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The Blank Canvas

I have been keeping myself from painting any new paintings.

For the past several years in “forced retirement” taking care of my husband who has early onset dementia, I have been on a self quest to learn to paint which has led to a collection of stacks of paintings ranging from beautiful… finished, mostly finished, and ugly as sin acrylic and oil paintings.  So, I’ve been taking all of those old paintings and scraping off the old paint and repainting.

But, I’ve been missing the hope and possibility in the fresh start to a brand new blank canvas begun painting.  I’ve been imagining myself painting on this fresh white canvas this morning.   I will, as I always do, study lots of pictures and look around at real life shape and shadows and I will explore the color temperature in everything.  And I hope to get right on the canvas what starts appearing in my heart and mind.  Over the years I have had the opportunity of time to be able to explore who I am as an artist, and to learn from others, but mostly to learn from the experience of doing it.  That makes me excited to start a new painting on a brand new blank white canvas today.

I won’t only be painting, but also videotaping it for my new Patreon account to show my creative process.

I love the white canvas.  I start imagining how the brush, fully loaded with color, will glide and dobble and scrumble and what the mist of water might do and the accidental blemishes where colors collide that end up being part of the beauty.  Many artists begin with painting a “ground” of a yellowish paint all over their canvas.  But, I like to begin with the white.

I am inspired to create where there are possibilities:

A blank canvas, a blank page,

January 1,  a shiny kitchen sink,

A freshly sharpened pencil,

All school Supplies but especially the crayons and the box of watercolor paint,

My IPad Pro,

Sunrises,

Sunsets,

and God’s Hill Country of Texas.

 

 

 

Dusty Path, Acrylic on Paper 9×16

Pathway Painting

In the scene I am currently painting… the rain clouds just left and the side of the road has become a temporary stream. Originally I painted this with grass in the foreground, then I just had to make water appear there which is what happens right now in all of my landscape pathways. I think it is a reminder that though I might be traveling on a seemingly unendingly difficult path, refreshment is provided.

My method is to paint and put aside the painting… I’ve done that for the past several years… it may not be a good method, because that way I have stacks of paintings – mostly finished, some signed, but they are going nowhere.

It’s okay, though, I catch myself a little break. I like this pathway painting, the subject matter was out of my morning thoughts. And, I am happy to put it in the pile of all of the others.

Psalm 16:11

Caregiving Vignettes “Reading with Dementia”

My husband’s Alzheimer’s and bvFTD dementia doesn’t keep him from reading, but it does keep him from understanding. He will pour over the morning paper. This morning, being Sunday, we are reading yesterday’s paper, with no complaint from him, since he cannot remember reading it yesterday. He maintains the posture and the seemingly interested voracious reader he once was when he would read encyclopedic books of world history… for fun.

His former self, smart guy, lawyer, he’d stay up late at night reading, reading… I used to put my knuckle in one ear and push my other hard into the pillow with the sheet over my head so I could block out the book light and sound of the pages swishing across the front of his chest.

So now he reads really just anything. He can still read out loud and you’d think he knew what he could comprehend because he can read it. Yesterday he was reading a local phone book that came in the mail. The pages he was reading was full of names and phone numbers. But, if you didn’t know what it was you might think it was a law book.

The “reading” keeps him mesmerized. He loves the pictures of little children and babies our local small town paper always highlights. He usually shows them to me with a sloppy grin on his face. In his previous life he wasn’t so interested in the sweet things. Pretty soon he will get up and ask me to help him turn his television on.

In the above image foreground sits my portable table easel and it speaks for itself.

Today I plan to launch my Patreon account where I will show my current paintings, poems, and short stories. Because in the midst of the dementia care, I art.

Caregiving Vignettes: “Playing Games with Dementia”

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This is the bottom of one of my clay owls. I think serendipitous moments are my fave

Caregiving Vignettes:  “Playing Games with Dementia”

We include my husband with board games though he can’t actually play. Since games are supposed to be fun family time, our way of playing does indeed fill that need.  He makes up all his own rules and we just let him. We have fits of giggles.

I sold the above clay owl for eight dollars at a local market. Sometimes I wonder why even bother with the art… how long it took me to form and paint and finish the little guy. But he was a moment of serendipity.

We played a game of scrabble where my husband played his words sideways and he didn’t mind that we kept removing his letters so we could play all our high scoring words .  We are serious scrabble players  and have many hours logged of family time in scrabbledom over the years.

These are moments of serendipity and craziness.  But when I consider my poor husband’s brain that seems so scrambled now… these times also bittersweet times for me

 

 

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Paint Pour Splash on hardboard

 

Caregiving Vignettes “Watering the Garden with Dementia”

I put homemade pumpkin muffins in the oven this morning.

Yes, it’s too early for Fall, but to me, after school starts at the end of August, all bets are off.  Summer, go away.  I have my warm pumpkin muffins and my pumpkin candle from Bath and Body.  That makes it Fall here.  Never mind that we are still having 96 degree days.

My husband asks if he can water the garden though I know he doesn’t really water it.  It doesn’t matter, it gives him something to do.  And, since I have been a horrible gardener – perhaps consciously killing off the whole entire thing – I let him go out there and give it a go.  I think he’s kept the last tomato plant and peppers as well as the Rosemary alive by watering it a little.  Mostly he walks around and waters wherever he’s standing in the grass.

I peeked out at him from the kitchen window where I was washing the breakfast dishes and I could hear the loud sound of the water on full blast.  He had the spray up at the highest up over the fence, watering the live oak tree in the field behind our house.

The pumpkin muffins were good, warm and gooey just out of the oven.

 

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The little blue clay owl I made is thinking about whether he ought to jump into the hole I drew.  I used to make these little clay owls and for awhile I was interested in anamorphic art.  So, I drew this little hole just to try it out.  Faked that owl right out didn’t I?

Caregiving Vignettes “On our Toes”

Like the little owl, I sometimes am on edge.  Maybe because I have to “stay on my toes”, alert, at the ready.  That’s why it is good we can get some time off, the thing that in caregiving lingo they call “respite”.

Respite Care for him

We get respite care at our neighborhood adult day care center three times a week. Most of the attendees there are in their 80’s and 90’s.  But, then there’s my husband who is just 70 years old.  They play games, make seasonal crafts, sing songs (which is his favorite), and listen to music.  He begins getting excited about going there but not necessarily in a nice way.  It’s more in a keyed up way.  And, when he’s there he’s keyed up about when I’m picking him up.  So, He’s keyed up all the way there and then worn out and frustrated from having been there on the way home.  But, it is respite for us.  It means my daughter and I can get lunch out.

The Spa … for me?

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have him go to respite care and for me to go to the spa with massage hot tub and facial.  I really ought to book myself such an adventure.

But, what I normally do is run around and do the errands I can’t do when I have him with me (and did I mention I cannot leave him home alone and neither can I leave him with our daughter). I enjoy grocery shopping by myself.  I will spend an hour in the grocery store.  It takes that long to be a smart shopper.  But, possibly I just like it there.  They play the best music and there are all those possibilities of me being a budding gourmet chef right in my own kitchen.

Then I come home and paint or right now fiddle with the Patreon account I am creating where I will upload videos of my creative process involved in my paintings.  I like being at home with him gone.  It seems so peaceful.  Sometimes I almost forget to pick him up.

I count my blessings about the respite center and I tell that little shiny blue owl to step away from the edge.  That hole might be deep.

Caregiver: “A Morning in the Life of a Caregiver”

I’m painting and my husband is reading the paper. He can still read. He will read out loud to me as I am painting which is good for me. I have gotten so used to his dementia. Only, with his dementia, he has no ability to know what he is reading. But he reads with feeling as I am in the middle of painting this imagined pathway that I have worked on off and on for awhile.

He has asked about five times what we are doing today. I just say, well, I’m painting and you are reading the paper. He’s ok with that. We have our morning rhythm.

The Pathway I’m on

Then, I walk down this pathway as I often do in my paintings. I love the experience of doing that and wonder if other artists do that too or am I just getting a little “teched”. While I am “in” the painting, I decide there have to be shadows along the white dusty road but I do like how it is reflecting the light from the after storm clouds and the clouds are wanting some smoothing. I love the feel and look in the just after the storm passed time. I want to put that feeling here.

I was given this high need to paint not too long after my husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. The desire to paint was a gift just at the right time which I know was sent by God.

Selling my paintings?

The painting of beach scenes and pathways soothes me and right now I don’t really care about selling them yet. I’m looking to make my paintings right in my own estimation.

I will be making my Patreon account public that I have been working on creating. I’ve been working on it each day. Patreon is a place for artists who share their art with patrons who support that artist. I intend to provide videos of myself painting and talking about my life and my painting process. And, eventually I plan to provide prints of my paintings for my patrons who support me. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to do a good video. I want the videos to be artistic and enjoyable to watch.

The storm is passing

After I snapped the above picture of my painting before I added additional rocks and let the water spill over the front right rock formation. I often will put water in my paintings as if it has just collected in a place after a big storm has passed over. It is a peaceful feeling with sweetness in the air.

And, my husband folds up his paper, puts on his Bluetooth earphones, and says, “Now I exit stage left”.

Sweet Heavy Captivating Peaches on a Branch, Acrylic on Canvas

Caregiving Vignettes: “How long, Dementia?

How long do we have?

Isn’t it what anyone wants to know who has been stricken with a debilitating disease? One with no hope for a cure? One with no drugs that actually work? I use the word “stricken”, not to overstate, and not to overdramatize. The actual meaning is to be seriously affected by an undesirable condition or unpleasant feeling. I think we were all stricken by my husband’s dementia.

His neurologist could not answer the question. “There’s no way to tell, actually, because it is different for each person.” I could tell she liked neither the question nor giving the answer. I felt bad for asking.

Is there an answer?

There is a progression.

Well there are what’s called “stages”. Some experts use the three stages to describe a demented patient – basically giving the illness a beginning, middle, and an end. Then there is the seven stage model with what to expect at each and about how long each stage lasts. But, with the caveat that the person might exhibit them in a different order or a different timeframe. I won’t list those different stage models. But you can take a quick google on the matter. It’s super easy to find.

I am no scientist but I can observe and compare like a scientist. Surely, I can observe and compare like an artist. Possibly there is an answer to that difficult question. Everyone caring for a person with dementia has a story to tell and if we talk about what we are going through, like I am here, perhaps there are some comparisons to be drawn and some answers.

My husband first showed symptoms (though I didn’t know what it was!) of bvFTD (behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia in his late 50’s. He’s now nearly 71.

I will tell, in very very short, the very beginning of his story and then in other blog posts I will add to it because it is just way too much information.

My husband was the senior partner in his law firm. He began slowly having a change in his personality. No memory problems. No other problems. He just was not the same person anymore. He was making uncharacteristic decisions. Only I noticed it, but then, I am his wife. But, it was nearly a decade from when I first began to notice the few subtle changes before his actual diagnosis of bvFTD.

Why? Why do I want to share this? It’s because this very personal information that I have held so closely for so long is exactly what I was searching for.

The answer is, it’s in the story. We are still living it, so I will tell it as it goes.

3E5B04FC-CF32-4AE8-8E7F-00610231D958Sometimes the caregiving goes haywire… but my kitchen coffee station (above) always stays cute!

Caregiving Vignettes – “The Art of Perfection”

Within minutes of posting my previous blog, where I explain how I found a nice little solution to a relatively minor problem with my husband, who has dementia, being unable to find the coffee creamer.  And what happens next?  It’s always something around here that will rise up and call me out. Call it, “the cream”.

After  I literally push the “publish” button,  and after I verbally walk him through, again, that the coffee creamer has a big red lid and is emblazoned with “coffee creamer” on the top…  as if I totally know what I’m doing…

What does he do?

He pours JUST a big mug of the creamer and starts chugging it down.

Today is Monday, the beginning our our school week. I go against the grain of everyone I meet because I like Monday. I like Mondays, the beginning of school, and the beginning of a new year. I’m sure you have solved a not so difficult mystery about me here… I like new beginnings. What’s tough on me is there was no apparent begin to the dementia. It’s like dementia on my nice neat “perfect” life schedule is something that jumped in and the door closed with fire shooting in after it.

Today I have plans to take one of my beach scene or path scene paintings, not sure which one, and do those important final strokes… I say “strokes” – sometimes I end up painting completely over… anyhow, I will try to keep my cool… and sign each one. I was watching a YouTube painter who talked about how he finally gets done with a painting and then he signs it, the last time he touches the brush to the canvas.

Me, I’ve painted over my signature even. I will try to be less ruthless, but I cut myself a break because I do paint as therapy. So, if I do I will realize just how less expensive the paint is than an actual therapist. I have stacks and stacks of paintings. And, stacks.

Today is a new day. We get a new one every day.

“Standing at the Ocean’s Edge, My Toes Squished in the Sand”,  Acrylic on Canvas

 

Caregiving Vignettes:  “How His Dementia Delusions Have Progressed Over Time”

The first signals of my husband’s dementia were a change in his personality.  I didn’t know what was wrong with him. And, it wasn’t all the time.  You know, it’s kinda like you take your car to the shop and tell the guy about the problem your car is having… only it is making that clunking sound… sometimes.  Of course he will drive your car around the block and call you to report that it didn’t happen.  That happened with my car a couple years ago and I told my dad about it.  My car was actually cutting out and sometimes if came to a complete stop.  I took him out driving with me to show him what it was doing and when the engine cut out completely and I had to restart it at a busy intersection my dad said calmly in his low gravely voice “Ok, now, let’s drive on down and take the first left.”  He was giving me directions to drive right to the auto dealer to get me a new car.

Well, you can’t trade your husband in with intermittent behavioral symptoms though I am sure that there are many who want to because sometimes they seem temporarily intermittently insane.

Behavioral frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), as opposed to the more common Alzheimer’s, doesn’t cause memory loss in the beginning. Through my research on dementia, I find that the bottom line if there is one is… different people experience the progression differently. I will try to briefly outline here the progress of his bvFTD from the beginning so that there can be something perhaps to compare to.  There are so many areas of progression but I will begin with delusions. So, this blog post will be one of several covering the different areas of his life that have been effected by his dementia.

Progression over time of my husband’s delusions:

Delusions have been from the very beginning. In 2006, I thought the fears he was experiencing was because he was captivated by the tenor of the right wing news he had begun watching involving the presidential election.  We couldn’t even discuss politics any more after that and I happened to be a registered independent yet with conservative views.  Before that, he was a democrat.  Not any more.  He became a right winger.  He went from liberal democrat to right wing conservative.  He passed out at the office and was carried out on a stretcher shouting “Don’t let Obama kill me”.  Everyone was gathered around and a little snicker went around.  But, it made me mad.  Of course I didn’t know he had a debilitating brain disease that was beginning to take hold of his personality and behavior.  The passing out was because he drank too much alcohol and not enough water.

In 2014, when his delusions became more frequent and dominant, he still had the ability to go on his computer and his tablet and his cellular phone where he was researching electric bicycles.  In 2015 when he had to give up driving, he developed a strong delusion that we were opening up an electric bicycle shop and had shipments in our garage.  Having the delusions is one thing, but what they did to our family is another.  He was on the lookout for the bicycle shipments, and thought I was withholding information from him.  So he was angry at me about it and that led to him thinking I was against him.

He is more confused about reality now than delusional, athough yesterday he thought we had some GI’s that would be joining us for dinner.  Is that delusional?  I don’t know, I’m no expert.  It’s weird stuff for sure that we deal with on a daily basis.  My daughter answered him, “Oh, that’s so nice.  Maybe you’d like to go rest up while you wait.” And, when he came in for dinner it was all forgotten.  She’s homeschooling 11th grade and getting on the job dementia psychology training, I think.  Well done.

In 2017 he began a confusion with memories of his time aboard the Forrestal, a ship during VietNam that caught fire.  It was big.  But my husband’s memories became larger than the already big catastrophe.  He became more and more confused about his war service.  He began wearing his father’s army war medals from WW2  on his shirt.   I figured out it was best to take away all of the war memorabilia because it caused him so much continued suffering, especially that it caused him to repeat events that didn’t even happen to him.  He stopped this dreadful memory pattern right away when I finally figured out this was happening.

Most of the delusions seem to be a result of actual problems in his life.  I think he possibly invents the delusion to help him get through.  The delusions, however, cause him greater anxiety and creates a difficult living atmosphere (to say the least).

I wrote a blog post on “The Yellow Book” that describes how it has been a helpful tool to us through many of these difficult times.

I was thinking recently that it’s good he has us to take care of him.  What would happen to him otherwise?  I wonder how many people with behavioral dementia just get thrown on the junk heap like a defunct automobile.  I wonder how many of them are on the street, severely alcoholic.  I wonder how many seem like they are mentally ill.

Can’t just trade ‘em in.

I was also thinking… always thinking!… that it’s good we have him to take care of.  One day I will write about that.  But, be looking for blog posts related to his dementia progression over the years.

 

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The Orange Road, Acrylic on Canvas

The above painting is in my pathways collection where I explore visually the idea of continuing by faith on a path.  Here I imagine that this person has been driving for some time and it’s the end of the day when the golden hour of sunlight spills into the scene as it does each evening at the golden hour, filling all it touches.

Caregiving Vignette:  “Respite on The Weary Road”

Sometimes the road is weary.  What do you do when you are a passenger in a car and feel motion sickness? The road winds and you do too. When I was about seven I packed my colorbook and crayons for a cross country road trip, imagining coloring up an entire book, but I probably made it through one page when I learned  the definition of “carsick”.   If I think about it now I can remember the smell of crayola mixed with stationwagon seat vinyl and then the smell of melted crayons because I put them on top of my suitcase in the sunshine.  For years after I had a red Samsonite hard-sided suitcase with lovely melted crayons imprinted.

After I already feel that initial quease set in there is no relief  possible by looking forward at the horizon which is the suggested fix. There’s nothing better than being able to get out of the car. Nothing stops the feeling of great unease after it has begun welling.  Nothing but the car stopping. I’d try with my seven year old self to look so hard up ahead and keep my gaze fixed but it just didn’t work for me.

Taking breaks along the way helps and it helps for the road of caregiving dementia.

They call a caregiver break “respite care” in caregiver lingo.

A quick dictionary search defines respite as a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.

We have a place in our town that that gives respite.  It’s called “The Take 5 Club”  where I take my husband three times a week giving me a five hour break. It is $35.00 per day.  The alternative is to have a home care service which is $20 an hour with a for a four hour minimum.  What I like about the home caregiver is they clean while they are here. But it’s $80.00 and I feel forced out of the house.  And, sometimes I just want to be at home without him here. I am needing a longer respite and am checking into that now. My next post will be the results of my research.

 

 

 

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What Path, Success, Acrylic on Canvas

The painting above is one in a series where I was exploring artistically the idea of paths, and in each painting I was reflecting on the two paths in Matthew 7 that Jesus describes.

I like to paint a path that goes around a bend and you have no idea how difficult that path may be but there is a glimpse of color in the sky if you look up. A sunset usually appears in my paintings even if I start out with a nice blue sky with perfect fluffy clouds. Invariably, I paint over it. I do the same with placid ocean scenes as find myself painting, in the end, a stormy scene with crashing waves against rocks. Drama. But it does seem peaceful and cathartic to me for some reason. Sometimes when I paint, I imagine myself there in the painting, looking around, experiencing it. Weird, or funny? Once I wrote a child’s book and sent to my grandson of how I climbed into a path scene painting and at the end of the path I could see the ocean where I picked up a shell off the beach and brought it back to show him. So I gave him the book with some shells to make it seem like the story might be real.

I feel that being a caregiver is like being on that rocky and dimly lit path that has a beautiful colorful hopeful sky so I look up and keep my faith and hope for a beautiful beach.

Caregiving Vignette: “Refined”

My mother has taught me to first simplify, then refine.

This works in every area of life. I sometimes get lost in the details and it keeps me from getting the job done.

At home, “everything has a place” goes with the simplify and refine. What’s the most disorganized place in a home? Maybe the junk drawer. First, get a few plastic grocery bags and sort the contents to:

(1) things that go in the garage. I’m guilty of putting all kinds of things in the kitchen junk drawer because I don’t feel like going into the garage to put things away.

(2) things that go into the bedroom, and

(3) things that go in another place in the kitchen, and then of course

(4) things to throw out.

Isn’t it true that junk drawers basically are filled with those things?

Don’t think I’m a neat freak, just a semi-reformed messie.

In the workplace, for those who still file actual paper… If you are filing a stack of papers into a filing cabinet, first sort them alphabetically then when you go to file you file quickly. Simplify, then refine. I use this principle when folding towels. First I separate hand towels, face rags, and bath towels. Then the folding goes quickly. Another example is groceries: first put them all out on the table or counter in groups, pantry, spices, refrigerator, other, then put them away. If you got a good bagger at the grocery store that helps.

It’s a good thing I got a little better at simplifying and refining because add a husband with dementia to a wife who’s a messie and you get disaster.

Since my husband cannot put his things away, his room gets messy with interesting things he puts in his drawers, food, dirty clothes, books, trash. I said before in a previous post that I made him a minimalist.

Now, I am not at all a minimalist. I like my cozy cottage feel that is a little arty/cluttered. But his room is different. He gets confused about his clothes. He never can find his electric razor though I keep it plugged into the bathroom socket. He keeps putting it in funny places. His closet, which is a very large walk in closet that I used for storage of many different things, now has been very minimalized. He has only a few pair of khaki pants, a few shirts and T-shirts, and on the wall I have a shoe holder where I slide in his underwear and socks. That way everything has, at a quick glance, a visual place. That actually helps me because now I need to help him more than ever. He at one time was able to find his clothes to change into. But now we have to go in and get his clothes out for him. And, if I do not stand outside of his door and say, “Ok, now, take off your shirt and hand it to me”, and when he does, I hand him a new shirt, he will just put his same shirt back on after his shower. Same with all his other clothes. This is our method to keep him from wearing the same dirty clothes every day. If I don’t do this he will sleep in them every night.

Being simplified and refined helps dementia care.

Thanks, mom. Mom’s always right.

 

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Baby seagull on the edge, acrylic on paper


Caregiving Vignettes:  “Escalating Trash”

There is a pattern of behavior I have noticed in my husband where it comes to his temperament change. I call this “escalations” from his usual difficult behaviors such as looking to eat every ten minutes or talking about walking out. My usual way is to redirect him. And usually it works. But when he escalates it’s very difficult to impossible for me to get him redirected.  I think redirecting might need to be defined here. How I redirect is to change the subject with a smile and talk about something else.  I even will suggest that going out may be a good idea for later but that he really needs a shower first.  Or I get us some water bottles and suggest he sit with me at the kitchen table.  Or, lastly, I will give him a job which helps but isn’t always helpful such as with the incident of the bag of trash.

Often in our marriage he would be the one to be in charge of trash  and until recently he would see me carrying a bag of trash and he would take it from me out to the large bin outside.  But he couldn’t any longer find the outside trash bin and so he put it in my car.  And it sat in the hot car in the garage for a couple of days.  It smelled like a dumpster.

The list is short of the things I now suggest he do.

On the escalations, Sometimes he is impossible. Recently I had to call the police to come because he walked out the door and I had to pick him up in the car and bring him home and all the while he was still in the escalated state saying he was here now but that he would be leaving. There is absolutely no reasoning with him which was what the very nice police officer tried to do. It happened to be over a hundred degrees that day so she tried to reason that point. I didn’t school her on this but there is no reasoning with him.

He was beginning to escalate tonight and so I just simply asked him if he wouldn’t mind going to his room and so he did. And he fell asleep.

It’s one day at a time.

I love peonies. They are the most delicate and luxurious flower. I have tried and failed to paint them many times but just recently I was asked to paint them by a special person in my life so I studied them and am making a go of it. here are the studies i am making of these beauties. I am painting with acrylics using thalo green, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow medium and titanium white. I have used a little mars black in the background as well.

Arizona Landscape

I was commissioned (by my mother… does that count?) to paint for my brother and sister-in-law for a Christmas present. I took a picture they had sent of a mountain in their backyard and added things to it so technically they don’t have a river back there but all I had to do was paint one in. 

My brother’s dog’s name is Nick. I was recently texting back and forth with him and bantering about life and he sent me a picture of his dog who was giving him the what he calls “stink eye”.   I impulsively though I haven’t done dogs before with paint, decided I had to paint him. With his white “beard” he looks a little bit like Saint Nick in dog kingdom. 

St. Nick the Dog

Cactus spun from the Yarn Sky

I love practicing applying paint using varied methods of stroking. For some of the strokes I turned the canvas upside down.  I have smart artist friends who have art degrees and they say to look at your painting in the mirror or look at it upside down. I think it helps you see things differently. When I righted it I was amazed at the difference in feel it gave. Thank you Artists in Action. Caroline. She’s not big turn it upside down brilliant artist.  

I spent two days painting  the sky different ways. And yesterday afternoon there was a deer but then it just did not make sense in the composition so he is buried under. It’s a wonder and canvas texture is left. That’s why I love acrylic paint. It layers on up. 

Skies Reflecting Color

I think a color burst happened to this painting where I was thickly gobbing on the paint. Is gobbing not a correct verb?  Spell check tried to change it to gobbling. Then it wanted to capitalize it. But pressing on I forced the gobbing because I wasn’t gobbling it like people with strange addictions. 

I watch YouTube as I treadmill and love to watch artists gob. There you go. Some do gob and say we of course should too if we are acrylic painting. Because it makes it dimensional. I was walking along at 2.5 mph which is about what I do usually and considering all my many paintings I didn’t know I was supposed to have gobbed on the paint. 

I always have a love/hate relationship with my paintings. I’m looking at those rocks knowing I need to do something about them. Add more irregular sizes?  Paint over them?  I love my sky. I am a sky lover anyhow and feel that my photos never pick up the colors brilliantly. iPhone camera I’m sure must have a setting I should learn about. Or better yet paint the sky. That’s what I’m doing. 

This ocean scene is done on paper as a sketch for a bigger canvas. Ignore I said previously that I was sorry I did the ocean scenes and was thinking of painting over them. What was I thinking?  I love the ocean and wish I could go there. I am interested in learning how the waves work and how to translate its power to my art. 

I really like red but not just any red. Vibrant red. I think I must feel red emotionally. In the fall I remember candy red apples we used to almost lose a filling eating. Ever see those anymore?  I love the color of red candy apples. And red cars.  Yum on both. 

Red, while deeply attractive, can be overkill. The red sports car you buy during a midlife crisis or the red room you hate in the middle of painting it.  If you know about paint you will know that overkill… Kilz. 

I have found that in painting, red brilliantly pairs with all kinds of color. I try to think of any color red looks bad with. And it sings next to blue. Cue the flag.


I think red’s vibrancy touches the heart. 

All that about red and I prepped a canvas with shades of dark blue. I’m not sure yet what it’s going to be. Maybe a red rose or a red camaro at night. 

Here is my blued canvas next to my “Antiques” painting for color. 


In see grass in those blue streaks. 

I love antiquing with my mom. She tells stories of how they had this thing or that and what times used to be like.

I wonder if much of today’s stuff will survive long enough to land itself in an antique shop. I’m not fooled anymore by the shine and cute packaging when the product doesn’t last. I think the shop those land in is the landfill. Like the veggie peeler that couldn’t hold itself up to make it through one potato. And who do you contact to get your money back. Probably nobody cause you spent $7.99 for it and is it even worth the effort.

A special word to Ellen, Thank you for looking at my blog and saying that you like my writing because I was wondering if it was too much.  Thanks!

Anyhow back to antiques. Comfort, Texas is a favorite place to antique and have a little lunch. My painting painting is from a photo I took there last summer.  I took liberties when painting it and that is the freedom I feel as a painter when orchestrating colors and shapes to appeal to the eye. I painted around the canvas sides so this one won’t need a frame.

When I arrived to my art group last week… called “Artists in Action”, I was as I so often am… between the problem of “what to paint” and my continual desire to learn something new. I had done so many ocean scenes and quite simply haven’t really liked any of them. If you scroll down through my blog you will see them. I most likely will be painting over all of them and reusing the canvases. I won’t delete the blog posts but I feel like I should. But not really because I am blogging to document my progression as an artist. Just about a year ago I joined the Artists in Action who paint together each week. I joined feeling intimidated because all of them have varying art degrees and years of experience. I jumped in and they have been so encouraging. 

So this is Judy. She sits across from me. She is a watercolorist who works from her many sketchbooks filled with studies of people deer trees and whatever else lands in the park where she sits and sketches as her husband takes his daily walks. This is her beginning a watercolor painting as the artists are all still arriving and bustling with their exciting lives. The room was filled with light and the huge windows made the back wall a puzzle of shapes along with the wood easels. 

Some life events took center stage for me recently which kept me from painting. This painting of my paints is my path back in. Why did I paint my paints. Possibly because I laid them out and stared at them awhile thinking what should I paint. I looked through some art magazines and some photos of mine but was inspired by the paints. I do love the colors and the way these colors mix. I just recently bought the cadmium orange and am excited to do a real painting with it on canvas. This is a board. I don’t really enjoy painting on a board but it was there and so I was doing kinda a non painting … uh … painting I thought the board would would be fine. At the end I decided to squeeze and smear the paint colors in front of their painted tubes. I think it’s art in action. Speaking of which I miss my art group I can’t attend presently. 

I took a photo a few years ago of vultures that were at the river here and there was a big bag of trash that they had gotten into. When I was looking into what painting I should do I discovered I had some pretty cool pictures of these vultures and I set out to paint in a watery acrylic style with doing a little bit of dripping

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I had painted this Texas Longhorn a few months ago but never really liked it. I had been looking at it with new eyes from the aspect of color value and made changes to it but I still didn’t like it.

It just wasn’t working out. So I had to say goodbye to that longhorn. Couldn’t save him. Basically I ended up painting over the whole thing. Now it’s an ocean. How does that happen?  Well the paint just goes on and it just happens sometimes.


Starting with the eyes I just start painting until I see what appears. It’s kinda like an owl hatchery around here right now. And the birds are calling loud now out in the trees behind my house. I have cardinals and they are the loudest and brightest birds I’ve ever seen. Cannot ever get a good picture though.

Someone asked me recently what the fascination with owls is. I’m not really sure but they are very beautiful.  I have spent a lot of time researching them and there are so many different looking owls. So I feel like I can paint them any way I want and there is one out there I think that must be that owl. Some owls look like they are smiling or have their heads turned upside down. I especially like to paint the fuzzy owlets and put glitter in their eyes. Color me an artist. I guess.

Under the layers of paint which are now rock was a slightly different painting, fields of bluebonnets. I took the photo just outside Fredericksburg. What’s left of the original painting is the road and sign. I was going to call it red white and bluebonnets.

But it just didn’t sit right with me and I started blocking in color to attempt again some lovely fields of the Texas state flower.

Can you see the tiny triangle of bluebonnets that I just had to put back in. And along the distant road I barely dotted some in.

I think this is my favorite painting. A curve in the road.

I like to do a painting and then let it sit. Going on to other things is good as I look at it passing by as I clean or fold laundry I’m always having to look at it and ask myself what I like about it and is it doing what I wanted. I am currently studying color contrasts used for taking your eye from place to place in your painting as well as creating depth. I love how the river seems to flow from within. It’s surreal. So hopefully the eye starts at the center tree and then bounces off the right tree and to the left tree and then down to the trees knees.

You might wonder looking at this painting if the river is that green. It really is depending on how the light is hitting it. I have been wanting to repaint this as I had really struggled with it the first time I painted it. I have employed some things I have learned from watching tutorial videos on YouTube and listening to great advise from my artist friends at Artists in Action. In particular I employed color value studies. This is the before picture:


And here is it now.

A member of my art group is moving and we all are painting on this apron as a gift for her. I bought the apron and started it off and will take it there tomorrow for the others to add.

I started with white acrylic paint and then roughed in some black and brown. Lastly I used fabric markers and fluffed those owlet feathers and pinked him up.