topiary cats

topiary cats

Monday, August 21, 2017

Fissures PRT

8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper

.... and i now have the stuffy cold. Woke up with daggers in my throat. :(

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sundries PRT

On Friday we got a LOT of rain.....and there was a GINORMOUS WATER BUG in my bathroom!
I'm super very really extremely scared of water bugs.  :(

Daya was scared too so we shut the door and hoped it would go away overnight....and it did.

Daya has a stuffy-cold.  :(

Rob got me really pretty flowers!  And... I have been looking for a can of WD-40 unsuccessfully so he remembered and got me one.  Flowers and man is awesome.

Sunday I went to Jackie's for tea.

Then I came home, made a spinach lasagna in my crock pot, chocolate mint brownies, and a loaf of banana bread.  Then I bleached my whole kitchen..... maybe I breathed in too many bleach fumes because my lungs kind of hurt......

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Riverside Park Plein Air PRT

Here is a plein air from tonight, a bit less than an hour and a half.
8x10 pastel on grey Richeson sanded paper, Rembrandt pastels.

big geese to the right

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Travelling the Shallows PRT

Another Turquoise Loitering topiary cat.....

8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper
(lots of Unisons)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Two Bikes PRT

Daya's bike needs repair so I told her she could use mine.
This bike is 27 years old, I got it when I was 12 and I was SO EXCITED... I waited over a year for it.

Riding my bike was one of the few nice memories I have of that time.
I rescued it from my mother's hoarded house when Daya was in preschool...the last time I ever went there.  It was a HUGE battle for me to be able to take my bike, even though it wasn't being used and was one of three sitting in the garage.  Besides, it is my bike.
However irrational, even when THEY know it is completely irrational, taking something out of a hoarder's home- even if it isn't even theirs- results in much infliction of suffering.  My mother sure did make me pay for taking my bike.

But I had wanted it back for years, and I know that i would be sitting here to this day wanting it back. Now I can give it to my daughter -- in a time of need, too- although it is a cool thing to pass down... instead of it rotting and rusting in that dangerous horrible house.

Jackie bought an exercise bike from a hipster on Craigslist.  She asked me if I would go with her to pick it up, and I said of course because I want Jackie to be safe, even though it was in her neighborhood.

The hipster wasn't very threatening.

DEFINITELY a trust fund kid.
She apparently has a problem with getting drunk and buying expensive stuff on Amazon Prime...she spoke about it quite casually and assumed the both of us could relate. (nope)
Even as we took the bike out a delivery man came with another HUGE box for her.
I guess she'll sell whatever that is on Craigslist too.

So anyhow we brought that bike back several blocks to Jackie's the way everyone in NYC does with no car--- in the ubiquitous shopping cart. It fell a few times, only once while crossing street, and we provided entertainment to everyone sitting out on the stoops watching the neighborhood go by.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Portal Entry PRT

Another one in the Topiary Cats: Turquoise Loitering series.
8x10 pastel on black Richeson sanded paper

Friday, August 11, 2017

Thing Three PRT

In a freakish accident the stoneware bowl of my crockpot shattered.  :(

The replacement only cost $13 with free shipping....relieved about that.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

A Plein Air PRT

I went out painting after work... the painting is not great, has been a while since I got my oils out.
But the evening was lovely.... I saw another painter not too far away.

My bug repellant fan thingy needs new batteries or a new cartridge because I have a ton of mosquito bites. :(

The sky is from early evening then the street lights came on later and made nice reflections which I added in near the end.  It is maybe a little too much composition for a 6x8.

Conservatory Water
6x8 oil on panel

Monday, August 07, 2017

Thing 2 PRT

Today is a very Mondayish Monday. 
I came into work and rebooted my computer which resulted in my randomly getting locked out of the network (resolved) and the corruption of all my USB ports. 

IT said everything needs an update- the BIOS and all the drivers. 
And it is taking forever and freezing. 
Things eventually go corrupt if not updated properly. 

While I am not especially concerned, there are things I really need to get done today and I cannot work at all.  I am literally sitting at my desk reading a book. 

Wednesday, August 02, 2017


There was a HUGE GINORMOUS WASP in my bathroom.
I have never had a wasp in here before.

I tried a few things but ended having to run out and get spray and then I flushed it and that was scary too because it fell in the bathtub and I had to get it out..

Rob stayed on the phone with me.

It was horrible and awful and scary and I'm exhausted and I think I breathed in wasp spray and I'm a bit traumatized.

I didn't know wasps were that HUGE and I didn't know they wanted to come into my bathroom.


Flip Ninja PRT

So back at the start of July I had this Idea that if we had Deadlines it would make the month go by faster because time flies with a deadline.

Week 1 was to come up with a story in 4 parts
Week 2 was the storyboard
Week 3 first 2 paintings
Week 4 last 2 paintings

All I can really say right now is that July was a truly brutal month and I'm not in a good place and it is pretty incredible I painted at all. And I have to get through PRT.

Weirdly I have this nagging suspicion I did 4 paintings but I know I only did three and at least I stuck with a theme of some sort.

Carey and I didn't know what our title would be so she said Flip Ninja and that sounds fine to me.

All are 8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper.
The first 2 I previously posted.



The Waiting Pools

Monday, July 31, 2017

Entering PRT

Pigeon Risk Time (PRT) starts at 11:59pm tonight all local time zones.

I did not actually make it through July but Carey resurrected me so....
This year is the 10 year anniversary of Pigeon Risk Time.

This summer has been really brutal. :(

Monday, July 24, 2017

Assorted Long Update

July is dragging terribly but would probably be worse if Carey and I hadn't implemented Deadlines.
Procrastinating with blog updates also helps speed time up.

A Course in Miracles
I'm still going through ACIM, mostly every day.
It is pretty amazing.
When i am done with the theory I'll start the workbook which spans 1 year.

As of right now I have 11 hours and 46 minutes remaining-- of 36 hours.

Beach 1: two weeks ago I took Daya to the beach (Rockaway), on a Tuesday which was nice because it wasn't too crowded.  I wish people weren't allowed to play their stupid music and we had to move twice but the water was lovely.  I got a terrible sunburn, really bad, and it is mostly gone but I am still itchy.

I have gotten a long sleeve swimsuit top, should have done that a long time ago.

Daya is bored and very lonely.
I don't know what to do about it, really, because I can't send her to camp this year.  To be honest, and as much as she would deny it, she would also be miserable at camp because she was last year aside from a few overnight trips.
Everything I suggest is flat-out rejected.
She's too young for the volunteering and community service places to take her without an adult.

All the dance people and school friends have vacations to go on, camp, and families to be with.

She was very burned out on camp last year and of course has forgotten all about that. By the last two weeks she was even tired of swimming and was wanting to stay home.

Daya is tutoring in the neighborhood twice a week, and she goes to dance but the studio really doesn't have much going on at all this summer.

Rob has suggested maybe finding a church and I'm open to it.
I have been researching a bit and I think I have to go Unitarian because they are very inter-faith friendly.

Daya needs more people in her life- adults and kids. It can't be just her and me- it's not good for either of us.

Rob said find kids who are exposed to hearing things like be kind to others and he has a good point. Daya is vehemently against going but she doesn't have any concept so I'm not taking her refusal seriously.  She rejects every single new thing I suggest anyhow. So I'm going to override her on this one.

We painted Daya's room and it is a nice grey color instead of purple.

Upstairs Neighbors
I spent $25 on a really thick padded moving blanket and brought it upstairs and asked nicely if my neighbors would put it under their speaker, which they were willing to do.  It worked. I'm not getting pounded by drums and bass now.  Last night my ceiling seemed a little bit shaky and rumbly even over the fan and air conditioning, so I wondered just how well my blanket was working.  Turns out, fantastically.

They are on the third floor and their speaker is back and down the hall- and I could hear their music in the second floor hallway in front of my apartment.  I walked upstairs, got halfway up and oh. my. gosh they were BLASTING- and I mean BLASTING AT FULL VOLUME some kind of terrible death metal. This was about 10pm Sunday evening.  I couldn't believe how incredibly loud it was, truly excessive- I'm shocked their other neighbors aren't complaining.

So the blanket works. Thank God.
That was absolutely horrible.

My plant flowered... it has been on my desk at work for years...and it just flowered for the first time.  It is a huernia something-or-other.

I showed my boss, and he said it looks like the super-villain Starro from 1960... comic book stuff.

I think it is awesome to have a super-villain plant!
No one is particularly surprised I have a super-villain plant.

My Desk at Work
I moved my desk again thanks to my manager who did me a great kindness and moved other people around.
Now I'm back at my old desk that I was moved from back in 2013.
It is a good location, with my team, and my old window.
So it is like coming home and I am very grateful and happy.

I was at this desk from 2009-2013.
When I was moving back in, I found an old drawing of Daya's from preschool!!!
It was still there!

Beach 2: Last Saturday Rob picked me up and we went on another Rob Improv Adventure. We ended up at Jones Beach which was so amazing and lovely. Neither of us was prepared but it didn't matter, we stood in the water, got wet, and had a nice walk.

We saw baby seagulls... really teeny ones.
They are the dots next to the big seagull.
They were so cute, especially flying together in a little clump.

Rob is a very don't-plan-in-advance person, probably in balance to all the planning he has to do at work. So he doesn't like to be bogged down having to think about more stuff.  I, also, have too much to think about and I don't want extra stuff to think about.  Which is why I never ask where we are going when he picks me up.  Actually, I don't care.  I'm up for almost anything, and the things I wouldn't want to do are the things Rob also wouldn't want to do.  Because I like spending time with him the destination is always secondary.

Rob cooked dinner which is always wonderful because he has kitchen skillz.

What I need, critically:
I need a break and a complete change of scenery.
I need a break from Daya and she needs a break from me.

We both need for her to be able to go somewhere for a week and I go somewhere else and we both reset and recalibrate. Decompress.

I am completely burned out and I can't seem to get to a reset-relaxation point anymore. At least I know why but there isn't a solution because I have nowhere to send Daya. It is the break and change of scenery that we both need, taking vacation days from work and staying home isn't going to do it.

Monday, July 10, 2017


I forgot to hit post on this one!
8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper

Thursday, July 06, 2017


Here's a quick painting I did tonight. Couple of hours. 

8x10 pastel on black Richeson sanded paper. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

How to Get Through the Summer

Carey and I aren't sure how we will get through July and August.
So I had a Great Idea.... the best way to make time go fast is when you have Deadlines.

So we have a 4 week project with deadlines every Saturday.
Hopefully this will make July go quickly.

Yesterday for the 4th of July we went to Coney Island because Rob wanted a hot dog from Nathan's. It was packed. We went on the Thunderbolt:

Rob said this was the ride to determine if he is too old for roller coasters.
The verdict is he is not too old.

The Cyclone is 90 years old and it is not too old either.  Daya didn't think the Cyclone was a big deal in line, but afterward she thought it was really scary. There's a reason there are so many copycat Cyclones!

The Cyclone has it's own Parks Department sign!

Rob has been on the Cyclone probably 75 times and he says he still gets scared before going on.

I was not scared.

Daya is not in camp this summer because I can't pay for dance and braces AND camp. So it is a bit of a tough summer.  I wish it was different but there's nothing I can do.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


There is a painter named Ryan O'Rourke who does 10 minute acrylic painting demos on youtube. And they are pretty good!  He knows his theory, he knows what he is doing, and his 10 minute paintings are pretty cool!

Doing timed paintings isn't a new concept.
A lot of people have done this as a way to practice and get the mind shifted into a different gear. Some people limit the number of brush strokes instead of time- for example, doing a painting in only 120 brush strokes.

Because I have a terrible obsession with oil paint and pastels, it stands to reason I am also fully stocked in acrylics which is good because when I need them I'm ready to go. Last night I brought out my acrylics and did a little 10 minute painting which took 14 minutes and 45 seconds.

It is such a small time investment, and truly a mental flip. While it will never replace longer studio paintings it really is fantastic artistic exercise. I guess these could also be done in pastel, and probably oil because nothing is impossible, but the acrylic drying time is a huge advantage with layering.

With this painting, I chose a color scheme ahead of time which was fun but also maybe not the best decision because I made the composition up as I went along.
It would have been better to know my composition beforehand.

This painting is not a good painting but I don't care. It was good practice and good to try something new. My coordination isn't there yet but with some practice it will be.

5x7 acrylic

Today is the summer solstice.
I'm going this afternoon to light soome candles.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Yellow Wood

Here is a painting I started a while ago. Last month probably.  It got finished Thursday night and I'm now just posting it.

9x12 pastel on Mi Tientes.(smooth side)
The paper is a lovely yellow ochre, pretty much the yellow of the sky though I put pastel over it.
I like working on different colored grounds.

This painting is a continuation of Adventures in Smooth Pastel Paper.  Mi Tientes is a smooth paper which I have so much of and always ignore in favor of my sanded and textured papers.  Smooth paper is just different but I'm working on making friends with it.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Flip: Broken

The theme Broken is in honour of Carey's fridge, which was in a broken state more than any fridge has a right to be.

ACEO 2.5x3.5 pastel on bristol with Golden pastel primer.


Carey's Fridge Tribute is here.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

4 Things

Thing 1
I'm still feeling better but it feels tenuous and fragile.
The noise from upstairs is a bad trigger, when it happens, and anticipating it,
I wish it wasn't and I don't know how to minimize how it affects me.

I got a really LOUD industrial floor fan, which Daya has named Fran.
I love Fran. Fran is awesome.

It all seems petty and silly and small and ridiculous until I search for solutions online and find so many other people who have the same intense reaction.

Thing 2
I have made a decision to not acknowledge Fathers Day.
The last time I saw my father was for a couple of hours four years ago.
We haven't had any contact since last October.
Daya also has no contact.  She stopped crying for him about it a year and a half ago and the last thing I need is to re-open that issue.  It was bad, very bad, for years.

It is obvious he has no interest whatsoever in any type of involvement in my life or Daya's, so I need to stop doing old habits and things which hurt me.  I have to let it go. I'm not angry, but I am sad. It is sad and anyone in my place would be sad about it because that is a normal human reaction.

For several years now I have been very seriously wondering if I will ever see him again.  As far as I know he is and has been in good health, and he lives the distance of a 2 hour flight away. I did tell him I would like to see him but all I got was a response that they are busy and have no plans to come up to the northeast.  I am not welcome to visit them. Daya went three years ago and they showed her a great time then never asked her back.

There is no relationship.  Everything about it from his end and mine is old and very outdated- nothing current because there has never been enough contact, no life overlap, and he isn't interested in building that. It is why the relationship failed. There is nothing of the present in it. So I'm done walking in old empty meaningless patterns.

I have come to the conclusion that I will probably not ever see him again though I would have chosen differently. One day I'll probably get a letter in the mail telling me he has passed on and I will not inherit anything. This is sad but I will let it be and let it go.

Thing 3
Daya is miserable because there is no dance for two weeks.
She is impatiently waiting for school to be over...June 29th I think is the last day.

We never got a pointe shoe email that her teacher said would be sent out right after recital. Daya's ballet teacher mentioned there is no reason Daya shouldn't be in pointe shoes, and she was going to talk to the prepointe teacher but we have heard nothing.  So Daya is dealing with failed expectations and extreme disappointment- some of them her own possibly of her own making and some were set by her teacher.  She just wants to know, she is a kid, she is excited, she has been working so very hard.

I told her to adjust her expectations to hear something around her birthday but Daya is a stubborn obsessive Scorpio (like me) and changing her mind is just hitting a big brick wall.

Thing 4
Today I am starting to go through A Course in Miracles.
It's something I have known about and been aware of for the last 20 years, and I studied it a little in seminary, but it never called to me.  Now it is.  Interestingly, I got both the physical copy and the audio copy for free, which I appreciate. So it is time I guess. I suspected one day it would be.

Monday, June 12, 2017


Today is the first day I have been feeling mostly back to normal since Memorial Day weekend  Two weeks ago.

Everything hit me in a big crashing wave over Memorial Day.  Just cumulative life stuff.  It was bad.  And that horrible anxiety chest/solar plexus pain came back...constant and intense. Today is the first day in two weeks I have gotten relief.

My upstairs neighbors were quiet for a while then started BLASTING their stupid party music...three days in a row....that was a week ago.
I spoke with the landlord.
The piano next door is still a huge bother.
There is stuff I have been sifting through about my father which I don't want to write about and it is sad stuff but not new or life-changing.
I lost my desk at work... I got displaced because of new people moving onto the floor.  My awesome sunny wonderful space that I loved so much.  I have a new desk and it is crappy and loud and the location is terrible.

This year in particular I have been really struggling with this awful painful chest anxiety- and it isn't something I can control at all.  Prayer and meditation doesn't help. Yoga doesn't help. Physical activity doesn't help.  Nothing helps.  Even spending time with Rob- nice good times- doesn't even relieve it.  It's just constantly there until it isn't, much like a physical injury which hurts until it doesn't anymore.

I'm at such a loss of how to deal with it, and it lasts for such a long time- weeks.

Perhaps I'm just at a point of being completely worn down and I don't have any internal buffering or stamina left.  That happens to bodies physically from trauma/wear, so it makes sense it can happen internally as well. 
I think that is what has happened.

Daya did amazing at her recital.
We still haven't heard about her pointe shoes and she is miserable.
The girls she is with in dance have not been very nice to her lately.
I hate that she is miserable.
Sometimes she takes her misery out on me and sometimes she looks for connection.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

FLIP: Shoes

Poor Daya has been pining for pointe shoes- badly.  She still has to wait a little while, we are waiting on teacher approval, but I gave her this painting for her room, so she has her own pair of pointe shoes like only her mom can make.  :)

9x12 pastel (mostly Unisons) on pastelmat (it was grey)
About 2 1/2 hours

What a surprise this morning, my pastel plein air painting from a couple of weeks ago was featured iin a Sennelier article!! Wow!!  Thank you Sennelier!
(they also called me young so I love them)

I'm telling you, my pet Central Park raccoon was good luck!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Remove the Blockades!

It happened right in front of my office, and we were on emergency lockdown.
It was a horrible thing for sure but now, Tuesday, the New Years blockades are still up and there is a group of armed police with huge guns standing outside.

Take the New Years Blockades Down!

What happened was awful but there is absolutely no need for this nonsense.
It was such a freak thing- a guy bent on a suicide mission taking people with him. An American from the Bronx who wanted the cops to shoot him.

Times Square is a really safe place..... what that Bronx guy did could not be predicted nor prevented and these blockades just promote some kind of police-state fear mentality.

Security here has always been amazing.
Freak things can happen. ANYWHERE.
Driving on the highway is a very dangerous thing to do--- far more so than walking around in Times Square.

Besides, the blockades are only on one block...someone could drive up 8th ave and do the same thing.  You can't blockade the whole city nor is there any reason to.

This stuff happens all over the country--- hell, all over the world.....and I dislike anything that promotes irrational fear and underlying panic. And traffic jams.

Times Square is no less safe because of one person's stupid suicide attempt.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pastel Paper Test

I have been working on sanded paper so much lately, especially for plein air.  The Richeson sanded paper I love so much is really gritty.  It is a lot grittier than Colourfix and even Uart.

Sanded papers are great because they take so many layers- which is good- but when I was out painting the other day I was thinking about clouds on sandpaper vs a smooth paper.

I have a whole lot of nice pastel papers (all surfaces) but in particular I haven't been such great friends with Mi Tientes.  But there are effects that night be easier with a smooth paper, though it definitely doesn't take the layers.

Here is a little experiment just for workflow and feel.
Less than a half hour.

9x12 pastel on gray Mi Tientes, smooth side.

For mother's day I did 5 loads of laundry.
Daya didn't acknowledge the day at all, which honestly would have been nice but that's how it goes, and these kinds of society-attention days shouldn't matter.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

FLIP: Spike

Once every several years or so I get a short-lived but intense urge to use watercolor.

I always start out well enough, nice and light and transparent- and then I muck the whole thing up.  This got mucked up mostly because I changed my mind about the colors, and you can't really do that with watercolor without having to start over.

But then Carey moved and we took a Flip break and during that time my watercolor urge passed. I didn't worry too much about the mucky state of the painting because that's why I have clear gesso, which is lovely and toothy under pastels.

5x7 watercolor and pastel (mungyo semi-hards)
on watercolor paper (strathmore for the paper geeks)