Sunday, March 29, 2009

Whatever Happened to Spring??

Our snow was pretty much all gone until last night. That's when the Winter Storm Warning began for us, and now we have plenty of the white stuff again, along with high winds and drifting. It's a good thing my husband hadn't taken the snow blower off the tractor yet.

I've worked a little more on the Belgian painting the past two days and have made a little more progress. Most notably, the inside of the trailer has been painted, and this has given the painting more depth. Later I'll give some tone to that interior so that it isn't such a dark hole, but it's an improvement for now. I also painted the chrome strip on the roof, added more highlights and put in the reflections of the horses and the grass. I may need to add more grass color to make the reflections more believable later on, and after that, the whole trailer will be glazed over with a darker blue.

Now that the trailer is well under way, I can turn my attention to the horses again; the part I've been anxiously waiting for. In the next step, the left hand horse will be painted and made darker as was my plan from the beginning. The painting should really come alive with this step.

Since it's tax season, I've also been working on taxes, and they will be my focus until today's paint is dry. I can't wait to get the taxes done and to the accountant so that I can spend more time on art again. That should be enough incentive to keep going and not procrastinate any longer, like I've been doing along with just about every other American.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Moving Along with The Green Team

Here is today's progress, and as you can see, finishing the trailer made a big difference in the looks of the painting.

The first thing I did today was correct the rail on the right side. I may make more corrections when I paint the interior of the trailer and the next layer on the outside, but for now it will stay as it is. Sometimes it's better to correct in increments to be sure they're needed as the rest of the painting progresses.

One of the frustrations I've been having as I paint these days is due to arthritis in my hands. I can't flip brushes around in my fingers as I used to, and I'm dropping them more. That is taking some getting used to and requires greater care in brush handling. I just hate it when a brush drops into blobs of paint on the palette!

And, that's all I have to say for today. Except that the trailer color really isn't quite as neon looking as it may appear on your monitor.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Going Blue With The Green Team

Yesterday was the official start of Spring, so what did we get during the night?! You guessed it; snow! The weather warmed up during the day, and by night fall the new snow is almost gone. There's still plenty of the old snow, but it's receding little by little. Alas, the crocus are still buried under piled up snow along the driveway. When they pop their heads up, we know that Spring is really here!

Today I worked on the Belgian painting again and got a little further on the trailer. Not much, but a little. It was fussy, time-consuming work to paint all those lines and try to blend them and keep them straight, and I'm glad that part is done with. It will need another layer of paint, but the next layer should be easier.

It's amazing what you DON'T see when you're working up close on a painting, as I was today. It wasn't obvious until I shot the photo that the rails on the trailer are off on the right side. I'll have to fix them on the next go round.

When I paint the rest of the trailer; which I hope to do tomorrow; it will make a big difference in how the painting looks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

One Fine Day

Yesterday was just a glorious day all the way around! Our temperatures hit a balmy 70 degrees fehrenheit which is most unusual in these parts for mid March.

I spent most of the day painting in the studio on this painting after dusting it off. It's been almost a year since I last worked on it; hard as that is to believe; so the first step was to wipe it down with turpentine to soften the paint slightly for better adherence of this fresh layer. Next, I oiled out the part that I was going to be working on and began the paint application. You can see that I've painted the upper part of the trailer and will finish it before moving back to the horses.

My mentor had suggested using a straight edge for getting edges nice and straight in paint, and I happened to think of my old plastic triangles from my old graphic design days. They proved perfect for this task! They were designed for using with ink pens and, unlike a straight edge, there is a slight recessed area underneath the edge of the triangle. This prevents the ink or paint from bleeding under the edge and then smearing. I used a large triangle and a small one to make the edges straighter as I painted. A bristle brush worked well and probably better than a sable or blend for this purpose, and there were no smears. The chrome strip on the roof still looks messy from the underpainting, but I'll clean that up once this layer is dry and the chrome strip can be painted.

Due to the tediousness of painting all those edges, I can see that the trailer will be a time consuming project. It's obvious already, though, that it will improve the appearance of the painting tremendously.

The second half of my day went equally well. I headed to the barn in a short sleeved t shirt and had a lovely ride inside where it was actually colder than outside. There's still far too much snow outside for Scottie and I to go on a trail ride, but we hope to soon. He is still sore, and we are both very out of shape.

When I turned Scott loose after our ride, instead of eagerly heading off to join his buddies, he stayed by my side nuzzling and licking me as if to say how much he's missed me or perhaps to comfort me. I swear sometimes that he reads my mind!

I headed home from the barn with a very full heart and a feeling of deep satisfaction. It had been one mighty fine day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ginny Baker - March 1914-March 2009

I didn't really want to write a downer of a blog post, but how can one let the passing of the last parent, particularly a mother, go by without some acknowledgment?

As I mentioned in my last post, my 94 year old mother survived her surgery. Unfortunately, she developed pneumonia and went downhill fast from there. The wonderful doctors and nurses at University Hospitals in Ann Arbor managed to keep her alive until my two sisters arrived from out of state, and then we said our goodbyes and let her go.

I won't dwell on any of the sad stuff, partly because the reality of our loss has yet to really sink in. Instead, wonderful memories are resurfacing as I go through her photos and think back to my childhood and young adulthood. The strained relationship I had with my parents is now ancient history and best forgotten for there is much good to remember and celebrate about my parents.

My mother kept me in endless drawing paper as a kid by bringing home scrap paper from her office job. When I began to explore oil paints, she cut up old window shades for me to paint on and as I got older, I was allowed to buy some real art supplies: pastels, colored inks, real drawing paper, drawing pencils and pens and brushes and watercolors.

My dad took me for my first pony ride when I was about eight, and sometime after that, my mother took me to the old fairgrounds for my first ride on a real horse. The horse was black, and her name was Patsy, and she was VERY TALL! I was both terrified and thrilled at the same time!

When I was about ten, my parents paid for riding lessons every Saturday and did so for the next three years. My mother was even brave enough to go riding with me once although she really had no interest in horses.

When I was twelve, I was allowed to buy my first horse with my own money, and my parents paid the board bills and other expenses for the brief time that I owned Willie. Years later, when I bought my second horse, my parents offered to help with his expenses if I wasn't able to manage them myself. They knew just how much horses meant to me and how important it was to have them in my life again after a thirty year absence.

Without doubt, the most generous, loving thing they ever did for me came after the death of my first husband when I was just 23 years old. They were on sabbatical in Seoul Korea at the time and paid for me to join them during their final months abroad. On the way home, we travelled to many exotic countries, and although I was deep in mourning, it was a trip of a lifetime and one that probably changed my whole outlook on the world.

I'll never know how much it cost my parents for those riding lessons, the board bills and that trip around the world because they never brought it up. But, it had to be considerable.

Having raised two young daughters alone during the Depression, my mother had the very strong opinion that any young girl must prepare herself to earn a living if need be at some time in the future. Art school was discouraged when I graduated from high school as too impractical, so I studied English Literature in college instead. I'm not sure it was any more practical, but at least it met with parental approval.

When I went back to school to study art twenty years later, my parents couldn't have been more supportive or proud. My mother was proud to show off her daughter's paintings to every visitor after she moved into the retirement home, even after she lost her sight and could no longer see them herself.

Among the many gifts my mother gave me, the most important of them were strength of character, consideration for others, self sacrifice, silly humor and how to give parental love.

Thanks for Everything, Mom.