A sunny side to a rainy Mother's Day

1st stage of still life, oil, 24x24

2nd stage of still life, oil, 24x24

Yesterday I woke up to a windy, cold, rainy and dark Mother's Day. Now, you may think this is weird, but those kind of days are some of my favorites. You know, snuggling in a warm bed, with a cup of coffee.... But, being in the restaurant biz, Mother's Day is a big deal and an appearance there was necessary. My youngest daughter, Morgan, took the train home from Chicago for the weekend. We did the sushi thing, bought some popcorn, came home and watched a dorky comedy together. Really nice.

On Saturday, my sisters, some nieces, nephews, and one brother-in-law (he'll get his reward in heaven), went to Mendota to my mom's to get her flower gardens in order. Laurie, my sister, was the project foreman and all went well, but we were pooped! During a work break, 5 of the worker bees decided to make reservations at the restaurant. So, now I really had to make an appearance! That was fine. We had a great dinner, lots of laughs, and they all went home by 3!

So, with their early dismissal, and the day still dark, I surprised myself by getting to the studio for the afternoon.

Above, you will see a start of a 24" x 24" floral still life. I haven't done a floral in a long time. These daffodils are from my garden. The vase was from a birthday bouquet from my oldest daughter. As soon as I saw the bouquet, the vase is what caught my eye...the cool aqua color and I knew that it would be a part of still lifes to come.

Normally, the first stage I will put values (shadows) in before adding the color. But, this time, I started adding color once the sketch was set down. Don't know why....guess I didn't want to waste another hour. It's been awhile painting something for me.

Must have been enjoying myself, because before I knew it was after 8 p.m.! With sunset coming so much later, the afternoon flew by. So, the painting will be done the next time.

Today is a Y day and a hair appointment day and a weeding day. The rototiller is all primed up and the sun is supposed to be out most of the day...woot. Jeff's Monday golf league has officially started. He is taking Morgan back to Chicago before that. Time for some bonding. You know what that means? I have the day to myself ... completely. Yeah baby.

until later

Her Majesty completed

"Her Majesty," 24 x 24, oil on board

She's all done. Worked on her today. This one was harder than I planned on. I don't like to use small brushes very often and this painting forced me to do that. Painting more loosely is my goal and the during the last half of working on this piece I was married to keeping things crisp and tight. But, the composition pushed me to do that. If I had not cropped into the subject so tightly, I could have painted more loosely. I still like her though. She's one of the fine old farmhouses just outside of Dixon, Illinois (northwestern illinois). Debbie and I took a farm hunting/picture taking drive around May this year and snapped a bunch of images just as the sun started to get low in the early evening sky.

Debbie and my daughter showing joy over free sample beverage.

Jeff and I met my sisters (3 of the 5), my beautiful daughter, my mom, brother-in-law, and of course my bff Debbie in Chicago to see Wicked yesterday afternoon. My sister, Judy, was the ticket getter and we met at her place and went to a nice lunch at an Italian place not far from her and then we caught a couple of cabs to the Ford Oriental Theatre. The play was wonderful. I wish I could hold a note that long.

My sister, Judy, showing joy over Pinot Grigio at lunch.

The evening was beautiful and we decided to take the el instead of cabs because my mom said she had never taken the el before. So we did. It was fun...yeah, it was! We got back to Judy's and had a little wine, watched the end of the Indiana/New England football game, and raided Judy's shoe closet. She was cleaning it out to make room for more! We're helpful that way.

Then we hit the road back to Dixon. Home by 9 p.m. A really nice day. Slept late this morning and got into the studio a bit late, but who's watching?

This weekend I'm attending an "open" oil painting one day workshop with Michael Gerry. We can bring our own subject to work on and not be in a more traditional class. I haven't done one of these in a long time because Saturdays are normally out for me because of the inn and restaurant. Nov. is slower in that area and I'm taking advantage of it! I'll probably do a still life.

2nd Day's work on Flower Power 2

Coming along...2nd day's work on Flower Power 2, 24" x 24", oil on board

Another busy week with most of it away from the easel. Working at Affinity AV quite a bit this week, mostly in administrative mode instead of web design mode. No big deal. I was as an administrative assistant for years before owning a restaurant and inn. IBM was my favorite. No one can say anything bad about IBM to me. They were great to work for...benefits weren't bad either. Hey...I even got regular PAID vacations. heh

The midwest, particularly northern Illinois, was inundated with continual heavy rain this week. Since we live on a peninsula of the Rock River (river is one block to the west and 3 blocks to the east) we've been watching that little puppy rise every day. Fortunately, we all sit rather high and the lowlands are what took the hit.

I also helped move my daughter into her new place in Chicago on Thursday. Started out sunny and 92 degrees. We went to the storage area and got as much stuff as possible for 2 women to haul up a 2nd floor walkup! As we were shoving the full size mattress up her steps, the first scary storm hit. We were high fiving ourselves on how lucky we were. The second trip back to the house, God got us back. The second storm hit and we both looked like we were prime contestants in a wet t-shirt contest! heh

Today the weather is a gorgeous 78 degrees, sunny, and almost NO humidity. So, I got to paint today. Monday is my normal day, but I have an Affinity meeting in Naperville by 11 a.m. Working with a couple of retired guys from the ad business. They were in their prime in the 60s...see "Mad Men." Two different worlds and starting to clash. We're all making nice and having a meeting to finalize their new commerce website. They understand print advertising and we understand web site development....two different animals.

Jeff just got back from Chicago because he took the last of the big furniture out of storage and they finished the big move in. Time to order some food. Later gators.

Teaching is an art in its self

Every week dawns with me thinking that once I get through this week, next week won't be as busy. And you know what, every week is as busy as the next. It's time to start living each day instead of wishing my life away!

Last week, I was the 6th art instructor at The Next Picture Show's 6x6x6 Art Camp for kids. I had between 8-10 kids from ages 10-13, kind of like a one room school house sort of thing. There were 4 boys this year....up from one last year. They didn't seem to mind doing closeups of zinnias. On the second day, when they finished early, they did a "free paint" which brought on dinosaurs and robots!

During the first day's class, a painting customer of mine stopped by to pickup and pay for all 4 of my 12" x 12" oils (apples/barns). The kids looked perfectly bored with me at the start of the class, but I showed them what can happen when you pay attention and practice...I flashed the check for the paintings at them and you'd think I was a rock star!

The class itself took on a life of its own. After we got the flower sketched out the first thing every single one of them asked if they could paint them different colors. Why not? So, I just helped them with how to handle a brush, mix complimentary colors for proper shadows, and how to CLEAN their brushes correctly. No black was allowed to be used. Kids, boys especially, love to put black in everything and turn a painting into a muddy mess!

By the end of the 2nd day, they all had some nice paintings. When they were all lined up to dry, they kind of looked like a quilt!

Also, last week on Wednesday (between the two classes) Debbie and I went to Chicago to meet up with my youngest daughter, Morgan, to look at apartments with her. Her lease is up on 7/31 and she waited this long to do some real looking. No stress there. As soon as I got to her place, I gave her the keys and she drove us all around. She was really interested in the Pilson neighborhood, a mostly hispanic, blue color neighborhood. The area has undergone a renaissance of sorts, but is still very ethnic with lots of little kids, families, colorful murals, etc. Also the rents are cheaper. One reason the rents were so cheap is that they didn't have refrigerators! Deal breaker. We didn't find anything to put a deposit on, but we met up later with Debbie's son, Chris, and his friends at the Shedd Aquarium and went to little Italy (a block and a half from Morgan's) for a great dinner outside at Rosebud's on Taylor.

Chicago is the best big city ever. It's gorgeous, diverse, and plain good ole' fun.

Today, once I get my butt away from this computer, I'm going to finish my copper still life and get ready to go help work on ANOTHER project. Debbie, her daughter Arin, and I are starting drawing/painting instruction with 6 kids at the probation office. They are all to design and paint a tree to be incorporated into a 10' H x 20' W mural outside of the Lee County Probation office. Hopefully, all will go well.

Jeff just left to go to Chicago to pick Morgan up. She's moving home for a month. The apartment we did find last Wed. wasn't available until 9/1. So, for one month she will live here, work in our restaurant and save some money. Guess I better pick up some groceries. Morgan, God love her, is a great eater.

Well, this turned out to be a novel. Time to paint.

Back in the saddle, so to speak

After a couple of false starts this morning, I started another painting. It's a floral landscape border, 36" x 24", acrylic on ampersand gessobord (2" deep cradle). We have about 3 acres of property and have many perrenial flower beds. This particular one, lines a sidewalk that leads to our restaurant entrance. Last summer was a nice rainy season and the flowers seemed to bloom with no attention.

I started with a magenta-ish base. Sorry for the glare...it was impossibly sunny when I started, then dropped 20 degrees and became very gray out. Spring in Illinois........

I blocked in the darkest darks and started with some of the lighter lights

Getting more values in.

Starting to get near the end. I need to correct the background values. Kinda weird right now. Also, I had a spotlight on for this last picture because the weather caused my natural light to disappear...so the color has a bit of a yellow cast to it.

Our trip to Chicago was so nice yesterday. It hit 73 degrees, sun was out, the Art Institute was cool...Millenium Park was bustling...and there was lots of green beer available. Jacob received his award for winning the state art poster contest. Look how proud he is (below) with his teacher, Debbie Thompson, my buddy.

Off to Chicago today

We arrived back to Illinois Sunday afternoon. Luckily the weather warmed up quite a bit since we had left for Savannah the week before. Today it's going to be 70!

Today I am going to Chicago's Art Institute with my art teacher friend, Debbie. One of her students, Jacob, won the Illinois State Art Poster contest with a piece of work that was done in Debbie's class. This is the SECOND time one Debbie's kids have won this state award.

Tomorrow, I will be getting back to my easel. I've been itchy to be creative.

Got a call today from an organization wanting me to donate one of my paintings to their art sale fundraiser. How do many of you (artists) feel about this? I have no problem donating to causes I feel personally attached to, but at times some of these organizations treat the artist (unknowingly, of course) as a free meal ticket. I haven't donated to these folks before, but know of them well. A couple of my artist peers have had problems with this organization when their work didn't meet the minimum. They (the artists) wanted there art back since it didn't sell. Both of them were told that since they "donated" it, the art was now theirs. One of the artists said that she just wanted to keep it safe and, if she didn't sell it within the year, would gladly donate it again next year. If it did sell, she would donate another piece. Also, many of these organizations don't tell you how much your work went for or who it went to.

I feel bad saying no...so I probably will cave in, but with the stipulation that if it doesn't sell, I get it back. He's going to check into it. hmmm

Paul Dorrell had a great article on this same subject.