Happy Holidays

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It’s not like I don’t like the Cowboys.  Wait a minute, I DON’T like the Cowboys.  I haven’t since my Redskin days.  (I grew up in D.C.)



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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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First Sheep…acrylic on canvas.




I’m selling this one in the art co-op.  It’s 18″ X 24″ and the first of, hopefully, many sheep.  The background, which is dark enough to confuse my camera, is deep purple.

Thank you everyone:  Cobs, Dale, Averyclaire, Karen, Donna and Cindy for your kind words and support, and to everyone who has “liked” my recent paintings.  I’m just taking a very small break from watercolor, but I’ll be back to it this fall at a week-long seminar with Lian Quan Zhen.  Very excited.


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What is more difficult than painting a black dog?



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And so it goes…

It’s finally happened.  I’ve crossed the threshold of being too busy to write this blog.  With the house renovations in full swing (I finally found a contractor who knows what he’s doing) and my garden taking shape (and all my time), and my art and rug hooking, and these wonderful women from Master Gardener group, and all these little towns in the Western NC mountains that need visiting….I just don’t have it in me any more to keep up with writing.

An amazing thing happened yesterday.  A woman was walking up my street while I was in the garden, and she said that she purposefully walks this street to see my progress.  We chatted, and she came in for ice-tea, and I know she’s going to be a good friend.  We found we had so much in common, but as I waved good-bye, I realize over an hour had passed, and I needed to hurry to get through my gardening list.  More to do, less time to do it, and no time to write about it.

I’m not taking the site down, and will reevaluate next year.  I’m still reading your posts before I go to sleep, even if I don’t comment, and I have found that some of you are also taking some time off.  So as Arnold would say,  “[eventually] I’ll be back.”  Enjoy the summer.

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It’s been so long…..

….I forgot my password.  Seriously.

Finally a studio: 1780 sq. ft. that's all MINE!   Click to Enlarge.

Finally a studio: 1780 sq. ft. that’s all MINE! Click to Enlarge.

I received so many “where-are-you, I’m-worried” emails, I had to get over my guilt and embarrassment and just post.   Now here I am with much to say, but little energy or creative thought with which to do so.  It’s been a long three months.

My IPhoto indicates that I drew those animated figures on February 7th, and posted them them that day.  In the meantime I had the illness that blew through my social circle soon after, and it was a full six weeks of hell and high-water to get through it.  Some antibiotics, prednisone, three bottles of cough medicine, an inhaler, and copious amounts of sleep did nothing to hasten my recovery.  In fact, I’m still having pain where I am fairly sure I either popped a rib or grew a hernia from the stress of coughing.

Filled with feathers, this is my napping place.

Filled with feathers, this is my napping place.

I somehow managed to graduate from the Master Gardener Program and I am now obsessed with putting in my garden.  While I’ve always had a passion for plants, the knowledge I gained in the program has me doing things right, and I’m already seeing the results.  Roses should be fed once a month while blooming!  Who knew?  I do now.

I hooked a complete rug runner, (My design.  It’s goofy like me, but definitely a one-of-a-kind.  “The Colorful Crows of North Carolina.”  72″ long and done with strips of recycled, over-dyed 100% wool, #8 Amy Oxford punch on Monks cloth).   Had several day trips, numerous luncheons and read several books.  Got a new television, finished the basement studio, created many watercolors, and took more instruction in my favorite art form.

Plenty of light, room, and entertainment while I hook.  Click to Enlarge

Plenty of light, room, and entertainment while I hook. Click to Enlarge

The adage is this, and you’ve heard me say it before: If I have time to write, I have little to write about.  If I have much to write about, I have little time to do so.  The latter is the case at the moment, but I am very touched and my heart is full from all the nice emails.  Thank you so much.

Scroll down to see THE RUG…

I’ll post some pictures of the garden next time.

Six feet long, the only thing left is to add the braid around the edge and backing.  Click to Enlarge

Six feet long, the only thing left is to add the braid around the edge and backing. Click to Enlarge

Posted in Needle Punch, Needlework, Painting, Punch Needle, Textile Art, Uncategorized, Watercolor, Whimseytopia | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

A Craftsy Class: Sketching in Motion (#1)

The guest room renovation took most of my energy and all of my time, so it was soothing as well as mesmerizing to watch Marc Taro Holmes swirl his pencils, pens, and brushes across the paper, and like magic create what I long for: an illustrative watercolor.

I’m taking his class called Sketching in Motion, and while it looks simple when he does it, it’s far harder than I ever imagined.  He wants “fast.”  I want “fast.”  But it is a mystery to me how he can work that fast and produce such intriguing and attractive little watercolors.

I’ve watched the entire program a few times, and it was only yesterday I felt I could produce something that indicated movement.  They’re all smudged and not even close to being the contour drawing he requires, but at least I got phase one on paper.  Tomorrow I’ll be pulling out my ink pen for phase two.

So in an effort to encourage (patsye-speak for embarrass) myself into sketching every day, I am putting these feeble attempts out there for your amusement.  Each day they’ll either get better or worse.  Time will tell.

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Click to Enlarge

Scan 41

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In Lieu of Watercolors

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Click to Enlarge

This has been an ongoing project, but aside from adjusting one set of closet doors and waiting the arrival of a special order 10-lite door for another closet, THIS project is finished.

What was done?  New floors, new molding around floors and doors, new glass entrance door,  new window (replacement of a small, round porthole shaped non-egress window with a five foot side-sliding tinted one), reconfigured single closet with new trim on shelving, new doors and new shelving in large closet, crown moulding, chair railing, wallpaper, paint, new fan, new shag rug, new shades, all new electric outlets and switches, and new linens.  All the furniture was my son’s, but we bought a new mattress set.

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Click to Enlarge

If this doesn’t sound like much, it took me over two months of work, much of it on my hands and knees or on a ladder to complete.  Except for the installation of the window, electric, and fan, I did all of this by myself.  Scroll for more photos.  So I’m back to my watercolors for awhile, but then I start on the master bath!!!!  (Will post photos of any additions as they happen.)


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Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

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Overstock vs. Joss and Main

beddingI get between 100-200 spams a day. Granted, they are sent directly to my spam mail which gives me the option to look or not, and occasionally I’ll look.  Recently I found a sale at Overstock.com that intrigued me, and I not only looked, I came within seconds of buying a quilt for our new guest room bed.  But I hesitated because I’d yet to “snorkel” for a better deal, something I always try to do.

The Laura Ashley king quilt set I almost bought at Overstock.com was listed, on sale, at $144.o0 with free shipping.  I found the identical king quilt at JossandMain.com for $79.95, also with free shipping.  Hum?  Didn’t seem quite right, so I went back and rechecked my figures, and even did so again today to make sure I’m not confused, yet those numbers are correct.

So Overstock was not the deal it purported itself to be, but for this particular purchase Joss and Main was.  Furthermore, my quilt arrived in two days.  That was a little mind boggling in itself.  I’ve changed my mail to allow both into my mailbox because some of the rooms in this house have transcended the renovation stage and are now in the decorating stage.

I’m not saying one site is better than the other (in case all you little corporate lawyers are reading), but had I paid that extra $65 for the quilt and found out later, I would not be happy, and thought I’d share this experience.

Click KING on each site to see for yourself.  (And if these prices change in the future, perhaps my readership is larger than I thought.)




Posted in A Day In My Life, Uncategorized, Whimseytopia | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments