Thursday, November 25, 2010

Being thankful for a burglar

The kitten showed up in December of 2009, he would sit and peer in the window. He would come and go most of the winter, often uninterested in the food we offered. We assumed that he lived with one of the neighbors. When he didn’t show up for several days in a row, I hoped that his family had decided to keep him safely inside.

After 6 days he reappeared, barely able to stand. I drove to the vet with the crate in the passenger seat so I could keep one hand on him, while I cried and apologized for assuming he had a home.

Two rounds of antibiotics later, Ron Burgundy could sit up to eat and started venturing around the house. He chose my art studio as his favorite place to spend time. As his health improved his personality started to show itself and we became aware of a little problem.

Ron Burgundy is a cat burglar.

To date, he has stolen the following items:

1 paintbrush- he makes repeated efforts to steal this paintbrush, once even making it off the studio table and all the way down the stairs before I could catch him and retrieve it. I think I might put one in his Christmas stocking. If he is willing to work that hard for it I think he deserves one to call his very own.

1 magnet- bearing a photo of Maisy, my dog. I’m assuming his plan was to make the magnet into some sort of voodoo doll. Voodoo dog. Sorry.

1 recently purchased silver earring.

1 drink coaster… green, beaded and shaped like a frog- removed from the desk and relocated to the door mat by the back door.

1 bra- I am happy to report that nobody was wearing it at the time.

1 roll of toilet paper. He actually rolled it out of the downstairs bathroom and I watched it bounce off the cat door that leads to the litter box in a closet. Accidentally, I’m sure… but I appreciated the irony anyway.

This year I have many things to be thankful for... but I have to say that other than the obvious things... family, friends, health, a good job... the thing I'm most thankful for is Ron Burgundy, who makes me laugh every day of my life. Even if he is a cat burglar.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Meow Bark Mini Art: Bad Louie

I love painting close-ups on 6" square canvas- I call them 'Meow Bark Minis'.  I often paint them in one sitting... perfect for an artist with the attention span of a gnat! Because the canvas is 1 1/2" thick, they look great sitting on a shelf as well as hanging on a wall. This is a new size that isn't listed on the website, but the minis are $40. This pet portrait features Bad Louie, a cat I actually know. He is the smallest in a house with three other cats, including Oliver but don't let the size fool you- Louie has earned his name & wears it well on his collar, which is covers with teeny tiny skulls & crossbones.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Why we spell B-A-T-H

'Anybody who doesn't know what soap tastes like never washed a dog' -F.P. Jones

The word B-A-T-H is never uttered aloud in our home, it is only spelled. Failure to comply with this rule causes Maisy to leap up (sometimes out of a sound sleep) bolt up the stairs, jump on the bed & remain as still as a statue in an effort to camouflage herself on the brightly colored comforter until the coast is clear. 

This plan to run up the stairs to the level of the house where 'bathing offenses' occur & to jump on the bed instead of hiding under it further illustrate my point: it is a good thing my sweet rescue dog has her looks going for her. I still love her. She forgives me my short-comings; it's only reasonable that I return the favor. With a face like this, how could I not?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who doesn't love a cat in eyeglasses?

Each season, the local library holds a book sale where old books are sold for almost nothing & the money funds library programs. I LOVE the library book sale & picked up some great loot for a bargain total of $3.50. When I start using it in art projects I’ll post photos.

On this trip, while waiting on a friend who had disappeared into the precarious stacks of books, I noticed a new mixed media piece. It really took my breath away.

According to the story, the art features Dorothy Haltom, a longtime library volunteer who walked 6 blocks to volunteer hundreds of hours over several decades. She was known as “the librarian” in her apartment complex & read as many as five books each week using a magnifier in her later years.

She died in June of 2009 at the age of 92. I’m terribly sorry that I never met her at the library. I would love to have talked to her about books. It’s clear from the art, they accompanying story & the volunteer who came up to speak to me that she was loved & admired by everyone.
Who doesn't love a cat in eyeglasses?

Monday, November 15, 2010

This weekend in the studio: where's waldo?

Yes, this is what it has come to... in order to prove that I am still actually working, I have photographed a "Where's Waldo" of sorts so you could see (sort of) what has been going on in the studio.

Let me explain. I'm very busy this time of year with pet portraits but I can't actually post them on the blog, because that could ruin a holiday surprise... so you are looking at bits & pieces of 3 paintings I finished this weekend.

Look on the bright side, in January I'll have all sorts of photos & 'art-in-progress' shots for you. We all need a little something to look forward to after the holidays, right?

Friday, November 12, 2010

I love a gaggle

My office is close to downtown Little Rock but situated near bike trails, soccer fields & a park next to the Arkansas River. In the spring & autumn the Canadian geese take a break here on the way to or from their seasonal adventures.

I have found myself stopped in the middle of the road waiting on them to waddle across on than one occasion.

For the record, they don't really get in a rush.

A coworker told me today that she was recently sitting at her desk & looked out the window to witness several of them waddling through the parking lot. I can only assume they were considering leasing the office space that recently came up for rent next door. What kind of business might a gaggle of geese manage?

This morning I stopped to photograph them in the field by my office- I want to paint them, but with my own artistic twist... maybe a hat or a scarf... or a tutu. You just never really know.

As I readied my camera, I heard two car doors close behind me as a gentleman & his son approached the field with a bag of corn. The son who was maybe 13 or 14 went right to work feeding the geese as his father encouraged him patiently & paused to explain to me that his son attends The Academy (which I know to be a private school for children with special needs) & they had made a morning ritual of driving around the neighborhood to find the geese & feed them on the way to school.

The geese have always made me smile & I look forward to their arrival to herald in the change of seasons, but now I have this great story to be reminded of each time I see them. I can't help but think that this young man will always remember it. I know I will.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why this dog makes my mouth water

With each pet portrait commission I receive, there are certain details that always need to be finalized. What photo we are using, the canvas size, background, etc. I always like to hear a bit about the pet, especially the rescues. Simon is a rescue dog & as you may notice, has been blessed with the ability to pout. That's right... Simon can stick out his bottom lip.

I was on the phone several weeks ago with David, who was ordering a painting of Simon for his wife. At some point in the conversation he gave me his email address & I realized who I was speaking with- David Stobaugh… Stoby’s Restaurant… the best cheese dip in the world.

My mouth started watering.

I was suddenly time-warped into 1993 & my first taste of that cheese dip as a college freshman. As evidence that this blog post is not a paid advertisement for Stoby’s restaurant I will point out that I blame Stoby’s cheese dip for the dreaded “freshman 15”, those pounds packed on by so many college students. I suppose it might not happen if you restrain yourself from eating the aforementioned cheese dip by the gallon with your closest friends. I’ll never know, will I?

Every single time I sat down to work on that painting, my mouth started watering… not just for the cheese dip, but also the strawberry cake.  David’s wife Patti, owner of PattiCakes Bakery (and recipient of the artwork that has now become an afterthought in my love letter to cheese dip) makes the BEST strawberry cake. I finished that painting in record time- if I hadn’t, my recently purchased Banana Republic slacks that fit just right might have become a casualty of my love affair with the cheese dip… did I mention you can buy it at the grocery store in 6 states?

At some point I had the opportunity to speak to Patti about Simon & I asked how she got him to pout for the photo.
"He was waiting for a treat... he loves cheese."
Of course he does.
And he lives with the Stobaugh's.
Lucky dog.
I hope he hasn't purchased any new slacks lately.
You may see other pet portraits on the Meow Bark Art website.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The thunder chicken & the rug

We recently purchased new area rugs for the house & I wanted to send a photo to my mom. Unfortunately for me, the rugs were purchased during a storm & Maisy is a “thunder chicken”… my official term for those who are fearful of storms. It makes me sad that she was homeless because her remedy for making it through any weather event is to attach herself to me or any other nearby human. I thought I might be able to take a quick photo (of just the rug) to send to mom before the storm got to the dog.

As happens on so many occasions in my life… I thought wrong.

Maisy enters, stage left:

“Hi, sorry to ‘photo-bomb’ but have you noticed that it’s storming? Don’t I look cute? I’d look even cuter if you would sit on the couch so I could climb up on the back of it & try to sit on your head. I think that would make us both feel better.”
“Putting a few treats in my bowl to get me off the rug & out of the photo will only distract me momentarily. I’m keeping my tail in the photo in protest.
While I eat the treats.
Yes, I’m multi-tasking.”
“Whew, barely made this one. Sorry I startled you. I’m not trying to belabor my point here… but did you know IT’S STORMING?”