topiary cats

topiary cats

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Acrylic Glazing Pitfalls

So, I learned from the Aloysious painting that if you need to glaze acrylic paint over a dark background, the thing to do is not do it.  Just don't. Ever. Mix your colors with black and paint direct, then apply straight color over that if you need to make it stand out a little more.

Not only will you accomplish the effect in a fraction of the time, (2 layers!) it will actually look the way you intended it to look.

If you really feel the need to glaze in acrylic for something other than minor touch-up, do it over a light background.

Here is Lucky, Branwen's cat who passed away in September.
I wanted to do matching Rainbow Bridge portraits for Drusilla and Branwen.
This weekend I will see Branwen and I'll give her the painting.

Lucky was much more cooperative than Aloysious...probably because he is a cat and they enjoy being admired.

5x7 acrylic on canvas panel

It's so hard to get a good photo.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Street Fair Dance & Box Update

Last night Daya had the annual holiday street performance thingy.
Their dance was a minute and 40 seconds long, according to Daya.

I didn't get a video but here are some pics.

She's wearing my jacket (which I have never worn, hmmm).
I found it years ago in a discount store, it was about $8 i think.
It looks good on Daya so I gave it to her.


Ben was able to fix my box!! I'm so happy! He is shipping it back to me so I'll be able to put it back to work very soon!!

From what he said, the crack probably started years ago and finally just gave in.  Ben said there was paint in about 1/3 of the crack, so it had definitely been developing over time.  He reinforced the back and put new hinges on, and it should be good to go for many more years!

I have said it before and I'll say it again... Ben Haggett makes the BEST plein air boxes.  Yes you'll pay for it but they are all handmade and designed by him.  Worth every penny. The design is brilliant, they are beautiful, and my box is the only one he ever had to fix like this. (figures) He has also tweaked the Belly River design to fix the weak points over the years.  Ben has been making boxes for 10 years and he made mine 7 years ago. I have made a point to be gentle with my box, but it has been out and about with me a whole lot.  Things happen. It has fallen over a few times. Used art supplies are loved art supplies, and I have certainly loved my box!!

Ben is also a really good painter, too.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Tree & Boxes & I'm Here

Three people contacted me today to say "Are you still on Planet Earth?"

I'm not, I'm in Skyrim (because they released Skyrim Special Edition which is a graphics overhaul on a game that was already gorgeous to begin with and now it is gorgeouser!)

Thank you Three People!  (Two of you read my blog.)

1. Thanksgiving was lovely.
Rob joined us at Jackie's and we all had a nice afternoon/evening.

2. Friday we put up the tree.  Rob came over and joined us for that. too and I'm happy he visited.

3. Last night (Saturday) Rob took me to see a play (two short ones actually) in Soho and we had a lovely evening. One of the plays was absolutely brilliant, I have never seen anything like it.  It is called The Stronger by a Swedish playwright August Strindberg.

4.  Today Daya went to the doctor and got a shot which lasted all of three seconds and she thinks it was the Worst Life Experience Ever.

5.  I started and finished a painting, more on that later.

6. I got 2 boxes in the mail today, one large and one less-large.  I unpacked them and put the smaller box inside the larger box and the cats are obsessed.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Aloysius Re-Work

When Dru came to visit she brought the painting of Aloysius back so I could put him in a rainbow instead of a black hole.

I put some more color layers on. This painting is stubborn and will not photograph well.

Because acrylic dries darker and can be somewhat transparent...(actually because it has a lower pigment load than I am accustomed to with oils and pastel), I should have worked the rainbow over a grey background instead of black.  It would have worked better.

Pastels are AMAZING over a black support.  
Acrylics might be too but it takes a lot more work to get the effect.
This is how we learn.

I had to prop the painting up at an angle with bits of kneaded eraser and photograph it at an angle because Dru said to do that and she was correct.

5x7 acrylic on canvas panel

Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Virgin Mary Stole My Pencil

She really did.

Here's how it happened.

Yesterday I went to a drawing event at The Morgan Library with Drawing New York.
(fantastic group by the way)

There is a Memling room.
I LOVE Memling so I decided to hang out there and draw.

I decided to draw the Virgin Mary.
Here she is on the right. Isn't she stunning?

Hans Memling, oil on panel, 1400s

So I was drawing and out of nowhere, all of a sudden, my pencil just flew out of my hand.
It happened in a split second, it was so surreal.  I watched as it flew out of my hand, across the floor, and went under the pedestal which encases the Memling paintings.

Right under.
It went right under.


No way.

I tried to get it out but could not.

Now, This was in a small gallery room with a lot of traffic.
The gallery filled up again.
I resigned my nice charcoal pencil for lost, and I kept drawing.
This also made me paranoid for my other pencils, so I roll-proofed them with bits of kneaded eraser.

Roll-Proofed Pencils

But I could not get it out of my head.
So, when the gallery emptied out again, I used the flashlight in my phone to see the pencil in a tiny crack between the floor and pedestal.

It is a good thing I have no shame.

There it was. Out of reach.

Oh, Virgin Mary, you do not need my pencil!! I thought you were supposed to be NICE.
I thought about my pencil, never again to be sharpened, never again to be used, away from its friends, still there in the Morgan Library under a pedestal ten years from now.

So sad.

Then the gallery cleared out again and I started thinking---the pedestal really wasn't very large and paper fits under there.

I tried the museum booklet.  Nope.

Then...I got Extremely Clever.
I remembered that I had more paper and white artists' tape, because I never leave home without it.

So I taped three sheets of Strathmore Artagain paper together, slid it under the side of the pedestal, AND I GOT MY PENCIL BACK!!!

White Artists' Tape to the rescue!

Lessons Learned:
1. NEVER leave home without white artists' tape.
2. Watch out for the Virgin Mary; she steals pencils.

Oh, here is the drawing I did, about an hour and a half.
Charcoal pencils on some nice gray Strathmore paper.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A Smelly Story

The other day I was walking home from work, and I was on my block- almost home.
A couple was walking together in front of me, and he was holding a pizza from Dominoes. *****
I could smell it but I didn't think anything of it.

There is a group of teenagers who live a few buildings down, and they were walking behind me and talking loudly.

They, too, smelled the pizza. They started talking about it, LOUDLY.
"I smell pizza! It STINKS! It must be that nasty Dominoes crap! GROSS!"

They then spied the couple walking ahead of me.

"Oh! You're right!  Look, that guy has a nasty pizza! EEWWW!!!"

And they kept going on about it until they turned into their building.

Now, I KNOW that couple heard them. The whole block heard them!
That poor guy who probably just bought dinner to enjoy with his girlfriend, getting trashed by those teenagers!

***** Dominoes is not real food, let alone pizza.
We do have a good pizzeria a block away, and they do an excellent pie.  So I don't know why anyone would go to Dominoes. This is something I truly don't understand, not here in NYC where we have the nice local pizzerias everywhere. They make everything there from scratch. I agree with the teenagers- GROSS!

For your visual reference, this is what a good plain slice looks like:

This is what a fake plain slice looks like:

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Daya is 11 years old today!
She has been very excited for her birthday.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016


It is dark and rainy today.
I am not feeling well, am fighting off a minor 24-hour cold.
Yesterday I slept all day and all night and I'm definitely on the mend but my energy is very low.

Layoffs are happening at work which is always super scary.
Three of my friends are gone, one on my team and it's hard to not feel down and worried about it. Layoffs really scare me.

Nothing seems stable.

I know that the days go on, we have to make the best of things and just carry on with positive intent but it does seem to me that things are getting harder and harder as the years go by.  There is so much social unrest and it is magnified by the election outcome, and also being here in NYC.

The cost of living outpaces salaries.

Everyone is throwing so much hate around.

It seems like everything is stacked against us.

I don't like to get involved in this stuff as it is all dangerous insanity but I still have to walk through the environment where everyone is caught in extreme madness.

I don't have the motivation to paint and that's frustrating too.

Maybe I'll feel better when I get my energy's days like today that I am in touch with how much long-term stress I am carrying, and it is from factors I cannot change. Absence of core relationships, raising a child alone...I can't change these things; I can only shoulder them because I have no choice. I can only try and keep up with emptying out the constant filling of stress.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Box Update

Rob says the hinges are special hinges and he has never seen them before.
I emailed Ben asking if I can send the box to him. Waiting to hear back.

We saw Dr Strange last night; it was very good.
It is amazing how people can't go through a movie without having to check their phones.
So rude.

I do have an iPhone and so does Daya, but honestly this cell phone thing is out of hand.

And on that note Jackie and I have been talking about this lately...
Facebook is not a substitute for getting in touch with people.
Generic Facebook posts saying you are having a party are not actual invitations.
Texting is not a substitute for talking to someone.

That's something I like about Rob, he's not a phone addict. (He also has an iPhone)
He's also not into texting and that's absolutely fine with me because we can easily be on the phone talking for 2 hours and I prefer that.

Plus it is nice to spend time with someone without phones being present.

All these cell phones and social has changed our brains and how we communicate and I don't think for the better.

Friday, November 11, 2016


I'm feeling very gloomy today and I know why.
I don't know how to fix it though. There isn't anything I can do.

I threw out a prayer for help the other day and I took a nice long mid-morning nap (I am off work today) and I had a dream about Archangel Gabriel.

When Archangels show up it is best to pay attention.
So now I have to learn about and figure out how to work with Gabriel.

I don't really understand why Gabriel showed up, as s/he is a messenger and is more about announcements and taking action on projects and leadership. My issue does not fall into those categories.

Rafael I would understand.
Gabriel I do not understand.


I was going to go out painting but was undecided because we have 40mph wind gusts.
Wind is a plein air painter's worst enemy.

Daya is home today and she was griping about being lonely so I didn't rush to go out.
Then I woke up and was really going to go out but now it is too late because the cemetery closes at 5 and it is after 2 and that's where I want to go.

I unpacked my Belly River box from my backpack and opened it to make sure I didn't leave anything in there.

Now, I am really careful with that box. I have been using it for years and I treat it well.
The hinges have been a little sticky but I went to open the box as I normally do and the wood completely split off and the hinges will not move at all.

There are no words, I am so upset!!

I emailed Ben Haggett, and I'll ask Rob if he will have a look at it since he is a master (for real) carpenter and all...he knows wood....I'm hoping Rob will help because otherwise I'll send it to Ben but I don't want to be apart from my box because I use it all the time!!


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Two Stories

I took this picture on the way home from dance last night.
See those splotchy red marks near Daya's eye and down her cheek?

I asked her what happened.
Did she get hurt in class?
Guess what happened.
Go ahead, guess.


She kicked herself in the face.
This is one of the hazards of being very bendy.

Most people who know me know I love my hot baths.
And it is definitely hot bath season.

A couple of days ago I ran a perfect hot bath.
The water temperature was perfect.
The steam level in the bathroom was perfect.
The fragrance from my candle was perfect.
My rose face mask was perfect.
I even brought some chocolate with me.

It was a perfect spa experience.

Daya knocked on the door.
"Mom I have to go potty!"

Me: "It had better not be No. 2!"
Her: "It is!"
Me: "No. There is no way you are stinking up my perfect spa.  Not happening. You will have to wait."
Her: "What? Mom!!"
Me: "I'm serious. No."

And I really did make her wait.

This just goes to show that kids, even as they age, always seem to master the Worst Timing Ever.  
It never ever fails and they don't grow out of it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Sorry World

In the war over land where the world began
Prophecies say it's where the world will end
But there's a tremor growing in our own backyard
Fear in our heads, fear in our hearts
Prophets in the graveyard
Indigo Girls

Dear World,
I'm sorry that my country voted for fear and hatred.
I guess the environment has been ripe for it with all the years of media fear-mongering and economic hardship.
And Brexit.

There is no "evil external force" influencing our acts towards one another- it is humans behaving as humans do to each other and all that entails, all that is capable of, for better or worse. We have such a broad spectrum within us. There are angels and they will help us if we ask.

As a race we have to start owning it instead of passing it off to externalized forces created to relinquish personal responsibility and keep a select few in control.  I think this will take a long time but we have already come a long way.  Humanity moves on an individual personal level and also on a collective level.

We are all individually responsible for treating each other with basic regard at the least, and hopefully kindness. The results of an election should not change that.

Things might get pretty real, the only thing we can really do is just keep doing what we are doing and don't get personally infected by this madness. Stay safe, happy painting, meditating, yoga-ing, writing, gardening, whatever it is that you do which brings joy to you and others around you.

The Universal Law is impartial. 
It will give you anything you believe. 
It will throw you garbage or roses 
depending on the energy you put in. 
You are the one in charge, 
and you must accept that and stand alone. 
If you think God is coming down to fix things for you, 
forget it. 
God is out playing golf.
-Stuart Wilde

The Light shines in the darkness, 
and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John 1:5

There is nothing good or bad, 
only thinking makes it so.
Tao Te Ching

The election is only four years- 
Fouettes are forever!
Shauna Sorenson

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

It's Almost Over

I cannot wait until this horrible election is over.

School is out, I still had to go to work, but I woke Daya up so she could vote with me. I wanted her to experience the process.

I let her fill in some circles and put the ballot in the scanner.

She got two stickers.

I thought about taking a picture and I'm not sure why I didn't but I really should have.

Anyhow, it is a dreadful horrible election and I'm so done with all of it....... in December or so I'll have a look at all the people I unfollowed on Facebook and re-follow them.  Many of them are really good artists I respect a lot.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Cemetery Dust

Yesterday I went to one of our local cemeteries to paint.  I love going there; it is so peaceful and serene.  The grounds are well-kept and it is a beautiful place.  Autumn colors were on display, too.

It didn't take me too long to find a spot...I knew going in that I wanted to do a statue...and I found this statue of Archangel Michael with a foliage backdrop.

I'm not very good at painting foliage, it messes me up every time.

The light on the statue kept changing every 4 minutes or so...

And I took this picture of my setup, then the wind came and knocked over my gear.  That was the second time I have blown over, and it was only because of my stupid umbrella which I had to stop using. I'm very glad the grass was dry because that would have been deadly for my pastels.  only one broke which is no big deal and I collected all of them safe and sound.

Stupid wind.

8x10 pastel, about 2 hours.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Daya was some sort of ghosty thing with chains for Halloween.
What it was really all about was the Grim Reaper Scythe...she wanted one of those and the costume was secondary.

I had an AWESOME makeup look planned that she told me I could do, and then she was so uncooperative I got mad and gave up. She was on her own.

So she looks good but not great like she would have if she kept her promise and let me do her makeup.

We made out extremely well with the chocolate-haul.  Daya weighed it at 4lbs.