Ten Year Anniversary!

 

sailing

Flying the kite

If you stumbled onto this link, and wondered if this is really an art blog, I admit it, I occasionally stray from the theme, and lose the thread!  In ’08 we bought a big sailboat in Tortola, to be our winter home away from Ohio, the idea was that learning to blog would occupy all those hours when we are moored, or cruising, or under repair, a frequent condition for an older boat. Then I discovered that I could set up a tabletop easel in the cockpit, I found sailing scenes are fun to paint, and I didn’t have that spare time! But blogging became a habit, a light-hearted account of an artist’s life on the warm water of the BVI and, now, of our more sedentary life in the Midwest.

Blue and White Umbrella, Sandy Cay, BVI

The blue and white umbrella, Sandy Cay

Artists need a life outside the studio, though every artist knows that despite every other good thing that happens in your life, if your painting isn’t going right, if you’re not in touch with that Artist within you, it can be overwhelmingly concerning. For the past few months I have been caught up in painting a few major works inside, and as they say…….
“Learning to paint landscapes in the studio is like learning to swim at home on the sofa”  So, time to go out!

 We all enjoy time off, so Mari and I took the guys on a mystery tour.  They brought an overnight bag, and a rain jacket…April showers were a real possibility.  We headed out across the flat farming country of western Ohio. Here there are sprawling tidy farms, fields just plowed and sewn, tall silos, and a cool brisk wind, and blossom, lots of blossom.   We looked at small towns which were established and thrived along the railroads, but now are sleepy small communities with few jobs, and little to appeal to young residents.  We stopped in Jackson Center, for a tour of the Airstream factory.

airstream If you go, take closed toe shoes, and book ahead.  I am not a big fan of the riveted look, but enthusiastic cult followers love them and their super luxurious interiors.  A good size Airstream, and the rig to haul it around, will cost as much as a small house, even a medium-big house in western Ohio. Or you can buy an early 1948 small model for just $60,000.p and M Not for me, though it was a great way to get insight into the many hands-on steps in this small all-American factory. In the evening, we had a swim and ate coal-fired pizza outside on the patio of a small joint in Wapokoneta. (Waw-paw-ko-net-a, pop 9800)  We were in the birthplace of Neil Armstrong. He didn’t live here for long and then got as far out of town as he could..err…the moon!

The next morning, while the guys did a quick tour of his museum, the girls checked out the antique mall in a former opera house, and then the Temple of Tolerance, home of Jim Bowser.entry His back yard is a maze of rocks, rock piles and mini shrines, and he has live music here on a warm Thursday evening in summer.arch Jim has a slab from a bank counter that robber John Dillinger leapt over, a potato-shaped rock from Woodstock, the front step of the former Ku Klux Klan headquarters in Wapakoneta. “I ask black people to sit on the step,” said Jim, “so they can liberate it.”   rocks

The Barrel House is another of the yard’s attractions, which Jim said was the only house in the U.S. deliberately built to resemble a barrel. It has bullet holes, shot into it during Prohibition.

colors

We couldn’t linger, we had a reservation for a tour of the Kitchen Aid factory. The production here is a staggering 2 million standmixers a year, quality control is amazing, the factory was fascinating.  Unlike Airstream it is fully automated, and impressive.  In the basement of their outlet shop in Greenville they have refurnished models at half price.  It was tempting to purchase one, but what color to buy?

 

 

 

Perhaps this one…….A beauty!969B6patriotic kitchen aid

 

 

But what to do with my faithful and very serviceable Bosch?

 

We hopped across into Indiana, to gaze up at lofty windmills, and in the late afternoon we drove home via Grand Lake.  It is beautiful here, but it was still too chilly for a dip, and BTW we hear that the water is seriously polluted.

We had another day out a day on the back roads of Geauga County, and came home with souvenir plants, cheese, used furniture and chocolate.  A trip is not complete without a little chocolate. It’s good for you.  We felt we’d been away for days!Anne's Cabin, March 2018

Now I’m back to work, and I’m painting some small paintings for friends, like this cabin in Flatrock.  We spent a few days there early in the year.  If I concentrate on a barter business, I could spend my whole winter going from cabin to cabin.

Get in touch..  Just a few days in yours, for a portrait or two!

 

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Just say No !

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In February we had a few warm days and prematurely we congratulated ourselves on successfully enduring another winter. March was bitterly cold with snow, April promised more of the same.  We needed a break.  When you drive South from Lake Erie, it doesn’t take long before the snow and serious frost is replaced by a world of yellow willows, hawthorn and redbud. At the border, we drank coffee at the historic Blennerhasset Hotel in Parkersburg, strolled by the flooded Ohio River, and then crossed into West Virginia.  There was time for a coal country picnic in the sunshine of Ripley and a delightful walk around the lake in the Hungry Mother State Park.

Walschaert

Walschaert    SOLD

The railroads criss-cross the state, hauling their loads of coal, chemicals and timber. Our motel was by the tracks.  It didn’t matter, we kept our windows open, loving Spring.  By early afternoon we reached Flat rock, and our cottage. IMGP2474 It overlooks a ten acre paddock, and from a rocker on the porch we enjoyed the pastoral quality of sheep and goats cropping the grass, watch new leaves bursting from their  winter casings, and catch the jewel tones of orioles’ in their flashy spring plumage.

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Hendersonville is a short drive away, it’s quiet Main Street, lined with outdoor eateries, and pedestrian walk ways, with planters full of tulips, and daffodils.   Kathy and Pete drove up from Seneca, and we ate pizza in the local bar, and walked around the excellent Flat rock Park, a reclaimed golf course, we explored the hilly neighborhood. . This is the Chagrin Falls of North Carolina, and I could live here.  There is plenty to paint, mountains to hike, waterfalls, a market for art, and a climate that is perfect.

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Hendersonville

Next morning, we drove across country to Black Mountain to spend a few days with Linda and Earl. Their new rescue pup welcomed us with a huge spreading pool of pee on the tile floor.  Maggie is an endearing young sheepadoodle, with some annoying habits.  We had a long rough walk to Catawba Falls, a Kortuba ride along the back lanes of Black Mountain, and a fantastic day at Chimney Rock.  We climbed the 500 steps to the top of the rock (the elevator is out!) Tons of subjects to paint here, the clear river bubbles over small falls, on a sandy base between lovely rounded boulders. The trees were just budding out, so the view from chimney rock was unobstructed, no weekend crowds, and if you like to paint waterfalls, here there are plenty!  If we had stayed in Robins Mountain top tiny house, we might still be there. It has a tiny kitchen, a tiny bedroom but sweeping views of Mt Mitchell and nearby mountains seen from the hot tub.  An artist could live here, too.

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We made the drive back in one long day.  Damn it is cold.  We built a fire, and I went back to the studio.
The painting of Americas Cup boats was fun, the paintings of Hendersonville, the sheep side cottage in Flatrock or the falls of Chimney Rock will be sheer pleasure.  I look forward to those.  But first the wood interior, this will be WORK.  Sometimes you have just got to say no.  Why didn’t I!  This will be a challenge, you’ll see.

Harrietts garden

Harriett’s summer garden   SOLD

 

 

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The Heart Matters

Sometimes life gets in the way of your painting. The artist’s life is generally a solitary one, but playing with a bunch of agreeable and interesting pickle friends is a fun social start to the day.  Regular pickle workouts and occasional 5 mile runs makes one pretty fit, but sitting in a car for hours on end has put me in more pain than any workout. It’s yet another old people ailment.  The drat sciatic nerve!

potting shed

The Potting Shed    30 x 40

At least I didn’t require a hospital. Pete went in for a pacemaker.  His heart monitor showed crazy wild rapid beats when he was playing pickle, but on resting days his heart would occasionally stop for a few seconds or dropped so low that he passed out. Our cardiologist drinking buddy installed a pacemaker but during the surgery he snagged the lung.  He said it was partly because Pete is so scrawny, no fat padding to protect him.  The snip caused his lung to deflate, a pneumothorax.   Doc was beside himself. Pete wasn’t thrilled. A hospital room is Not a very exciting place to be. There may be a rare interesting, occasionally gruesome or worrying conversation, or nurse chitchat, or  intercom drama  “…EMT to room 422, NOW!…..”  There is the friendship of fellow inmates and visitors all bravely confronting their own troubles.  There were cheerful carers, gleaming floors (no cat hair), good food, and if he had desired a visit from one of the 27 doggie staff members.

Daffs by the barn door

Daffs by the Barn Door   Sold

Old history now!  Pete feels splendid.  His driving was restricted for a few days, but we needed a trip.  ………..  I have another commission to paint a cottage in North Carolina.

We went to take a look.

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March…..

artists and their catsPlenty of famous artists were crazy about cats………Gustav Klimt, Henri Matisse, Salvador Dali, Georgia O’Keeffe, Pierre Bonnard, Louis Wain, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, and on and on.  Studies confirm that they lower our blood pressure and release dopamine and serotonin, which reduce stress, improve immune functioning, and fosters creativity.  Scientists have proved that the person who owns a cat has a smaller chance of getting a heart attack. However this theory was seriously tested today.  When my back was turned Thomas dived for a big brush heavily loaded with blue oil paint and then thought it was a new game of grab and chase. he was determined to distribute a hefty swath of turquoise paint on his favorite places…the sofa, the bed and the shaggy rug.  What a riot. Once caught, a clean rag took care of most of his coat, and butter rubbed elsewhere prompted a good licking!  Tonight he still has a blue ear and neck which he couldn’t reach, and the paint has stained his fur.   Perfection has been compromised, but it is an interesting look!

Sunday Spinakers

Spinakers   $125

In San Francisco Anna and I shopped relentlessly, and enjoyed every moment.   With purchases mostly from Craig’s list, flea markets and second hand stores, we transformed her small shabby apartment to a sharp character filled retreat.  To get around the city, we used a zip car, a friend’s car, and Uber.  We searched, then scrubbed, painted, polished, and planted and fell into our respective beds exhausted only to get up and repeat the process.  We stopped to eat occasionally and very well, but even on my final morning, before leaving for the airport, the rugs came up and the floor was mopped and polished. I am trying for a return invitation!

before

Before……

We had hardly time to notice the weather, but on Sunday we climbed the hill to Grant Park.  It is minutes from her door, and we had a brilliant 360 deg. panorama from the high rises of down town, the length of Golden Gate Park, the top of the bridge, and the Bay beyond and Ocean Beach in the distance.

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Top Of GG Bridge, the Park, Annas place is in the lower RHS of the photo.

On the our return walk, we found that a hill top resident had tossed a heap of rooted succulent cuttings on the curb, a free gift for passers by, and irresistible for an enthusiastic gardener. Back we came with yet another task.

 

After

……….After

It was all great fun but she had work to do… At the end of the workday she can come home to a Morrocan style retreat, a perfect setting to relax, sit back, eat couscous, and drink mint tea.

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And Tom has a fine wooden salad bowl of his very own!

Americas Cup 2013

America’s Cup 2013  NFS

I also completed the commission.  It is 5 ft wide, and took a few weeks to complete.   I had plenty of  resource photos.  Pete and I were in San Francisco for the event.

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IMG_6014This has been one of the worst flu seasons in decades.  Any social activity is a gamble.   We have reached the age that we are considered high risk.  It’s defense is not total, but we both had the recommended flu shot at the optimum time….not too early, not too late.  And germaphobic as I am ( a long cruise will do that to you) there is no avoiding society completely.  At pickle we handle sweat, and germs all morning,  we stand shoulder to shoulder in line at the grocery store, and at those routine visits to the doctor, you cannot have a useful conversation while refusing to get closer than six feet……nasty loaded droplets can reach you from  a cough or a sneeze.

Anyway here I am stretched out on the bed with a flannel rag on my chest reeking of Vicks vapor rub, with hair resembling a well used mop, with no fever, but where a single flight of stairs to do laundry saps the entire store of energy, certainly none to venture beyond the threshold of the door and taste the flavor of Spring.  Rats.  It may be just a cold but I am not outside savoring the first day of spring.  The temperature is going to reach a whopping 68 degrees, heights not seen since Oct 2017.

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botti oneThere is a 5 ft canvas in the studio, and new paint and brushes. I can’t cope with running out of paint half way through a project this important, but I can only wish for a bigger studio. With a painting this size I really need to step back further!
It is going to hang in a nice big room….a kitchen!

 

While I’ve been at work at the easel, Pete has been shopping for a new hybrid Rav 4.  He has had an implant, a cardiac monitor.  Smaller than a key, the cardiac monitor is inserted just beneath the skin of the chest.  It will record his heart rhythms for three years.  The goal is to identify why he drove into a big snow pile while driving! He took the front corner off his Prius so we trade in my stick shift, faithful reliable and well loved old car for a new set of wheels!  At this point, however, I will sign for anything, just hand me the paperwork and let me sleep!

new rav

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Let’s go sailing….

Outside my studio it is well below freezing and I see fifty shades of grey.

I prefer days like this…..

Pole prep!

Pole Prep   $125

Or even this……

Rainy Day on the Water

Rainy Day at Sea   $125

 

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Frames make a difference!

How to make a painting....Waterlily pond
When I sell you a painting I am never sure how to frame it, so I am very happy when you decide to choose your own frame.  More likely than not you already have a measured wall space, painted a neutral color, and with a hook at eye level.  But if you ask for advice, I can give you a few tips, but feel free to totally disregard!

Anne chose to buy her watercolor commission unframed.  Here it is. From sketch to completion,  painted from the top down…..more or less.  This is my usual technique for a large work.   When she took it home, I mentioned that I would never put a black frame on a watercolor….and off she went to the frame shop.  And well, well,…
It looks magnificent on her dining room wall in it’s sleek contemporary BLACK frame.

My little 8x 8 panels are easy to frame.  SiIvery moldings work with every one. Slightly distressed colored frames are perfect  when the art hangs in a beach or lake cottage.  Pin the panels in the frame, add a sawtooth hanger, and group them on a large wall, or in pairs on a small one.
Carol bought one, liked it so well, she immediately bought another.  I love positive feedback!

distressed green

silvery frame

Frames make a difference!

 

 

 

Frames make a difference!

Anne’s Lilypond

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