold the easement to back in the 1950's. I knew where the house and yard had been in relationship to those power lines.
So much family history, so many birthings and Easter egg hunts--so much everyday living--like it wasn't even there. My heart was broken.
Some stories are of people who had money--who exemplified their values by the possessions they cherished. Some of the stories are of immigrants who left their homelands for a chance at something better, and still others are stories of individuals who barely eked out a living on hard soil and even harder luck. I love all the stories...
Here is a photograph of a cabin from the hills of Missouri.
And here is my watercolor painting of the cabin.

Daniel Boone's home near Defiance Missouri is a great favorite of mine. Obviously one of those structures that has received a great deal of love and attention. This is a watercolor done for a lady who felt the same way I did.
And then here is an old one that is dying for want of a roof and someone to cut the overgrown foliage away from her joints and window sills. I have many, many photos of old houses I have taken over the years--maybe I will write down some of the whispers they have shared with me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

To Reinvent or not to Reinvent

Last week there was no post as I was off in the woods contemplating the growth of moss on the north side of large trees and thinking about my next piece of artwork.
That is not true--last week I was more in the fits of a mild depression. My birthday was fast approaching and I could garner no sense of accomplishment in my world. My grandson was heading off to school and I was wondering where the last five years had gone and why I had not done more in that period of time. Clutter overwhelms me and "dirty eating" plus a  feeling of inertia slowed me to a turtles gait and left me slouched in a lawn chair--hoping at least to get a suntan.
Since I was a young child  I have reveled in the opportunities to reinvent myself periodically. When I was little it was to be a nun (I am not catholic) and another time it was Robin Hood. As I grew up some of my reinventions became slightly more realistic.  From a war protester to a wife and mother. From a stay-at-home mom to a college student to a school teacher. So once again and with the inspiration of former lives I drag out my "clean eating" cookbooks, books of spiritual guidance, an exercise chart, my most recent "O" magazine, sunscreen and sunglasses, a refreshing herbal tea with a sprig of mint from my herb garden, my journal, a psychedelic pen, and  I began to write. I have some art events coming up so I used these to cultivate a sense of empowerment. Someone said once that you need to have just about all of your basic needs met before you can engage in creativity. Unless of course in the case of creatively dealing with survival. At a time when not all of my needs were being met my creativity turned to the darker side--but I won't go into that here. I have learned the procedure for my timely reinvention of habits.
I designed a meal plan that utilizes fresh produce from the beautiful garden in my backyard(something during  the stage my bad habits I ignore and choose instead the frozen pizza). No more sugar and processed foods, more veggies, and less meat. The exercise chart is to be filled in daily and the repetitions increased as time passes. But most of all and this is different from previous sojourns into healthy living--being in the Zen of the moment. Summertime is a great opportunity to slow down and think about taking care of myself. When I lose sight of that I suffer and then the things around me suffer. It is a very significant cause and effect system.  From reading articles in "O" magazine I think about my financial plan and my health insurance. There are articles on how to declutter--I have another plan in place. I see some cute dresses I may have to order. From my books by Deepka Chopra I remember what is truly important in life and how to take the time to search for and listen to that still small voice. Did I mention the unbelievable sunglasses in the magazine too! I write in my journal--something when I get too busy I forget to do. And as time passes I am really sorry I didn't do. The mint rosemary tea is reinvention in a glass!
The better I take care of myself, the better I am at doing just about anything and everything that is important to me. When I am healthy my art is healthy. Everyday I get better my art gets better and that is what keeps "mild fits of depression at bay" and reinvention so compelling! 
If I sit down with no immediate agenda for a painting (this is not including the hours of mental searching and decision-making) I find I treat the canvas and the paints with an attitude bordering on carelessness. I choose colors for silly reasons and I let the brushes play with the thickness of the oil, pigment, and turpentine to fashion strokes with a certain "mooshyness" to them.
This carelessness evolves into better paintings on many occasions. Here is one such....a gift for my grandson's first day of school.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Charly Painting

Such sadness in Moore Oklahoma. One of the photos that really stands out in my mind is of a  woman sitting on the driveway holding her cat. The animal was wrapped in a blanket and the house was gone--gone except for a pile of rubble, and what I would assume was her car sitting on top of it. I have never felt that kind of paralysis due to a storm but I have come close a couple of times. Where do you begin? I guess the journey of a thousand miles that begins with one step really rings true. You pick up one item then another, then another.
I don't know what it says about me but I can watch movies or TV shows where people get killed and I am fairly unaffected but when I see an animal hurt or abused it is heart-wrenching and unbearable. Perhaps I have been desensitized to human pain but certainly not to animal pain.
The storm was terrible in Oklahoma, and not a couple of weeks before, my town of Granbury Texas was hit and partially destroyed. I don't live there anymore but my family is there and many memories of a beautiful little historic town.
It is tornado season and we all live in constant concern if not fear as the sky darkens and the wind blows. When the sirens fill the air with noise we think--we have been lucky so far.
I am thankful school is out for the summer--at least I don't have to worry about where to take the students--in order to save lives.

Last week I posted early pictures of a painting I am doing for a writing project.
I posted a photo of the first drawing on the board and a second photo of the first stages of applying color. Here is the  "pretty much finished" painting (because nothing is ever really finished). I decided to do a monochromatic color scheme and to leave the background obscure.
As I was working on the portrait of Charly I couldn't help thinking about all those lost animals in Oklahoma and Texas. Charly is well loved and well taken care of as a result of two people who were not intimidated by the bad rap pit bulls get from the media. Charly is loving and playful and a great companion.
He also has a great variety of expressions and moods--just enough to keep him a never-ending surprise.
I hope the painting is a good portrait for aspiring writers and helps them to find a self-expressing voice. I am looking for my next subject--maybe something playful or mysterious.

A small check is on it's way to Oklahoma to help take care of those homeless pets that have lost their owners. If you care to join me here is the address
Central Oklahoma Humane Society
9300 N. May Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mountains of New Mexico

School is about to end for this year and summer is three steps down the path. Cold weather has been lingering and over stayed its welcome. Spring  was here for a few days--long enough for the lilac, forsythia, and purple irises to all bloom gloriously--drop their blossoms and turn all green. And now it is hot. Humidity is 96% and the air so full of moisture you could wring it out like my grandmother's dishcloth.
The portrait of Charly is coming along nicely. I will not post a picture of it here because it is in it's "ugly" stage and very shy. I will post one next week regardless of it's condition--it will have to get over being shy. The portrait of Charly is the first in a small series I am doing in conjunctions with a group of writers. In July we will team up to show case visual arts and writing using some of my pet portraits as inspiration. I am trying to put together a group of paintings of especially ambiguous yet emotional animals that will invoke the writers imagination. Charly and I and the other 5 canvases are very excited.
There is a painting I would like to post. This is a painting done a few years ago in Red River New Mexico. We were staying at my sister's little cabin in the mountains above the town way up a gravel road. We were driving a Honda Insight (hybrid) which is very close to the ground. Not wanting to travel the gravel road overmuch we decided to walk to town. This was a jaunt of a little over a mile.--both ways. The walk was grand, the weather cool and fresh. There was a wonder at every turn in the road. But on one particular turn I took the time to tie my often untied boots when I saw this little stucture. I call it a structure because I didn't know exactly what it was--a cabin, a well-house, an old mining shed (ok that one is pretty far fetched, wrought from too many John Wayne movies as a child). But whatever it was I felt intriged and mystified. It sat all alone in a small openning in the woods--abandoned. Or was it? My imagination was running away with me but my upbringing told me it was private and to leave it that way. So I did--but I painted it, hoping to capture a little bit of it's charm and mystery.
I really never know if the things I end up painting are as special as I see them or if I tend to imbue some personal estimation into people, places, and pets.