Friday, September 30, 2011

Kitten "Madame" - Boy or Girl?

I am so embarassed to admit that we may have made a mistake on the sex of our new kitten, Madame. I was so sure she was a female, but in my defense, she is a longhaired kitten and the naughty bits are not so easy to view. Recently my husband has said that he thinks she is developing into a boy. I checked again and I see what he means, but she still looks not so boyish, compared to her brother. So, I am taking both kittens to the vet next week for their rabies shots and we will let the vet decide, boy or girl. If a boy, Monet will be the new name.

Miniatures Show Opens and No Wildlife Today

Well, no wildlife between me and my car this morning. I was on time for opening the gallery.
We had a Private Collectors Preview last night at the gallery and the evening was crisp air, lots of champagne and delicious tidbits to eat and of course, glorious miniature artworks.
Our opening reception for the general public and artists is on Sunday, from 3:00 until 6:00. All are welcome.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Sea of Bears

QUESTION: What has four mouths and 16 feet? ANSWER: A momma bear and her three cubs.
Imagine my surprise this morning at around 6:00 am, as I walked out my backdoor and walked three feet over to my backporch steps and there at the bottom of the steps was a Momma Black Bear and her three cubs all eating my garbage. Now I know you are thinking, cute little cubs, but these guys were two year old cubs about the size of Rottweilers. They all looked up in surprise at me as I shrieked OMG and made a hasty retreat to the house. As I tried to shut the kitchen door, a cat toy got lodged between the door and doorjam (just like the Keystone Cops) and I could not get the door closed, all the while thinking that momma bears are very protective and will attack if they feel their cubs are in danger. I finally got the door shut in time for my sleepy husband to come to my aid, not knowing what in the world was going on. Ok, I know what you are thinking......the big bad snake lady is a sissy after all. No time for the camera today, but it is now charged and ready for action in case they come back in the morning for the other bag of trash. Poor husband.....what a mess to clean up today.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Snakes that Play Dead

I caught my two feral cats in the yard poking at this dead snake. So I scooped it up in a net and placed it in a jar for the husband to identify when he got home. I knew it was not a typical black snake, the tail did not taper down to a thin point and his head looked odd somehow. Sure enough, the husband believes it to be a Hog Nosed Snake and he recalls reading that they will roll over and act dead as a defense tactic. Image how surprised I was when he started moving around in the jar. To test the theory, we poked at him and sure enough he did a death roll and played dead for about 15 minutes. You will notice his nose points upward in the one photo. Look at the exaggerated open mouth with the tongue sticking out. Also, no fangs or teeth. I have never been afraid of snakes and won't kill one if it is non poisonous, so we drove him to a remote area away from my house and released him. He looked very similar to the pond snake we had last year, thus in case we are wrong about his type, did not want him in my pond eating my fish.

Oh! We are hanging the miniatures show over the next two days. The private collectors preview (invitation only) is Thursday, the show opens on Friday and the artist's reception is on Sunday. Don't expect any blogging til next week end.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Miniatures Judging Today & Amazon Painting

I spent the entire day today handling the 3rd Annual Miniatures Show judging process with Guest Judge, Marilyn Milici. It is very interesting to watch and listen to the Judge's thoughts. Good friend Jeanne Mitchell acted as the judge's assistant, recording the winner information and presentation of artworks, while I was busy preparing a judge's luncheon. It's a two hour drive out here from Alexandria and the Judge gets VIP treatment from Ice House Gallery. I did not get any painting time today, but the Amazon Warrior background is getting very close to finished. I made great progress on it the other day at the gallery studio.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Final Reenactor Boy

I always put a finished piece above the fireplace on the mantel for a few days just so I can glance at it when I am not really thinking about it. This really helps me to find flaws. Guess what? I found one on the Reenactor Boy. If you check back at the older blog postings and the photos of this piece, you will notice that his black hat is the same value as the background trees on the house side of his head. I spotted this while watching TV and catching up my reading one evening. This is just the sort of thing we don't see even if we are searching for errors, but will jump out at you when your mind is on something else. So I have lightened the background trees on that side of the hat by about three values. His hat now reads as a black hat and not a continuous blob of dark value. At the same time, my husband suggested I add a powder horn, which a hunter would have had with him if he were carrying a black powder rifle. I now call this piece complete. I have already received an offer for it, but am thinking I would like to hang onto it and try to license the image or get it into prints.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Miniatures Show Crush Time

Well, the mini show is in full swing...judging was supposed to happen this past Tuesday and was delayed until this coming Tuesday for a few reasons. I hope the miniature artists waiting to receive word of acceptance won't be too upset. I have had a number of health issues as well as a family loss. And then there was a misprint in one prospectus, (we don't think any of these actually went out, but I wanted to allow a little more time to be fair to all artists. ) I had fortunately scheduled things so that there is always a plan B and lots of time to reschedule all parts of the show. We are looking at having 75 artists exhibiting this year. If the economy picks up and sales are higher this year, I will add a new prize catagory for next year's show.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Background Begins

I have begun the background for the Amazon Warrior painting, laying in the color scheme and value design I have in my mind. My goal is that the warrior is surrounded by dark color values to lead your eye to the warrior and make her the important part of the painting. The doorway is based on some photos I took of the Sterns Steeple in Amherst Mass, when I attended the Illustration Master Class this past June. I loved the old buildings up there on the college campus and took tons of reference photos. I had no idea I would use them so soon. Oh, I am already not liking the snake.....I think it may become a dragon.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Kittens Travel to Studio

The two little kittens now have official names....the boy is Rockwell (in honor of Norman Rockwell, my absolute favorite artist of all) and the girl is Madame X after the infamous painting by John Singer Sargent. It's weird, but she looks like Madame X, all in black velvet and very elegant and thin looking. They travel to the gallery/studio with me each day and are pretty well behaved, but I am not getting anything done for all the visitors stopping in to see the kittens. So, I left them at home today so I could get a background going on my Amazon Warrior painting. I will post a photo of that tomorrow evening.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Happy Accidents and Artistic Genius

Well, I got the original drawing copied at Staples, placed a good layer of Matt Gel Medium onto the masonite board, picked up the soaked copy and laid it down on the masonite and OMG, my masonite was a good two inches larger than the drawing. I had asked my husband to cut my boards months ago and forgot he did two sizes for me. Fortunately, I am great at spontaneous solutions. The copy paper was much larger than the image, so that I could wrap the ends over and adhere them to the back of the board. And I fortunately had laid the drawing on from the bottom end first which left all the added blank area at the top of the drawing. So........Genius that I am, I let it dry and continued my drawing to the top half of the board and paper. So now, almost the entire arched doorway is visible and I have left lots of open space for a title and such, if this were to become a book cover. I wish that I could have said this was all planned, but it was one of those happy accidents. My husband commented that it is a MUCH better composition now. Ouch, that hurt!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Amazon Warrior Drawing

Once again Jennifer has modeled for me and she is terrific. Even brought her own sword and dagger for the occasion. Originally I thought about putting in a cyclops for her to kill, but he looked goofy. So I erased him and added the snake. Pretty generic looking snake, I hope to elaborate on him when I get into the oil painting.

Off now to Staples and have the drawing reproduced on what I am told is Bond paper. I don't believe the clerk or manager understood what I was asking. I will ask the paper type again today if I get a different clerk or manager.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Song Mountain Fine Art

Check out the website of Ellen Strope.....Song Mountain Fine Art. Ellen and I correspond occasionally about our mutual interest in the Black Bear, cats, dogs and just about all critters. Ellen feeds Wee Otis and I feed Barney. Actually, Barney helps himself to my birdfeeders and pear tree. But I do love watching him. Anyway, Ellen is a fantastic wildlife artist. You can really see her love of subject in her artwork. OH, Ellen said it was 32 degrees at her home this morning. Burrrrrrr!

Earthquake and Conan Updates

We sustained some minor damage to our brick home as a result of the earthquake.....a long crack in the mortar that runs from my studio window to the roofline.

Also, Conan has returned to our back deck for regular meals again. Trap and release is a great way to reduce populations of feral cats in a humane way. It cost me nothing but some time and a little kitty kibble. You can see from the photo, he is a redhead and looks very much the barbarian.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Rockwell's Little Sister

OK, a week after Rockwell showed up, his little sister was trapped in the Hav A Heart Trap, instead of the orange cat. She was much more starved than Rockwell and wilder. She is taming down nicely though. So, she needs a name also.

I have no ideas, don't have any favorite female artists, except maybe Cecilia Beaux or Berthe Morisot. Obviously neither name thrills the tongue. Please send your ideas to and help give her a name. I put up posters everywhere, trying to find homes for the kids. When I asked my son, How many cats before I become the crazy cat lady? He replied, "Two less than you already have". OMG We finally trapped the orange cat, neutered and released him through our local volunteer vets program. He disappeared for three days and finally showed up this morning for a meal, still feral. We named him Conan the Barbarian. Conan won't come near me now.