Lone Star Series: #8

This is the last one of the series. Yep, I think it’s time to put it to rest. At least for now. This one is titled The Pond. If you are a city person, you may have never had the chance to “head down to the pond” for some good times. Ponds on many farms are not just for the livestock. Many are also the family’s swimming pool (or hole if you want to get real). In addition to possibly being a place to swim, many farms have ponds stocked with fish and which makes them “multi-use” additions to the land.

Anyhow that’s what we did in the ponds on grandpa’s farm. Fish. As a verb, not a noun. Fishing for perch and catfish. Those are what was swimming in grandpa’s ponds. Not people. Just fish, along with turtles, frogs, insects, and the occasional snake. Oh, the dog too. Throw a stick in the water and in he’d go! Grandpa’s ponds were mostly surrounded by wooded and brushy areas so lots of critters (other than, of course, cows!) could be found creeping around the banks looking to drink or for something to eat. If you wanted to get in the water, you went to the creek, not the pond. (That’s a whole ‘nother story which I wrote about a long time ago.)

There were no trips to the local bait shop out at the farm. We got our bait by taking butterfly nets and running through the fields catching grasshoppers for our hooks. We also got some of the biggest and best worms ever born by digging in the piles of old dirt, hay and cow poop behind the barn. Grandpa would handle the pitchfork and turn over the mess and we would dig in with our old spoons and all ten fingers. Can’t go fishing and be afraid of getting “earthy”.

Those were some good times.

Lone Star Series: #6

Here we go again! Number six in the series is simply The Creek. It’s in the gallery right now and I’m not sure if I need to bring it home and tweak it a bit. Like my painting, The Field, my gut is telling me it needs something. Maybe some cows! No, maybe the hint of some wildflowers. We’ll see.

The Creek (oil and cold wax)

So what inspired this? Well, when we aren’t in a low rain period, there are quite a few creeks around here. I like seeing them because I know that the wildlife will have a place to drink from. With all the dang development going on, habitat is being destroyed right and left. If you know me… you know how much I dislike seeing that.

I also like creeks because they can be a fun thing to explore. Provided you are wearing the appropriate footwear. Birds, frogs, interesting rocks, reptiles and interesting weeds or wildflowers are often found along the edges. Truthfully, I haven’t explored any for a long time. Growing up, I was an avid and eager explorer of such things. I have tons of memories of fun times exploring creeks, streams (wet and dry), rivers of all widths, and lakes. It’s what you did before cable and electronics took over a person’s childhood. If it weren’t for so many foot and ankle issues, I’d still be attempting it. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

Happy exploring!

Lone Star Series: #7

More cows! Not much to say about this painting other than I felt the need to do another one in tribute to all the cows that have been moved (or moooved) out of the area. No, I won’t get on my soapbox this time about development. Also, cows are popular, and this one was larger than the first one for this series.

Cows II

I realize this style is not realistic. It’s not supposed to be. It’s representational. However, let me tell you, “representational painting” of bovines (or any animal) is not easy. I won’t admit to how many times I have had to scrape away a cow and try again, on a number of paintings. Anyway, it’s all about the illusion of the cow. Repeat after me… “I see cows. I see cows.” Keep saying it. You’ll see them.

This is another palette knife painting using oils and cold wax. It’s titled Cows II. Yeah… not very imaginative, but I need to reinforce the illusion. Ha!

Lone Star Series: #5

Moonlit evenings. I love them. There is something about a bright moon shining over a landscape that moves something deep within my soul. (Now if scary music starts playing… my feet may get moved!) Many times driving back from my daughter’s home to mine, I have had the pleasure of being presented with a beautiful moon softly bathing the landscape below. It was such a night several years ago as I was driving the backroads from Celina through Prosper to McKinney that has stayed in my mind… and inspired this painting in my Lone Star series.

Have you ever seen something like this? I sincerely hope you have. Nights like this, no matter where you are, should be treated as a gift. Nature is full of such gifts. You just have to look and appreciate the moments. (And not drive off the road if you are behind the wheel. Safety first, appreciation second.) On the other hand, if you are a huge fan of werewolf movies… well, never mind, you probably know about garlic and silver bullets.

In conclusion. I hope you get as much enjoyment from moonlit nights as I do. As the song says, “the moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free”.

Lone Star Series: #4

I can’t speak for other parts of the state, but North Texas has a nice sized group of hot air balloon enthusiasts. Certain times of the year, you can see them floating lazily below the clouds as they travel with the winds aloft. Who doesn’t feel the tiniest bit of awe at these monster sized balloons in their coats of many colors. I have not been up in one, can’t say that I really want to… unless it’s tethered. Not scared, just don’t want to have to wear an adult diaper on a trip. It’s not like I can say… “can you pull over right there? I need to pee.”

Sky Candy Over the Farm

In the small field between my house and the community college across the way. Sometimes hot air balloons will unload, fire up, and take off in the early morning hours. Talk about a “wake up call”… you can’t sleep through that sound! How lovely though to watch it lift off and drift overhead. My husband and I will walk out onto the deck or over to the back of the yard and salute the effort with our coffee cups. They are so close we can converse with the handlers. At area balloon fests, they will light up after dark for a “glow” event. It’s awesome to see.

I love seeing them in the sky here in North Texas. They look so peaceful up there. Maybe one day I will take a ride. I’m sure Depends come in my size.

Behind the Lone Star Series: #3

I love the how looking at water in a natural setting can spark so many different emotions. Serenity, excitement, awe, all the way to “looking wild… time to go!” So many memories of so many wonderful places in many different states. This is why so many of my paintings will have a bit of lake, river or creek somewhere in the scene.

Number 3 in my Lone Star Series: Water View could be anywhere in Texas. It came from my imagination and is not of a particular spot. It’s more of a memory of many places that look something like this (minus all the red… but you get what I mean). I hope it will remind you of some place you’ve been, maybe while hiking or looking for a place to go fishing. Or maybe when you were out looking to see where the cows went.

Palette knife painting using oils and cold wax on a wood canvas.

Lone Star Series: #2

The second in the series The Field was inspired by so many scenes typical on the back roads north of where I live. Again, it’s not of a real place. It’s a compilation of things I have seen and put together in my mind. That’s what we do. We try and put on canvas what is in our mind (or right in front of us if using a real reference).

This is not the final rendition of this painting. (I forgot to take a photo.) Anyway, when it was still in the gallery, I kept saying to myself it was missing something. It needed something. It wasn’t pulling me into the scene the way I wanted it to. So after several weeks, I took it home and did a little reworking. I added a small area of sunflowers in the foreground of the field and a tiny bit of green here and there. To me it looked so much more appealing. I’m glad I listened to my gut. The painting sold less than a week later.

The lesson here? If your gut rumbles, listen. It’s trying to tell you it’s more than just hungry.

Behind the Lone Star Series: #1

As in many other once wide open spaces, North Texas land is being torn up and turned into shopping areas and subdivisions. It makes me sad. So, I started the Lone Star series as my way of saying to the land “I miss what you used to be.”

Fields with cows aren’t just in Texas, but how can you think about a Texas countryside and NOT imagine cows? Some states are just historically cow country… or used to be.

As a kid, I spent a lot of summers around cows over in Oklahoma. Stepped in quite a few “cow patties” too. (Now that’s something I’ll never miss.) As a kid, I liked rodeos until I saw a calf get roped and its head snapped so hard it was injured. Didn’t want to see anymore after that. At least not the roping part.

Then and now, I have a deep appreciation for these animals. Like other livestock found on farms and ranches, they provide so much for us, and ask so little in return.

The painting above is done in oils mixed with cold wax and applied with palette knives. My favorite way to paint.

The Challenge of An Art Club in the Time of COVID

I belong to the local art club and am also on the Board. It’s been a real challenge for us keeping things going this year.

With Covid being such a concern, a lot of our members did not rejoin this Spring. Many who have rejoined are not participating in club activities. They are fearful. We understand. We also understand that we have some members who want to continue to have events in some form or fashion. We are trying hard to keep both sides of the debate (do something, don’t do something) happy.

So… we have been trying. We had a Zoom virtual meeting back in October. It was mostly the Board who tuned in. That was really disappointing. Our club’s President spent a lot of time with the logistics of it all. As the program presenter for that month, I video taped, edited, and uploaded my presentation. I doubt if more than a few watched it. (But boy did I learn some things during the process!) For this club, doing things via internet isn’t their thing. We understand.

For November we had a “come and go” project for community outreach and we can claim it as a success. Members were given the option to 1) come, stay, and create handmade cards to be given to a local assisted living/memory care facility or 2) come, drop off their handmade cards, and leave quickly with a hearty wave of their hand.

This come and go type of meeting format seems to work for us… so far. Masks are required, hand sanitizer is available in mass quantities, tables/chairs are limited and set far apart, and elbow taps (or booty taps) have replaced hugs. Though the masks prevented us from seeing each others smiles, they couldn’t keep us from hearing the laughter and talk from those who have missed seeing each other in person.

More events are planned around the limitations of the current health crises. Luckily for us, we are not in an area that has a high number of cases. If that changes, our plans will have to change. Planning or running any kind of club is a matter of being flexible right now and knowing that things could be cancelled at any time.

One good thing. If the club should fall apart this year, the Board has a really good excuse. It wasn’t us. It was COVID.

Artists and Their Muses

What is a Muse?

Image by Michael Drummond

According to the dictionary, a muse is:

  1. (from Greek and Roman mythology) each of nine goddesses, who were the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.
  2. as a noun, it means a person – usually a woman – who is a source of artistic inspiration.

Artists and creative persons have, for centuries, referred to their muse either with great affection or with great despair. It all depends on whether the creative person is having a good day, week, month… or not.

Muses, it seems, can be very fickle.

Do I Have a Muse? Do You?

I think all creative people have someone or something that inspires them. So, yes, I think I have a muse… probably more than one. Are they female? Are they real or spiritual? Do they show up in human form or in the form of an animal? Is it in the form of nature?

I am my own muse, the subject I know best.
Frida Kahlo

Nature’s my muse and it’s been my passion.
Frans Lanting

I have, for years, told my cats that they are my muses. When I’m painting, one or more finds the need to watch what I’m doing or curl up and nap somewhere near. Having them around when I’m painting does, in fact, relax me and that feeling lets the creative juices flow… until they start wrestling with each other, which leads to at least one getting pissed off, which does tend to interrupt my artistic flow.

That’s when my muses get the boot from the room. At that point, they have ceased to be “musing” or “amusing”.

Clear Your Mind, Let Your Muse In

Whatever your inspiration is or wherever it comes from, you won’t hear it or be inspired by it if your mind is cluttered… and we all have been feeling the effects of “mind clutter” since this darn Covid 19 came on the scene.

I read the comments of many other artists in various social media groups. Often I see that people are not feeling motivated (inspired) right now, but that happens even in the best of times. Clear your mind. Find your happy place. Let your muse in.

Three Muses 2020

Your muse or muses, your sources of inspiration, have NOT left you. It’s just hard to hear them right now.

Probably because they are wearing a mask.

Hang in there and focus on hearing what’s being said. Your inspiration is still speaking to you.