Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A colorful little bird

Have you ever heard of a Cuban Tody?  I hadn't up until last week.  I saw one in a magazine and at first I didn't think it was even a real bird.    It has these crazy hot pink spots on its wings that look as if someone took a spray paint can to it, besides the pink it also has red, light blue and lime green feathers.   Its head is kind of big for its body and it has a thin pointed bill.  I love it!

Here's my mini version (4" x 4"):

cuban tody

 I hope everyone had a Happy Holiday, I know we did! 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Around here

Trying to get into the holiday spirit here.  We went and got our Christmas tree last weekend and it was 50 degrees!   


Fischer was in charge of cutting it down this year.



I did my first holiday faire last weekend.  I did okay.  It's a pretty small fair and they like to have mood lighting in the rooms which might not benefit my work very well.  I find I have much more fun at this fair when I'm with the kids and we can go do crafts, listen to music and wonder around and socialize.  But it's always good to get some exposure for my work.



Wednesday, November 28, 2012

This week

This week I've been busy getting ready for the Holiday Faire at Pleasant Ridge Waldorf School here in town.  It is a really beautiful event.  Friday night is adults only and then Saturday is for the entire family. They actually have chestnuts roasting on an open fire outside the school!  The school is decorated very festive and cheerful, they have live music, an organic lunch, kids crafts and activities, along with wonderful holiday shopping from local vendors. Usually I'm just an attendee, but this year I thought I would be a vendor, hopefully I will have some time to do a little Christmas shopping.

Back in July when it was about 98 degrees, I was working on some Christmas paintings.  Fischer was wondering why in the world I was working on Christmas paintings in the middle of summer.  I told him that it made me feel cooler!  Here is one of my favorite pieces that I did.  It is similar to my painting called "Our Town",  this one is titled "Winter in Our Town"  

winter in our town
available here

This piece makes me dream about a warm and cozy fire after a wonderful day of snowboarding or skiing or any kind of winter fun.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Doing the turkey tiptoe!

Amelia has been listening to her Dan Zanes and Friends:  House Party  CD  a lot lately, like 2-3 times a day, lucky for me it's a really great children's CD.  One of our favorite songs on there is "Tennessee Wig Walk" which is a remake of Bonnie Lou's 1953 version.  If you've never heard this song you can listen to a snippet here.  It is a very cheery and fun song.  Amelia will stop what she's doing when this song comes on just so she can dance!  This afternoon I was busy drawing turkeys while we had this CD on  and I was wondering how I should draw the turkeys.  I thought it might look kind of funny if they looked like they were tiptoeing away so they wouldn't get eaten on Thanksgiving.  After I finished the drawing I  kept looking at it and it didn't quite look like they were tiptoeing and as I kept looking, "Tennessee Wig Walk"  was playing in my head( as it has been for the past few weeks),

I'm a bow-legged chicken, I'm a knock-kneed hen
Never been so happy since I don't know when
I walk with a wiggle and a giggle and a squawk
Doin' the Tennessee Wig-walk.
To a tune on a fiddle on a
hardwood floor
Tho' I'm broke and I'm weary and my back is sore
I walk with a wiggle and a giggle and a squawk
Doin' the Tennessee Wigwalk.
Put your toes together, your knees apart
Bend your back, get ready to start
Flap your elbows, just for luck
Then you wiggle and you waddle like a baby duck.  
Dance with me honey, tap your toes and glide
And we'll always be together side by side
Walk with a wiggle and a giggle and a squawk
Doin' the Tennessee Wigwalk.
Repeat all above.
Walk with a wiggle, wiggle with a walk
And you're doin' the Tennessee Wigwalk
Doin' the Tennessee Wigwalk [fade]
Doin' the Tennesse Wigwalk

I then realized that my turkeys looked more like they were dancing, like they were "doin' the turkey tiptoe" (of course sung to "Tennessee Wigwalk")!

turkey tiptoe

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!
(don't forget to walk with a wiggle and a giggle and a squawk)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Peppermint and Pine

Just a little holiday happiness to share with you.

peppermint and pine watermark

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Looking around





Friday, November 16, 2012

The hunter and the hunted

Opening day for deer hunting tomorrow and its a big deal in these here parts!  (not so much in our household thank goodness)  Here's a quick little drawing I did this morning as I was waiting for everyone to wake up and was thinking about our modern day hunting culture. 

the hunter and hunted
 Have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A little reminder

One of the first things I noticed when moving back to Wisconsin from Idaho was all the different birds that you hear, even in winter.  The bird that stuck out the most for me was the blue jay.  Blue jays are really quite noisy, but can make quite a variety of different sounds that are pretty cool to listen to.  Blue jays tend to get a bad rap because of their bold and aggressive behavior, but they are really a beautiful bird.  Once in awhile we find  blue jay feathers in our yard or out on a walk and I'm always amazed at the beauty of it with  the different shades of iridescent blues, with black stripes and tips of white.  I think one of the main reasons too that I like blue jays is that they remind me of my grandma.  I didn't know this until I moved back and heard them.  It immediately reminded me of my grandma and especially fishing with her.  It's amazing how as a kid I didn't even notice this, but somehow it was got stored subconsciously in my memory.  I love how our senses are so in tune with our surroundings and can trigger long lost memories.

So I guess you could say I painted this one for my grandma!

available here

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Looking around



ps.  Amelia finally got to enjoy a birthday cupcake two days after her birthday.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Rain check please

Amelia's 5th birthday was yesterday and this is where she spent most of the day,

on the couch.

She woke up yesterday morning with the stomach flu.  It doesn't seem right that she was sick on her birthday, so I think she deserves a rain check.  

These are such sad birthday pictures.


There was a glimmer of  happiness when she opened her birthday presents, but it didn't last long.  She didn't  get to eat a cupcake on her birthday, and she was just too sick to even care.  


Luckily we gave her an early birthday present on Sunday, a new little kitten which she named Biscuit.
I think this is going to be one spoiled kitten.  Amelia and Fischer have been fighting over who gets to hold the kitten.    In the picture above, Fischer tucked her in for her nap in a doll carrier with a small blanket. 

Amelia loves bags.  So I made her a little bag that looks like a house, which opens and closes with a nice hidden zipper so she can carry all sorts of important things such as fairies, little dolls, letters, pictures and whatever else a 5 year old likes to carry around.



Although she's feeling better today, there still has been a lot of lying around and kitty snuggling.

Friday, November 2, 2012


I've been busy updating my Etsy shop,  rewriting titles, changing tags and decreasing shipping costs all in hopes of bringing in more traffic to my shop.  I just can't seem to figure out Etsy.  My shop has been open for 2 years and I've had 10 sales.  Pretty sad isn't it?  Anyway, today I found an image that I thought was listed and wasn't.

I painted this one back in July or August.  It was one of the few paintings I did this summer.  Inspiration definitely went on summer vacation, somewhere far, far away I think.  (luckily she did return this fall feeling refreshed)

In the thistle
                                                                        "In the Thistle"  available here

 So while I didn't paint much this summer, and choosing not to fight with inspiration not being here, I chose instead to focus on getting back in shape and socializing.    I finally started going to our local bike shops (Blue Dog Cycle) women's ride, which got me totally hooked on mountain biking and loving it.  Every Wednesday we would bike and then go to the wine bar afterwards.  How awesome is that?  Besides biking I've finally gotten into a wonderful running groove.  I've always ran, but its been so hard to have any kind of exercise routine since having kids, but now that they are getting older its becoming a little bit easier.  (it still takes some will power though, like getting up at 5am today and heading out into the very cold darkness to get my run in before the kiddos get up for school)  So while it bothered me once and awhile that I had zero inspiration this summer, there was plenty of other fun things to do this summer to keep me occupied, cookouts, picnics, bonfires, late summer nights with the kids and neighbors.    For the most part I just accepted that I wasn't inspired  and knew it was for a reason and it would of course return and it did.

Have a wonderful weekend, I hope you find something fun or inspirational to do.   I've been busy sewing a little birthday present for Amelia and have also started some holiday crafting that I'll share next week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

A busy little saw whet owl

Wow, this painting is REALLY busy!  I knew there was a lot going on, but once I got it up on the screen here, it looks even busier.  I really struggled with this little guy.  The painting was originally going to have a chipmunk with a whole bunch of acorns and then I saw a picture of a cute little saw whet owl and he seemed to go better with the background I had started.  I've stayed away from owls because they are so popular, but this little guy lured me in.  His little body was done with torn pieces of coffee filters and I think it turned out really well.  It's everything else in the painting that bothers me.  I kept adding things and colors to the background in hopes of making him standout more, but it doesn't seem like that worked at all.  I think I need to put him away for awhile, because as I'm typing this, I'm feeling the urge to cut him out of this painting and start over, or completely painting over the background, or adding polka dots to his fine feathers.

saw whet

Here's a picture of a cute little saw whet owl, they're like the size of a robin.  Pretty darn cute aren't they?

While we are on the topic of owls, I thought I'd share a picture of Fischer's first ever hand carved stamp that he did last week.  I think he did an awesome job for a 7 year old!  He even put him on a little branch.  I'm very impressed.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Autumns's Last Leaves

Last week on my way back from my morning run, just as the sky was beginning to lighten, I saw two crows sitting in the very top of a large almost leafless maple tree.  Their outline was very striking against the pinkish orange morning sky.  One crow was facing east, the other west.  They were sitting there so quite,  it made me wonder what they were thinking on that beautiful autumn morning.  The image of those two crows stayed with me and I knew I had to paint my own version.

Autumn's last leaves
Autumn's Last Leaves

I struggled a bit with this one.  I started out painting it exactly like I saw it, but I always run into problems when I do that.  It felt boring, blah, and as if something were missing.  I then had to remind myself that I don't and shouldn't try to paint it just like I saw it.    When I try to paint more realistic, my paintings tend to tighten up and I'm never satisfied with the results.   I need to remind myself to loosen up and play with it.  
I'm still not sure if I'm finished with this piece yet.  I've been looking at it all week trying to figure out what it needs.  Yesterday I realized I hadn't put the leg on the crow.  It was amazing how a simple little bird leg made such a big difference!  I paint on watercolor paper and always start a piece by penciling the size of my painting on it.   Like this one is 11 x 14 on 12 x 16 paper.  So I end up with white around the edges that aren't part of the painting.  Usually I don't find this very distracting, but with this painting I did and after I cropped it off in Photoshop, I was really surprised  by how much more I liked it.    I think a little time away from it is needed, which thankfully the kids and I are going to my parents for the weekend.  We are going to go see "How to Train Your Dragon" on Saturday in Milwaukee with grandma and my nephews.   It's a live show with huge animated, flying, fire-breathing dragons!  How could we pass that up? 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Cheery Chipmunks

autumn 2

I keep seeing chipmunks running across the trails when I'm mountain biking.  They're so cute as they speed across with their tails held high, I even saw one in the pouring rain last weekend.  I knew I needed to do a painting with one of these (or 5) of these guys in it.  I didn't like the direction this painting was going and then I started adding the flowers and I still didn't like it.  It wasn't until I was finished with it and held it from a distance did I realize how cheerful it was and that I actually did like it.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Autumn

Some more fall goodness to share with you.  When I first started this piece, I had no intention of putting crows in it.   I knew I wanted pumpkins, leaves and acorns in it and later after the piece was finished I remembered that I had wanted to include the old fashioned corn stacks, such as the Amish do when they "shock" their corn.  But since I forgot all about the corn, the piece ended up with crows instead and I think it probably turned out for the better.

"Autumn"  available here
I'm having so much fun with my coffee and watercolor washes for the background.    The leaves were cut from recycled tea bags and everything else is made from recycled coffee filters.  We use the brown unbleached coffee filters for our coffee.   When you paint on them,  the colors aren't as bright   as if you were to use white ones, the colors tend to be darker which works very well for the fall palette.   With the leaves you can really see the difference between the shades of tea bags I used.  The darker ones like the oak leaves are from chai and the lighter ones are from herbal teas like lemon ginger.  Our family has been sick a lot lately with sore throats and runny noses so we've been drinking tons of tea, both bulk and in bags.  It seems my supply of tea bags is never ending which is really quite perfect for me! (not the sick family part of course!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

The weekend

Good morning.  I hope you had a wonderful weekend.   Ours was very rainy and  definitely  memorable.  I did my first ever mountain bike race yesterday with my husband.  This was the inaugural race for the Pertnear 20  (because its pertnear 20 miles!) which was put on by our local bike shop (and our neighbors), BlueDog Cycles.  This weekend we received somewhere between 2-4 inches of rain, I haven't heard the official report yet, but it was pouring rain at the start of the race and of course stopped just as we were about to finish.  Amazingly there were 45 riders that came out in this miserable weather.  The race was a combination of road and single track.  As soon as we hit the single track, the excitement began.  I wish I had some pictures to share.  It was so incredibly muddy out there!  Within minutes my legs were burning from biking through thick mud and leaves.  The going was slow and slippery and eventually my tires were locking up because they were  packed with mud.  So many of us had to keep stopping and removing huge piles of mud and leaves out of our chain, derailer, brakes, and frames.  A section of the trail which normally would take maybe 5-10 minutes took us at least a 1/2 hour.  There was a lot of walking and even pulling of my bike.  At the end of this section many of us put our bikes in the creek to wash off as much as we could before continuing on.  We ended up not doing the whole race because it was so ridiculously muddy, I was soaking wet and very cold, the wind was kicking up and there were sections that had a lot of rocks and very narrow trails that we figured wouldn't be very safe in those conditions.  So even though we didn't do the whole thing, we still ended up riding for 2 1/2 hours.  What an experience!  These are the times I'm so thankful to have a hot shower to come home to.  As Pete (who owns Bluedog) said in regards to this race,  "you will never have worse conditions than this, so it can only be better next year"  and then we all celebrated with beer and pizza.

Here's another fall piece I finished that really has nothing to do with my bike race.  I'm loving this fall palette of colors, I have 2 more pieces that are similar to this that are in the works after this one.  Even while riding our bikes with the pouring rain blowing in our faces, I couldn't help but to notice how beautiful all the leaves, trees and bushes were.  It's such an amazing time of year.  The colors are so vibrant and just seem to pop against the dark backgrounds.

autumn's silhouette
"Autumn's Silhouette"  available here

 ps.  it's a clear blue sunny day today without a leaf blowing!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Wee Witch

It's that time of year.  Do you have your costume ready yet?  (of course we don't!)  I wouldn't mind being a witch if I had a orange polka dot hat and dress to go with stripped leggings like this little witch has.

Sunday, October 7, 2012


Fall is in full swing here in Wisconsin.  As much as I haven't wanted fall to be here, I can't help but to be inspired by all the beautiful colors around me, bright yellows, oranges and crimson.  It has been stop in your tracks amazing here.  For awhile already, the birds have been behaving differently.  Gathering in groups in the trees and chattering about.  Perhaps they are discussing their winter plans! 
The black birds will all fly out of the trees in large flocks across the fall sky while the sunlight dances through the autumn leaves.   Lovely indeed. 

autumns flight
                                                                      "Autumn's Flight"  available here

This is one of my favorite pieces that I've done in awhile.  I love the contrast of the black birds against the background.  With this piece I started by painting the background with a coffee wash, watercolor, large oak and maple leaves drawn with watercolor pencil and coffee.  The "dancing" leaves were cut from painted coffee filters and tea bags and the birds were also cut from painted coffee filters.   I'm very happy with the results. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Well Hello there!

Is it really mid September?  I just can't believe it.  I'm just going to start writing here as if my last post wasn't over 2 months ago!

My Booth!

 I did my first ever art fair this weekend, the Driftless Area Art Festival, which was only 15 minutes from home.  I've been fretting about this all summer, but I felt when it finally did arrive that I was well prepared and this helped settle my nerves a bit. We had the most beautiful weekend and I  couldn't have asked for better weather.


I'm happy to say that I exceeded my expectations.  I was a ball of nerves most of the time, but so very happy that I did it.  The people were wonderful.  I didn't hear a single negative comment, which I was so afraid I would hear.  I received so much positive feedback that it really helped give my confidence a much needed boost.  So much of my support came from people that I know.  This community that I live in prides itself in supporting its locals, whether it's the farmers, restaurants, stores/shops, or its artists.  This weekend they really proved this.

I wish I had more pictures to share, but I was too darn nervous and couldn't concentrate on getting any good pictures.  I tried to sell a variety of things from magnets, note pads that I made out of misprints, note cards, various sizes of prints with or without mats and some framed originals.  Maybe I'll take a few pics of my magnets, notepads and  note cards and share them in another post.  They all seemed to go over very well.

My Booth

A great big thank you to everyone!  I really do appreciate it and all the kind words.  I had such a wonderful experience and am looking forward to my next one.  (I'm not sure when that will be, but there will be more!

My Booth

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Come and gone

                                                                     "Like a distant answer"  available here

Poppies, are one of my favorite flowers.  This painting I started I toward the end of May, well after they were done blooming.  They were just starting to bloom when I went out of town for 6 days and when I came back, they were already done. I've done a poppy painting the last several summers, so I thought I still needed to do one even though I barely had a chance to see them.  I have some Icelandic poppies that are blooming right now, but boy, they don't last long either. 

With this painting I knew I wanted to make the poppies out of painted tea bags and rip the paper for the petals, to give it that papery effect they have.   Right away the flowers looked like they needed something.  I decided to dip the edges of the petals in walnut ink and I really like the effect that had.  This worked so well, I did this for the leaves as well.  As for the background, I had no idea what I wanted to do.  It started out with a light watercolor wash, mostly aqua and orange, then I started to collage, but it just didn't feel right, so I started adding browns, this wasn't good either, along came green and then yellow and I was still not feeling it, I had thoughts of ditching the painting and starting over, but I stuck with it and I added some white and lime green.  This seemed to help a little but I still didn't like it, so in a last effort, I took a white wash over the entire background to tone it all down and I really liked the effect of that and felt that it finally made the painting come together.  I'm so tempted to add more to the poppies, like some white, but I think if I try that, it will ruin it.  I've decided to resist the urge and leave them alone. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dancing in the Rain!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Garlic scapes

Garlic scapes are the curling top of hardneck garlic plants.  As they grow they get really curly and then they need to be cut off so the plant can put all of its energy into the bulb instead of the flower.  They can be used in pesto, saute, dips, soups, in dips, pretty much how you would use garlic, just a little more mellow flavor.    With their unique curls and slender stems, I thought it would be fun to turn them into a little piece of art. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Lucky Day

I was picking strawberries this afternoon and I have clover popping up here and there.  Sometimes I pull it, sometimes I just leave it, but today I looked at a large patch and thought "I'm going to find a four leaf clover" and within 30 seconds I had myself a four leaf clover!  As I was looking at it to make sure it was indeed a four leaf clover I noticed that two of the leaves were still connected at the base, so they were not completely separate.  I wondered if this would still qualify as a four leaf clover or not?  I then thought to myself, "I'm going to find another four leaf clover and within 15 seconds I had myself another four leaf clover!  This time it was without a doubt a four leaf clover, and that it indeed had four separate leaves.  What are the chances of that?  I haven't found a four leaf clover since I was a kid.  I pull a lot of clover out of our garden and flower beds and will sometimes quickly look or just keep my eyes open for that extra leaf, but today I just knew I would find one.  How cool is that?  I love it.  

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

She's got talent!

While reading "The Artist's Magazine" I came across Ali Cavanaugh and was completely intrigued by her use of figures in her work.   She works with watercolor on a dampened clay surface in a modified version of fresco.  I would love to learn more about this technique.

artist painter painting ali cavanaugh

All of her figures are against a pure white background, many of them the face is hidden or turned away as if covering their face from a bright light.  Gestures and body language play an important part in the composition, while the arms are usually covered in brightly patterned socks.  It's interesting how she uses the light and will even have parts of the figure that are completely overexposed and therefore not even painted.

I love how expressive these paintings are even though in many of them you can't even see the face.  The bold colors and patterns add to the emotions,  I'm completely amazed that these are watercolors. 

 Very striking work.

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