A Fawn in the Flowerbed

Stock Photo of Fawn.

Stock Photo of Fawn.

We’d just returned from a trip to Boone, NC and a couple of my friends and I were walking my garden getting fern leaves for an afternoon of Gelli printing.  As I bent down to pick some that were right next to the corner of my house, one of my friends let out a little yelp.  She’s been looking at an unusually realistic garden statuary that wobbled itself up and started to walk away.  It was a tiny fawn.  She was so tiny, my Pumpkin cat is bigger.  The photo above looks very much like her.

I was more startled than the fawn, having had my face so close to her and not even sensing her position or existence.  I did the absolute dumbest thing by following her around the corner, frightening her and making her try to run on those spindly weak legs.  I stopped after about 20 yards and let her go into another yard.  We heard rustling behind my shed, an area within close proximity to the spot the fawn was resting, and we’re hoping I didn’t put too much space between the mother and the baby.  I’ve been in a state of self loathing since this afternoon, wondering how I could be so stupid.  I’m such a city girl.

I write this because I have in the past few hours learned a lot about the birthing process of deer, and how I should have reacted.  This was definitely a very young deer.  Could have been a newborn and probably a twin because it was left alone.  I can hope that the mother will return since they often make their home near the place they were born, but I may have ruined things for them, and most distressingly, myself.

Learn from me, and stay back and simply observe when you see a fawn.  No sudden moves, and don’t try to pet them or help them.  If there is a problem, call whoever has control over such issues in your area.

I will never look at that bush and those ferns the same way again.  My memory will always see that tiny spotted, sweet-faced fawn laying there like a statue.  She’ll be in my dreams tonight, I am sure.


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The Society of the Blueberry Enlightened

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

One of the first things I planted in my yard was a dozen blueberry bushes.  That was almost four years ago and only six of them survived.   Those that did have finally matured and are bearing a massive amount of berries.  I didn’t realize many of them had ripened to perfection until my husband noticed people stopping along our road and eating them.  So we made a bee-line out there this morning and picked those that were ready, about two quarts.  Naturally I forgot to take a picture of the bushes before harvest, but you can see how many are left and incubating on just this one bush after today’s big pick.

I’m guessing by the end of June we’ll have netted about ten to fifteen quarts, or more.

I froze most of them using my handy-dandy new Food Saver machine that sucks all the air out to prevent freezer burn, and of course there’s some left in the ice-box for snack-attacks throughout the day.  But the highlight was making a blueberry cobbler.  I am now a member of the Society of the Blueberry Enlightened;  one of the lucky gardeners who knows with certainty that there is a universe of taste difference between just-picked fresh and picked-last-year frozen, blueberries.  Simply sublime.

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Definitely Not a Weed

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Click to Enlarge

I have a pot of old herbs at the end of my driveway.  I don’t harvest them, or prune them, or feed them for that matter.  And I’ve been meaning to pull them out and start over since they’ve been coming and going for about three years.  Mostly a weed has taken over; at least I thought it was a weed until this morning it bloomed. And with the bloom came the most deliciously weird fragrance.  It was vaguely familiar, and well it should be. I drink it in my Earl Grey decaf tea every night before bed.  It’s bergamot.

It’s beautiful in the wild, and even prettier on my dining room table.  And the fragrance, not unlike the effect of lavender, is calming.

I’m going to set this plant free this fall or next spring to spread out in a new herb garden.  (If you click this photo three times slowly, it enlarges so much you can really see the detail in these flowers!)

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Baby Owl Painting

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Will be offering this little owlet as class number two in the series later in the summer.  But right at the moment, I’m noticing that my cats keep looking at this painting.  Maybe they look at all my paintings, and I just haven’t noticed that.

Where have my watercolors gone?  And why is it so much easier to paint with acrylics????

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FINGERPAINTING (a class is born)

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

This is being offered locally as a quick class in fingerprinting.  I’ve found that placing the background and much of the bird’s body on the canvas with my fingers cuts down on prep time.  It also allows more latitude in highlighting and shadowing without showing the brush strokes… which is how I discovered this.  When painting large areas I realized I was using my hands to smooth things out and diminish the look of the stroke work.  So why not just start out that way, I thought.  And it worked well.

The class is May 21st, a Saturday.  It starts at noon and runs until we’re finished; about four or five hours.  All materials will be provided, and the cost is $45.  Anyone local who is interested may contact me though this website or call me if you know my number.  Former students will receive an email with instructions.  Thanks for looking.

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Got Milk?

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Click to Enlarge

Been working in acrylics again because I’m getting ready for two teaching opportunities this summer.  This cow is a composite of several cows I found on the Internet.  I think animals are easier than anything, and acrylics are far easier than watercolors.  But as soon as I get all my plants in, I’ll be outside with my little watercolor box, painting some flowers before they turn.

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But this is….about art.

breeI have a friend who’s been very kind to me.  He’s a policeman in my small town, and he works the night shift.  He knows I live alone, and I see him drive by my house often.  He looks out for me.

And he has a dog that he loves.  Another of my friends who is his neighbor took a picture of the dog and I did the painting.  It was a struggle not making each side match.   The light source was very bright and the colors were difficult and not uniform.  It seemed like pieces were missing and some lines were too … linear … to be on a dog.  But this is what I saw, so this is what I painted.

I gave it to him tonight and he said his wife would be thrilled.  It is actually her dog.

It feels so good to be able to do something for someone who seems to always be doing something for me.

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This is not about art.

I don’t talk into my typewriter, and I don’t type onto my phone.  I have never sent a text because I simply hate the whole idea of it.  And while “hate” is a strong word, here’s my list:

  1. I hate the noises phones make when there’s a text in the queue.  It’s far too Disneyesque and startling at the same time.
  2. I hate the way the language of texting completely bastardizes the King’s english, and how this trend is now creeping into our emails, and, “OMG!” our cards and letters.
  3. I cringe when people can’t help themselves, even though they might be in the middle of a sentence in the middle of a conversation with me, thinking erroneously that the incoming text might be important when everyone knows that if it was really important they would be CALLING instead of texting.
  4. While I loathe the way what should be a 15-second conversation turns into a symphony of little pings and whistles and taps and averted eyes and apologies and explanations of who is texting and how they will deal with the “whatever and whoever” later, all of which takes a good THREE MINUTES, yet I am mildly amused by the insanity of it.
  5. But the thing I hate most is when I see the driver in front of me, or worse…behind me, with their eyes looking into their laps while they weave in and out of their lane, off to the shoulder, crossing the double yellow lines, and often careening over two lanes to avoid missing their exit that suddenly appeared when they eventually decided to pay attention to their own driving.  This is illegal and spectacularly stupid behavior, and so prevalent now that I can not remember the last time I drove a car and didn’t see someone texting while driving.

Yesterday I encountered at least three people who were obviously texting behind the wheel, all of them young.  I can’t think of anything less Christian than hoping someone dies, but how do you root for the survival of someone who is not only risking his own life, but yours as well?

My career was spent in the ICU as a nurse, but now I wish I’d chosen to be a state trooper.

Well now, that’s off my chest.  Thanks for reading.

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Chicks Painting Chickadees

Chicks with their Chickadees

Chicks with their Chickadees

When I left Virginia in 2004, I left many former decorative painting students behind.  While I knew I would miss them, and the fun we had in class, I was ready to cross  over to watercolor. But the immutable fact is that I’m just not good enough to teach watercolor, so I’m back to teaching decorating painting. Since I have dozens of prepared classes and samples painted, starting  over has been easier than I expected.

Our first class went three nights over three weeks for 3 hours each night.  Most of these students are true beginners, yet all of them grasped the stroke work quickly, and I believe all of them are happy with their pieces.  At least happy enough to sign up to another project, an acrylic sheep on canvas to start the end of March.last night painting

I LOVE being in a room of creative people, whether I am teaching or learning.  I really enjoy sharing what I know about this art form, and the camaraderie was evident at the introduction of the first class.  Everyone made new friends.   Painting partnerships formed.

I’ve interviewed at the new Hobby Lobby in Statesville and have been hired to teach all-day Saturday classes of my choosing.  The jury is out on the Hickory store, and I’m still waiting to hear.  But in the meantime, I’m putting those classes together as well; one class for two stores; one half the prep work.  Got to love that.

last night paintingI’m in a “window show” at the local record store on Main Street for the month of March.  I have photos and will post about this soon.  But the biggest news is that I’ve decided to take some private lessons from a very seasoned artist in Asheville by the name of Jason Rafferty

I have asked for still life instruction, with a focus on composition and drawing.  I could also use more color theory as I find in my own work the most difficult part is finding the right colors.

Check out his website, especially the “Heirloom Tomatoes” and “Farmers Market Gourd” that you’ll find if you scroll nearly to the bottom of his first page.  It was these two paintings that attracted me most.  Wish me luck!

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A Week of Bliss: Lian Quan Zhen

I schedule these classes a year in advance; you have to because they fill within days of being offered.  This past week could be considered the best art instruction I’ve ever had.  Lian Quan Zhen was at Cheap Joes, and I got there early enough on Monday to get a front row seat.  And it was worth it.

If you are an artist you already know this.  Continuing education is paramount to keeping up your skills.  The costs can be daunting for the five days, but they do provide tasty lunches.  And all of these classes, without exception, are rolling advertisements for products, “highly recommended” and available right through those adjacent doors.  Of course many of Zhen’s originals and prints were displayed on the walls around the classroom, begging your attention and money.  But if you can resist all the temptations and simply concentrate on the demos of the class, you will learn so much from this man.

I did three paintings, none of which I feel happy enough about to put up here, so instead I’ve displayed one of his that is similar to one we painted during class time.  And therein lies the best part.  While many instructors have you sit in uncomfortable chairs watching them paint, whistle, and occasionally make a remark about what is good or bad about that last stroke, Zhen paints quickly, noting each color often, each stroke and how he did it, AND reiterates often to get his point across.  “Change color; change shape; …. Never put dark next to dark…. Hold your brush like this…”  His demos were short and we were back at our painting tables applying what we just learned.   Several students agreed that many instructors should take Zhen’s class to learn how to instruct.”  And I agree with them.

The first two days were Chinese painting with Chinese tools and paints.  I have a new appreciation for the art form and will continue to learn it.  The rest of the week was conventional watercolor, but several of the Chinese painting techniques crossed over easily.  Zhen paints a lot with his fingers.  He uses spray bottles, straws, and a variety of items to remove paint when things get too wet.  He throws paint on the paper and watches it do its own thing, or coaxes it to move and blend.  It’s almost like magic, and I wound up referring to him as the “Go-Go-Gadget of Watercolor.”  I should have taken notes, and I regret I didn’t because at the end I found myself buying several of his DVD’s for reference.

The moral of this post is to recommend his class.  There wasn’t one moment of boredom or confusion.  He’s a great teacher, a fantastic watercolor artist, and even if you don’t have an interest in painting like him, you will still learn volumes that will enhance your own style to a measurable degree.  Check him out.

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