Monday, January 31, 2011

Warm enough

I needed to finish painting flowers on a pet portrait but it has been so cold outside that I was having a hard time motivating myself to paint lush green grass & flowers. The dogs in the painting were finished, two very happy Springer Spaniels. Of course they were happy- I’d be happy too if I were sitting outside in a flower garden on a beautiful day… but it's January in Arkansas. This would be unlikely. Or would it?

On Saturday morning, something wonderful happened; just 3 short weeks after this it was WARM outside.

Warm enough for a walk by the river with my favorite dog & my favorite person.

Warm enough to wear flip-flops to yoga.

Warm & sunny enough for the solar lights on the deck to wake up & shine for a few hours in the evening before going back into hibernation..

And yes- even warm enough to make me smile as I finished painting the flowers.

The Springer Spaniels will be featured in a 'Feature Art Friday' post in a couple of weeks.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Feature Art Friday: A tongue-wagging rescue dog

Brody is a Lhasa Apso who was adopted from a shelter in the Washington D.C. area.

The poor little guy had been hit by a car, which caused permanent damage to his jaw alignment, causing his tongue to hang out all the time. His new family loved him not in spite of this, but possibly in part because of it.

I wonder if Brody ever goes to the dog park...

If so, do the other dogs think he is being saucy when he is always sticking his tongue out at them?

I love, love, LOVE people who rescue dogs & cats.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

36 things list: yoga & the wino

I signed up for a 6 week yoga class & loved every moment of the first 90 minute class, so much so that although I was almost physically unable to get out of the bed on Sunday, I went back the following Saturday. On the day of the second class, I felt so good that I went home to rake & bag 12 bags of leaves. That very afternoon.

If there is anything I am sure of at this point in my life it is this: it takes me a longer-than-average time to learn from my mistakes. I had plenty of time to come up with that little gem of introspection as I lay there in my bed for the second Sunday in a row wondering if anything other than my eyelashes & my teeth didn't hurt.

I’m happy to report that I finally came to my senses on the day of the third class & did the 90 minutes of yoga & called it a day.

Unless you count a little shopping & a glass of wine.

Or two.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Creativity & the kitty carnival ride

This magical canopy caught my eye yesterday at Anthropologie & I was completely mesmerized by it. Seeing it made me feel so creative, I had to fight the urge to kick off my shoes & hop up on the bed to stand under it. Wouldn’t you like to know what it looks like from underneath?

Who designed it? Wouldn’t it be great to talk to the person who came up with it? Did he or she sketch this & then make it exactly like it looked in his head? Or did she just sit down with a pile of material & start making it not knowing what it would become? Or maybe something in between?

Maybe someday I will make one of my own & maybe Ron Burgundy, the adventurous cat that he is, will believe that his wildest dreams have come true & we have installed a kitty carnival ride in the house.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Feature Art Friday: Polly & the repeat customer award

My friend Joanne, who is an amazing pet rescue advocate has ordered a painting from me for her best friend, herself, her son & now her mother & father-in-law. I've had one other person order four paintings, but they were all ordered at once & they were all her dogs. Joanne orders them for everyone she loves, who also happen to love dogs.

We actually meet at the same place each time I finish a painting & have it ready to deliver. It cracks me up when I email & tell her I have her art ready & she says, "ok, meet you at the usual place?" She ordered some magnets from me once & because I was out of the magnet backing it took longer than usual for me to finish them. I tried to give them to her for free because she had to wait so long & she refused... & made a donation in my honor to 'Out of the Woods". So sweet. By the way, how beautiful is this dog??

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

36 things list: What the frock?

As a child, books were a huge part of my life; so much so that as punishment for bad behavior, I would actually be grounded from reading. When other parents would hear this, they would look at my mother as if she had sprouted an extra head.

“You take away her books?”

My mother would reply rather flippantly, “You ground your kid from what, the television? Have you ever heard of a child deciding that they enjoyed their week without television so much that they give it up? I didn’t think so. I know what I’m doing.”

And she really did know what she was doing. I would read during dinner, in the car on the way to & from school, even while walking. I took more than a tumble or two because I wasn’t watching where I was going.

As part of my '36 Things List', I reread a couple of my favorite children’s books: Dancing Shoes & Theater Shoes by Noel Streatfield. Most of the books in this series involve children facing some trying family circumstances who are subsequently enrolled in a dancing school or some other fun activity to take their mind off of the challenges in their world. As a child with a terminally ill parent, I really lost myself in the books. They were written in the 1940’s & set in England, which seemed like another planet to a kid growing up in rural southwestern Arkansas. My mom was already at her wits end taking care of my father while trying to raise two little girls. I drove her insane with my constant barrage of questions, which were typically shouted to her from another room:

“MOM… What’s a sixpence?”

“WHAT?” she would shout back from the sink where she was scrubbing dishes.

“A sixpence. How much money is that in England?”

“I have no idea.”

“How long is a fortnight?”

“What? I don’t know.”

“MOM, what does frock mean?”

(This one really got her attention.)

“WHAT did you say?”

“Frock. What is a frock? I think it might be some sort of clothes.”

“Oh…” she sounded relieved. “Frock. I’m not sure.”

Shortly after that last exchange she came home with a dictionary for me, which I promptly inscribed with my name & carried everywhere.

Unfortunately for mom, the dictionary idea backfired. That dictionary gave me power. As an eight-year-old, I could now spell every word in the English language. More specifically, I could now corner my weary mother in the kitchen & open the dictionary to any page, level my eyes at her over the book & demand that she spell ‘hackneyed’ or ’ichthyologic’.

Poor woman. No wonder she grounded me from books.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Feature Art Friday: Turbo & the magic spell

My head is a little cobwebby today from a cold I’m trying to outrun, a cold that seems (oddly) to be in better shape than I am. Or maybe it just has better running shoes, I don't know.

For ‘Feature Art Friday’ I wanted to share this pet portrait with you- his name is Turbo & he was commissioned by my dog groomer, Kim Thompson for her daughter. Kim’s daughter also works at Pinnacle Valley Animal Hospital so we had to be very covert about the whole thing.

My Maisy is a rescue dog (of course…) & she was very timid when she first came to live with me. I was actually just supposed to be fostering her for a local rescue organization but I got awfully attached to her because she was so fearful of new people & places. Knowing this about her made it a huge surprise for me that she very clearly fell in love with Kim, who was not only a stranger, but a stranger who works in the V-E-T’s office.

Anyway, Kim has put some sort of a magical spell over Maisy & I won’t let anyone else near her for grooming. It’s probably a good thing… if I tried she might pack up a little “doggie bag” & hitch a ride to find Kim.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A snow day & a snow cat

Snow isn’t a frequent occurrence in central Arkansas. It happens often enough that it isn’t a huge shock but seldom enough everyone gets very excited about it. It usually isn’t very deep so it isn’t around long, which makes it a nice treat.

Winter “weather events” here are more likely to be ice storms, which are really no fun at all. Snow, in the small amounts we see… that’s fun. (Unless you need something from the grocery store, then it’s a feverish crowd of otherwise sane people making crazy eyes & loading up their shopping carts with milk, bread, meat & eggs.)

Ron Burgundy pouted & watched from the back door. Don’t feel too sorry for him- he’s pouting with warm dry feet & a bowl of cat food, which is much more than I can say for his experience with the snow last year before he moved in with us!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Feature Art Friday: A sheltie mix & his family

This is Auto & the humans he owned. He lived 17 wonderful years & was obviously loved very well… he’s the star of the family portrait!

Auto’s pet portrait was commissioned by Scott as a gift for his wife. Scott tells me that even though Auto has been gone since 2008 & there are other dogs in the house he is still missed terribly. What a special dog- I’m sorry I didn’t get to meet him.

If the family portrait didn’t offer enough proof that Scott Minor loves dogs, I only had to pull up to deliver the painting at the business Scott shares with Charles Wyrick to be certain. Scott & Charles own Lucky Dog Audio Post, a full service sound design company in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I’m not sure who is luckier… Auto for finding his way to such dog-loving people or the Minor family for knowing what was clearly a very special dog for so long, but I feel pretty lucky to have had the experience of painting Auto & hearing about his wonderful life with this family.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A yorkie & a bakery

As an artist, the ultimate compliment is having someone order another painting from you. It means that they not only loved their pet portrait, but they loved it enough to want to share it with someone else. I really thought nothing could be better than a repeat client... but I was wrong. Want to know what is better than a repeat client?

Here is the pet portrait of Simon, the first painting I did for David & Patti Stobaugh. Patti has it hanging in her new PattiCakes Bakery in Conway, Arkansas.

A repeat client who gives you an ENTIRE case of Stoby’s cheese dip.

Here it is- my case of cheese dip. Here is "was" I should say...
Yes my friends, that happened. After I delivered a pet portrait of Simon the rescue dog to David & Patti Stobaugh in October I wrote this post about the painting & how much I loved the cheese dip they serve at their restaurant. At some point after that, Patti contacted me about painting her mother’s dog, Tuffy. I had forgotten about the blog post. She, very sweetly had not, and as I stood in her bakery smelling all of the heavenly sweets she came in the door grinning from ear to ear & carrying a box of cheese dip. She was very pleased with herself, but not nearly as pleased as I was.

This is the second painting. Tuffy will be featured in a Feature Art Friday post soon with 'in-progress' photos.
It was a big thrill to be there when her mom stopped by the bakery & she got the painting of Tuffy- she loved it. It’s very clear that he is a lucky little dog.

Me? After spending most of the weekend with what was (briefly) an entire case of Stoby’s cheese dip, I can’t really button my pants very well... but I have a LOT of good cheese dip. I have become very popular with my friends.

By the way, if you are wondering about the sweets in the bakery they are amazing. I had some chocolate chip cookies & my only complaint is that I only bought two for the drive back to Little Rock. After all, I've seen the magic those two can do on cheese dip... Two cookies? Really? What was I thinking?
Check out this beautiful cake... now THAT is art!

More goodies in the bakery case

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Lessons learned in 2010: cheerleaders & belly button fuzz coasters

For most of my adult life, I didn’t show anyone anything I made. I didn’t sign things. My face turned red & I started stammering if anyone referred to me as an artist. My initial efforts to develop this part of myself were to help ‘Out of the Woods’ by selling pet portraits & donating part of the money I made to help rescue homeless animals. I really didn’t expect much. I certainly didn’t expect to be shipping art to people I have never met who live halfway across the country.

As with every chance we take and every big change we make in our lives, hopefully there will be people who will be positive and supportive and non-judgmental. People who help you believe that you really can accomplish anything, and without even sounding like cheerleaders just point out matter-of-factly that yes… you can paint the cat. You SHOULD paint the cat.

I am lucky enough to have a few very special people who have encouraged every new idea that has popped into my creative little head over the last 2 years. People who I firmly believe would cheer for me if I fashioned a set of coasters from belly button fuzz… not because they want a set, but because they recognize that making things makes me happier that I ever could have imagined. It makes me, well… me. You know who you are, and I thank you.

Unfortunately, for every encouraging person you find, you will likely find as many who are quite the opposite. People who question or openly criticize your efforts or your projects… individuals who roll their eyes when you refer to yourself as an artist, or a singer, or a circus performer, or whatever it is that makes you happy. Constant negativity can easily become a habit, especially for people who are unhappy with their own lives. Especially if they find other people for whom negativity has become a habit. Don’t take it personally, but don’t subject yourself to it anymore than you have to.

This year I learned to purposefully surround myself with as many as I could of the former and as few as possible of the latter. In 2011 I wish the same for you.