The Fields Project

From the air...3 field designs. Very cool.

One of the artists wrapped a corn silo. Double cool.

Well, no studio time again. And the sad part is, it didn't bother me. Hope this doesn't last too long.

However, this past Monday Debbie and I went into the courthouse to finish the last few details of the mural we created with her daughter, Arin (off to Southern Illinois University to pursue another masters in writing), and a whole bunch of young people of all ages.

The last of the pictures are still in my camera. Just can't seem to finish anything these days. The mural blog so far is When you can, jump to it and see the process. Today, I promise, to finish that blog. really...I mean it.

This past Sunday was the final day of The Fields Project also. It's a collaboration of artists and farm families. Bringing agriculture and art together...two completely different worlds colliding. It's awesome and has been going on for almost 10 years.

One of my favorite artists, Anne Leuck Feldhaus of Chicago, has been a participant for several years. She says it all, both in word and pictures, in THIS POST. Get a cup of coffee, sit back and view her Flickr slideshow.

until later...

Six trees in 2 weeks...gone

one of the smaller trees we lost.

2 downed cables of live wires going across our main walk to the inn.

Last Sunday at 6 a.m. I was awoken by my living room fall blowing out the window onto the floor.

A microburst is what they call them. My husband, who had been at our inn (right next door) getting breakfast started for our guests, came in and said that we had lost 4 trees and the live wires for the inn and restaurant were down again. Yes, the Sunday before we had another storm that knocked down the wires. It's been a ComEd couple of weeks.

This spring has been a doozy to say the least. We live by the Rock River (one block to our west and three blocks to our east) and it has been closed to river traffic due to the high waters. Luckily, our section of the village sits high enough up, that only the bottom lands get flooded.

We don't have problems with direct flooding or dry wells!

All in all, painting has been on the back burner for me. Painting for me that is. Yesterday, we finished the Lee County Juvenile Probation mural at the courthouse. Came out better than I thought it would. It got pretty sloppy at one point. Some of the children we worked with were a bit young or didn't have their hearts in it. the end, with the help of a couple of the older kids and Mary (the leader of the probation dept.), we gotter' done!

More pics later.

Here is the blog I created for that project. I haven't loaded the last pics yet, because I've been so busy. Will try to do that today.

Sorry...Overwhelmed is the least of it

This is the initial watercolor sketch by Debbie Thompson for the background of "The Mural Project 2"

I've been going in three different directions these last few weeks and haven't had time to blog. I know...sounds ridiculous, but what can I say?

My job with Affinity AV (now a division of TDG Communications in Deadwood S.D) has been giving me lots more hours and taking up my only studio time. As an artist, it sucks, as a person with bills and a daughter in her senior year of college, it's a Godsend.

The inn, my other business, is picking up because of tourist season, wedding season, etc. So on my days off from AAV, I work there and do their website stuff. Don't know why I say "their stuff." It's my other business! Tells you how I feel about it anymore. The thrill is gone. You know, it's the job where you stomach hurts more the closer get to it. But, once I'm there and working with my clientele, I actually enjoy it. It's just putting on the cute clothes, heels, makeup, and smile that take the toll.

Debbie, Arin, and I started the 2nd Lee County Juvenile Probation Mural a couple of weeks ago. We're on our last week now. It's been a real task, but very rewarding. Most of the kids seem to enjoy it .... others, not so much. Oh well, different strokes for different folks. It beats picking up trash on the highway in 90 degree heat. I've started a mural2 blog to show our project.

Go to:

After the mural painting tomorrow, I have been asked to show my work at a Sauk Valley Bank's newest facility in Dixon for the upcoming month. So I have to go hang a show! I'm pulling out as many paintings as I can find since I haven't been producing much in the last month. There are a lot sketched out, but that's about it.


The freakin' weather. The midwest has been deluged with rain, bad thunderstorms, tornadoes, and now flooding. We've lost six, count 'em, 6 trees and have had downed live wires twice.


Although we haven't had to water. And my tomatoes are going nuclear!

Another mural illustration

Illustration #3 for Lee County Mural: the Dixon arch

This one didn't take as much time as the other two (see previous post), obviously, but the hand sketching took some time because folks, arches are HARD. And trying to make it a bit funky and cartoony is even harder.

Have to go into Dixon to work today...have my graphic design hat on today. When I get home, I hope to start on the Franklin Creek grist mill. Here is the photo of it below.

Stay tuned....


In Illustration mode...

Sketch of Nachusa House in Dixon.

Debbie, Arin, and I are getting ready for our 2nd commissioned mural to do for Lee County Juvenile Probation department. This one will be quite a bit larger.

We also will be working with several young juvenile offenders hand-picked by the probation department to assist in creating this piece of art.

The last time we did this, we totally depended on the actual kids' work (which we enlarged on the wall). This time, the work will be more of the three artists' work. The mural, which is quite long, will depict an aerial view of Lee County's countryside, with the Rock River flowing through it. Along the way there will be buildings/landmarks of several towns in the county.

Sketch of Amboy Depot in Amboy, IL.

Yesterday afternoon I started on the buildings. I wanted them to be more quirky/funky, but still look recognizable. The Nachusa House in Dixon was my first attempt and the Amboy Depot was my second.

I found pictures of the buildings and hand sketched with pencil my vision of each building. Then I put the sketch into Photoshop and using a Wacom tablet, sketched and "painted" them.

I still have several more to go. These will then be enlarged on top of the aerial landscape and painted by all of us.

This is kind of a nice break from painting. It sure is a heck of a lot easier to clean up. Just sitting at my kitchen table and smelling the aroma of a slow cooking pot roast, has made this a very good day indeed.

Oh yeah...I'm making winter comfort food because the weather turned to crap again. We actually had snow/slush falling at different points during the day. That is so wrong on so many levels.

Until later.


A weekend of art obligations

"Auction Apples," 24"x36"? (a guess), acrylic on canvas

Step One....

Step Two...

This past Saturday, Debbie Thompson, Todd Lorenc, and I participated in a charity benefit for Alzheimers in Rockford, Illinois. Fifty artists painted on site from start to finish. The paintings were then auctioned off. It's a long day of standing on cement and trying to pull off a completed painting in such a short time. But, it's also a fun day of networking with lots of artists of all different styles. Doesn't hurt when the wine starts flowing when the public arrives. Oh...there was a chocolate vendor that made the sore legs all worth it!

My finished (?) piece is the top picture. Really could have used a bit longer, but that's the way it goes. I've also included the beginning/middle stages of the apples.

There's Todd just above working on his funky guy. It was fun watching him bring this piece to life.

Debbie did an impressionistic fall landscape. Thought we were going to lose her to panic for awhile. Todd and I had to talk her down. The piece came out we knew it would.

We left around 10 p.m. to drive back to Dixon. Got home around 11 and visited with Debbie's houseguest, Katie (in from Florida). Katie was in town and she helped out at The Next Picture Show by announcing the winners for the "Sculpture, Clay, and Fiber" show opening.

So, we sat and talked (they drank more wine...I was a good monkey) until almost 2 a.m. Crap. I was pooped. But a good pooped, so to speak.

I was going to work in my studio today. Even went out and picked some daffodils to set up a still life. But, I have 3 pm meeting at the courthouse today. Debbie, Arin, and I are doing another mural with some of the juvenile offenders again. This mural will be larger and more complex. It's our first meeting with the kids, their parents, and the probation department.

I'll report more on that in the near future.

Starting on Her Majesty

Step cad underpainting with quick sketch painted in.

Next step and end of day 2...blocking in colors. Where there is red showing is where I need to paint.

Started a 24" x 24" oil on board with red cad underpainting. This farm house is somewhere out in the country around here. Debbie and I took a drive in the early spring during the evening looking for interesting barns/buildings/landscapes. My memory doesn't allow me to remember where exactly this was. The painting right now is about half done. The windows are all cock-eyed and stuff, but accuracy wasn't my main goal today. That will come later.

I only got in a couple of hours of work today. This past August Debbie, her daughter, Arin, and I participated in "The Mural Project" with 4 kids in the juvenile probation system. They were looking for new ways for juvenile offenders to work off their community service in more productive ways. We all created a 10' x 20' long mural of "magical trees."

Today we were invited to a reception honoring all of us and the kids. It was very nice. Rumor has it that there are more murals in our future. Cool.

Then Debbie and I and our husbands went to Kelly's in Sterling for some tasty food and a couple of beers. Hit the spot.

Juvenile Probation Mural Underway

We had our second painting day today with the 5 teens that we're working with in creating a mural for the waiting room of the Lee County Juvenile Probation office. It is 10' x 20'.

Debbie, Arin (her daughter), and I are the artists supervising and teaching. Kinda fun so far. The kids seem to open up and relax the more they work on this.

The kids finished their individual tree paintings and then the 3 of us painted the background. Tomorrow we sketch out the kids trees and Friday, they will be painting them.

I've started a blog just for this project. It is in Wordpress. First time using it and it was okay to use. Still have a way to go on Wordpress, but like the looks of the templates better than blogger (which is what I use).

Weird week

"Peonies Showing Off"
20" x 16", oil on board

You know what happens when you burn the candle at both ends for too long? The aching flu happens, that's what! Sunday night was the crash and burn night and I've been battling since then. I did manage to finish the Peony painting above on Monday. Turned out better than I thought it would. The background has a lot of gloss in it, so taking the picture was a real challenge. I was going to start on the second still life that was started last week, but my medication wore off and I got too pooped to pop!

My friend, Debbie, also came down with the same illness ... we burned that same candle together....but she added another illness on top of it -- LYME DISEASE. She has always been an overachiever. She called me yesterday and is finally feeling better. Good thing. The entire town of Dixon, Illinois is probably wondering where in the heck are the Dynamic Duo!

Next week I am scheduled to teach a children's art class for two days and I just finally decided on what to do with them. My gardens this year are really looking great. We've had a good rainy summer (so far) and my tall garden zinnias are the brightest fuschias, oranges, magentas, and pinks. I think we'll do close-ups of the flower heads in acrylics.

The week after that Debbie, her daughter Arin, and I will be starting a 10' H x 20' W mural with 6 teenagers from the probation services. The Lee County Probation office picked the kids that would seem a good fit for this kind of project. It will take care of their public service. It's the first time anything like this has been done and so we are all very excited, but kind of nervous at the same time.

Our subject is going to be trees. Not a typical boring landscape, but each kid's interpretation of a tree. In earlier posts, Debbie and I did murals with her art students at the local hospital. This spring we finished our 3rd one. They were all kids' interpretations of: happy houses, cats, then dogs.

We will take their paintings a tree and put it into an interesting composition and then sketch it out on the wall and everyone will work on painting their trees on the wall. They'll each help each other and learn something. I will be starting a new blog just for this project. Arin is a wonderful writer also and she will be journeling this whole process. It really is cool. Keep an eye out for the new blog address. I have to see if I want to use wordpress or blogger. Wordpress has much nicer templates, but we'll see.

Until later.