Coffee Girls 4: Too Much Coffee

Again, she has no name. She’s a lovely person. People like her. She is however, addicted to coffee.

She starts her day with at least two cups in the morning. She has a cup mid-morning. She has one or more mid-afternoon. She supports many local coffee shops. Without coffee, she thinks she can’t function. She thinks she can’t get through her day without it. It keeps her awake and focused. She likes the feeling of being so productive! She gets things done!

Her family and friends try to get her to cut back on her consumption or at least switch to decaf, but she acts like they have just asked her to cut back on her breathing. She doesn’t see what they see. She’s wired. Wired from the caffeine in the coffee. She thinks she’s fine. It’s just coffee! She isn’t affected by the caffeine! She laughs at their concern. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.

She is oblivious to the signs of too much caffeine. She thinks she was born with an overactive bladder. She thinks her high blood pressure is hereditary. She thinks her nights of insomnia are part of getting older. Her head is stuck inside her favorite mug.

For her, coffee in it’s purest form, is her source of power. She will not unplug or even put in a dimmer switch regarding it. She’s fully wired and the switch is always set to ON.

Coffee Girls No. 3: Early Morning Coffee

This is number 3 in my Coffee Girls series. From necessity her day starts early. Too early for someone who likes being in her nice comfortable bed. Too early for someone who may not be a morning person. Too early for someone who may have stayed up way too late the night before either working, taking care of family, or having a good time.

She needs her coffee. She’s not necessarily a “coffee junkie”, but can’t get her eyes to fully open without it. No decaf for her. She needs it full throttle. When she drags herself out of bed, she often is half asleep through her shower as her body runs on autopilot. Her main thoughts? “Coffee… I need some coffee.” If you speak to her before the coffee takes effect, you will get mumbled responses. It’s better to leave her alone until her second cup for any meaningful interaction.

No fancy mugs for her. She grabs whatever is closest on the shelf. It’s all about the liquid. For this girl, coffee is the power source for her drained battery. Once the green light comes on, she will be ready to go.

Coffee Girls No. 2: Love My Coffee

This is the second in my Coffee Girls series. Once again, she has no name. You may recognize her in yourself or someone you know. She loves mornings because mornings mean…. coffee!! She probably does not have to rush off to work, or if she does work, she looks forward to the weekend when she can enjoy her favorite morning drink with no need to hurry.

Coffee is her favorite morning companion. With or without food. As soon as she smells the aroma, all her senses wake up and she’s almost instantly focused. On the coffee. She feels a deep connection to the drink in hand and her day rarely starts without a cup.

She collects mugs. She enjoys sipping coffee from mugs that reflect her fascination with the drink. She also has a favorite coffee that she brews. She is not adventurous in her choices. Once she finds one or two flavors/combinations that she likes… she stays with them. Her taste buds are loyal. For her, a morning without coffee would be… not happening. She is blissfully a coffeeholic.

Coffee Girls No. 1: The Coffee Break

Sometimes I just like to paint something different, something involving a face. For a long time, almost everything I painted or sketched involved a face or figure. Sometimes, realistic… mostly slightly off kilter. More fun that way.

So here is the first I did in a fun series I call the Coffee Girls.

She doesn’t have a name. You may call her whatever you like. She’s a dedicated office employee and gives 100 percent to her boss. She rarely misses a day of work and rarely misses her afternoon coffee break. She will often take a shortened lunch hour so that she can tack on an extra fifteen minutes to her normal 3:00 p.m. break just to enjoy her favorite brew a little bit longer.

On weekends, when most people want to meet up at a wine bar for a drink and a visit, she will be the one to suggest a favorite coffee shop instead. When she walks in, the staff behind the counter knows her name. She loves the familiarity almost as much as she loves her coffee. She can guide you through the coffee menu with ease. She likes to try new flavors and is confident in her choices. She is a true coffee connoisseur.

Walk With Me

Right now with all the mess going on, I know you and I won’t be walking together any time soon. And, truth be told, I kind of prefer walking by myself. If I am by myself, I don’t have to make polite conversation, talk (or hear) about problems, or have anyone roll their eyes when I have to stop (for the umpteenth time) to look at something we saw earlier in another spot. Look! Another rabbit, squirrel, bird, flower, butterfly, cloud formation, tree shape. The list goes on… and on… and on.

oil and cold wax painting

Note this: if you are the same way on a walk, we would get along fabulously (and probably be taking a lot of photos).

However, if we can’t walk together physically, we can at least walk together in spirit. Fact is, sadly, I do most of my walking this way now. No, not by some meditative mind thing. I do my in spirit walking through photos. Either my own or those so graciously shared by others. I love seeing where people have been and am very glad they are willing to share their adventures so I can come along.

This is why I now so enjoy painting outdoor scenes, even if it’s from a photo (with permission of course if it’s not mine). It doesn’t have to be a live outdoor painting experience (i.e. plein air) for me to feel it. And truth be told, I don’t like to sweat, get sunburned, fight off bugs, or lug supplies around. Also, at my age, the thought of not being close to a bathroom is a big NO NO. (Just for that, I have a huge amount of respect for plein air painters. They must have really healthy bladders.)

Anyway… at my age, I have had enough life experiences to be able to look at a photo and visualize being there, walking there, seeing the colors in the tree line or on the side of the hill. I can feel the breeze that might be blowing, feel the heat of the sun or the cool of the shade, smell the fragrances of what’s growing, hear what sounds might be there. I can put myself into the scene I am painting. I am spiritually there because at some point in life, I was physically in a scene pretty much like it.

Hopefully, if I can capture the feeling of being there, the viewer will feel they are there too. Isn’t that’s what all artists hope for? A connection with their viewer?

So, walk with me. I hope you enjoy the stroll.

Find Your Creative Side and You’ll Get Through This

Image by ShonEjai from Pixabay

I know you’re tired of all the bad news and the awful disruption to your lives. I know, like me, you are very concerned for the health of your family, friends, and others who you have had some kind of social or business interaction prior to this virus. The social distancing, the staying home, it all wears on you if it isn’t something you are used to doing.

Like a lot of artists, I spend most of my day by myself in front of a canvas or other substrate distanced from whatever or whoever is in the house. For me, it’s the norm. It’s part of the process. However, most people don’t live like this.

So… what can you do during these extra stressful times?

Find your creative side! Sounds trite, but it isn’t. I’m not making light of a very serious public health situation. Finding your creative side is a healthy thing to do, especially for your mental state.

Everyone has a creative side. When we are young, it naturally and freely expresses itself. Kids don’t care if something is not perfect. They just enjoy the creating of whatever it is they are working on. Most people lose that joy of expression as they get older… until such time as they discover an aptitude or enjoyment of a particular hobby or outlet for their free time… or they just let go of it completely and never get it back.

But… even hobbies can get boring if you do the same thing over and over. Not to mention that you just can’t do some of them right now!

So, once again, find your creative side! Express yourself. Write a short story or poetry (nobody else needs to read it), try drawing or painting something you see or something you totally make up (nobody else needs to see it), get some glue and make sculpture out of stuff you have laying around the house… like all those empty toilet paper rolls. Sing! Dance! Encourage others to do the same. Feeling stuck? You can get plenty of ideas for things to do from the internet. No internet? No problem… use your imagination! Just don’t do anything that could harm someone or something.

So… don’t sit (or pace) and stress. If you are still healthy, and I hope you are, explore your creative side. Trust me, you have one. Take time to find it.

I Love Palette Knives

I think that I shall never see,
A painting tool so right for me.

Though people often use the term palette knife when referring to any type of metal blade used for painting, there is a difference between a true palette knife and a painting knife (yep, I got that right off the internet). However, I’ll let you do the research if you’re interested. It’s really not that important. They can all be used to paint with (even the cheap plastic ones, if you’re on a budget).

The Love Affair Begins

Less than a year ago, I rarely used palette knives. I was mainly a brush painter. Then I met cold wax. Cold wax set me up with palette knives. At first we just played around and watched a lot of videos. I had no idea how strong the attraction would be. I just couldn’t stay away. I had to know more. I had to be with them… use them.

Now, palette knives are now my first choice when making art and are perfect for my preferred method/style of painting (whether using oils or acrylics). It’s fascinating to see what can be done with palette knives and different mediums. The layering, the scraping, the marks they can make. It’s quite exciting. I LOVE my palette knives.

Other reasons I love them are: they are not expensive, versatile, can take a lot of abuse, and are easy to clean. You can paint big and bold, or small and precise. (It just takes practice.) They aren’t limited to the traditional oils and acrylics either. I’ve seen them used by a watercolor artist. Yes, watercolors. Who knew? Someone experimented and it worked.

Where Did they Come From?

I’ve often wondered how this painting tool came into existence. I mean, did someone notice a bricklayer with a trowel and think “hey, I can slap a LOT of paint on a canvas with one of those!”

I don’t know.

I do know that palette knives can be traced back to the 17th century and were most likely first used to mix paint on the… tadaa.. palette. (Bet you saw that coming!) They were also used to scrape paint off of the canvas. (Made a mess? Using Oils? Still wet? Scrape it off!) By the 18th century, the palette knife was a popular tool with artists and they were widely used. Somewhere along the way, this handy dandy tool went from being a tool used just to mix or scrape off paint to being refined into a tool of many shapes and sizes for creating a painting. Just like brushes.

Want a Storage Tip?

My knives.

Go to someplace like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or Harbor Freight and look for a magnetic strip used for holding small tools. Attach it within reach of your painting area. The metal blades of the palette knives will attach to the strip. Gets them up and out of the way, yet keeps them close for when you need one.

Did I say I love them?

Taking the Plunge and Investing in Myself

This is the year I decided to step up and invest in myself. To put myself out there. To get my artwork in front of the public. And, sometimes, this requires spending some money. Investments are rarely cost free.

It wasn’t an easy decision. I had been full of doubts about whether or not I was “there yet”. When the opportunity first presented itself this past summer to become a part of the local art gallery (which had become a co-op of local artists) I let the doubts creep in and I passed it up. I spent the next six months kicking myself.

My Step One: Ignore the Doubts and Jump In

So… when I found out last November that they were still taking artist applications to join, I didn’t hesitate. No more kicking myself. I presented my work, made it in, and signed a six month financial commitment. Was it scary? You bet! Let me repeat… it was a financial commitment. What if nothing sold? I’m in a gallery with over 40 other artists/artisans and with people who are well known around North Texas. Boy was I nervous.

I also felt very vulnerable. When you put yourself out there, no matter what your creative thing is, you get viewed (and critiqued) by others. Others who usually have no clue about the process, the practice, the techniques, or the cost of what goes into what you have created. They only know what they like. Unless, of course, they too are an artist because artists know.

So… I hung my first artworks in December at the gallery. Has it been worth the monthly fee to have space there? YES! My work is selling and I do a happy dance for every one of them. I take nothing for granted.

My Step Two: More Public Interaction (Getting to Know Me)

I just took part in the indoor Winter Art Fest here locally. Step number 2 of putting myself out there. Participate in more public events. (Of course now, depending on how that darn virus spreads, that may take a backseat for a time.) Relationships are important and I need to cultivate them! Anyway, I don’t have to get into all events, just those that work for me, my schedule, and my pocketbook. As a lot of you know, there are lots of events that don’t involve any financial commitment to participate but are a great way to get your name and work out there. I’ve got several in mind for where I live.

My Step Three: Invest in Simple Advertising

I have started giving out business cards instead of leaving them in my purse. (If you prefer, you can just call them introduction cards.) They are the cheapest way to advertise what you do. If you are on Facebook (or Instagram) and have a page for your artwork or other creative outlet, it won’t break the bank to make a post and then boost it for a week to an audience that meets YOUR criteria. Social media is a great way to promote what you do. However, I’m a little concerned about Pinterest. Seems a lot of people find their artwork getting swiped from there and showing up where it shouldn’t. Anyway, I know it’s a slow process to get noticed and I don’t expect instant success.

My Step Four: I Don’t Have One

The steps above should suffice for now. I believe in myself and I’ve worked hard to get where I am in my art journey. I love what I’m doing. I am now investing in myself so others might love what I’m doing and invest in me as well.

Now, if you’re ready, go out and invest! Invest in yourself!

Enjoying Presidents Day

Mount Rushmore

I realize that today is supposed to be about remembering and paying tribute to all those who have held or do hold the title of President of the United States. However, I’m so fed up with politics that I prefer to not think about any of them (other than to find a photo of Mount Rushmore for this musing).

Nope, today I hold the title.

Today I declare myself President of my little place in the sun and I give tribute to myself for all of my accomplishments. Like many other Presidents before me, I prefer to remember the good things, the successes, that I have had under my long administration. And like many Presidents before me, I prefer to hope the failures stay in the closet. I also hope that I have learned from those failures which, unfortunately, so many of those in Washington seem to have not.

This Presidents Day, I celebrate that I put my child on the path to be a darn good adult. A good citizen. I celebrate the awesome grandchildren that I have some influence on. They will be good citizens too. I have made decent gains economically for my constituents. My economic stimulus program may not be fantastic, but it’s steady and is keeping a roof over our head and food on our table. (For that, I really have to give credit to my wonderful Vice President who does a heck of a good job. )

As President of my little corner, people are treated with respect and fairly. Though if you break the law or act like a spoiled brat and take no responsibility for what you do, you won’t get much sympathy or support from me. I try hard to uphold my commitments. Nature under my administration is treated with both awe and respect. I try to keep my little corner of the world eco-friendly and encourage others to do so. As the child and wife of a veteran, I support our military. I may not support some of the things they are forced to do by our national leaders, but I support those in our armed forces whose adherence to duty allows me to safely keep my freedoms.

So, as President of my little place in the sun, I have pardoned myself from any and all housework, yard work, or honey-do lists that need to be done.

I pardon you from these things as well. Have a good rest of the day.

Trees Are Your Friend

“Just go out and talk to a tree.” “Make friends with it.”
– Bob Ross

Trees. I love them. I admit that sometimes they don’t make the best neighbors… like when they fall on your house, or spread their roots under your foundation, or find their way into your pipes. But, other than a few instances where they cause a problem which they don’t do on purpose, trees are a wonderful gift of nature and actually do provide a unique type of friendship to those that appreciate how special they are.

Sister Trees by Karren Case Art

Yes, trees are your friend.

I haven’t yet found myself actually talking to one, but I have often thought to myself “What things have you seen? What stories could you tell?” while I have stood and studied their uniqueness. I’ve climbed them, fallen out of them, planted them, watched them grow and watched them (sadly) die. I feel a kinship with them and appreciate how special they are as well as their contribution to my well being. I could not live where there weren’t any. It also causes me pain to see them cut down for the sake of putting in another development. I’d rather see trees than more cement and buildings.

When Mr. Ross made his statement, I’m pretty sure he was telling his audience to not be intimidated when painting a landscape involving trees. If you’ve tried (other than grade school) to draw or paint them, trees can be a challenge. I admire those that do them in a realistic manner. Me, I prefer to do them semi-real or in art talk, “representational”. At least that way, the trees won’t be upset that I didn’t paint them accurately. I would not want to offend them. They are my friend. (Truthfully, it’s also how I paint just about everything.)

As an artist, I find that the different shapes, sizes, foliage colors, and changes of trees throughout the seasons to be, in a word, fascinating. I believe this is why they are, and have been for centuries, a popular subject for painters, photographers, and others. Unlike other models, trees don’t charge a sitting fee and they pretty much stay where you want them. They are also easy to find.

Even if you are NOT an artist of some type, get up close to a tree and look at it’s leaves, it’s limbs, it’s bark. That tree’s life, what it has experienced, is often right there if you look hard enough. You can see the good times and the bad times it has experienced. Again, what stories could it tell you. Stories about storms, the stress of drought, the secrets of families in the houses around it , changes to the area before you came along, and stories about those pesky woodpeckers that keep showing up!

Trees are indeed your friend. They do much for us and ask so little in return. Their biology is amazing. The aren’t just wood. Next time you are close to one, say hello. Listen to the sounds they sometimes make. And if you are so inclined, hug one.