Grand Detour Arts Festival enjoys good weather and great crowd

"Venetian Shadows," 20" x 24", oil on canvas

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

Yesterday was the 59th Grand Detour Arts Festival. The heat and humidity from earlier in the week was gone and cooler and drier weather greeted both artists and the public alike. Last year we had drizzly rain all day and the year before that the heat was in the mid 90s.

What's nice about this show is that artists are allowed to setup their tents the day before the show, with the knowledge that the John Deere Historic Site does not provide security after it shuts down in the evening. So, the day of the show, exhibitors just need to bring in their work and set up right away. Much less hassle.

Only thing that was kind of snarky were the blasted mosquitos. We're on a river peninsula and we had a lot of standing water for a couple of weeks when the river was very high. Perfect breeding ground. I did take citronella candles and had them burning most of the day. Worked pretty darn good.

My booth location was great. All shade...all the time. I sold two originals (woo hoo). They are pictured above, several prints, and lots of art note cards. That was topped off with an award for Best Oils.

Today, I'm on the couch resting my tired legs. Doing these kind of shows is exhausting. Kind of like your own wedding day when you have to be "on" all the time and be sure to talk to everyone that comes by.

Well...back to reality. We have a full house of bed & breakfast checking in today around noon. Then they are having a private dinner in our restaurant this evening. Monday is supposed to be a day we take off, but if the customer is willing to pay a minimum amount for us to open up, then we're back in business. Jeff is being a sweetheart by cleaning the bedrooms this morning so I can chill for awhile. He just left to go play golf. So, I need to throw some clothes on and go to the inn to wait for the check-ins. Maybe I'll start a new painting today....

I really need to be getting ready for the show...

Between wiring paintings and putting together my prints for this weekend's show, working at the inn (finally finished the waitstaff schedule through 12/8/07 wooo hooo), and other busy work, I sat down and read some of my favorite artist blogs.

One is Lines and Colors. Mentioned on the blog is daily painter, Qiang Huang, and this YouTube video of one of his paintings. Very nice. Enjoy it.

Good Weather coming for Grand Detour Art Festival

If you're in Grand Detour, Illinois area this Sun., 9/9, drop by the John Deere Site for the 59th Grand Detour Arts Festival. Weather is supposed to be in the 70s. Oh yeah.

I received the Best of Show at last year's show. This might be my last year exhibiting at this show. Getting to be too much work, but anything can happen by next year.

The postcard pictured above was designed by little ole' me.

Getting ready for an outdoor show

"Three Amigos," 24"x 24", oil board

Finished this painting today. I renamed it from "Flower Power 2" to "Three Amigos." Don't know why, but it seemed to fit better.

I have one more in this series to start. It will be smaller, 20" x 16" and it will be acrylic. I want to do something that I can finish in a sitting and have it ready for an outdoor show this weekend. This is the only outdoor show I do because it's only 2 blocks from my house and it's just so much work. It's the 59th Grand Detour Arts Festival. Hopefully, the weather will be good.

Pretty tired today. My daughters and I threw a surprise 50th birthday party for my husband. Almost 50 people came. It was just to be immediate family and a couple close friends, and, in truth, that's what it was. The numbers got large because we both have rather large families and Jeff is a twin, so we had Julie's inlaws too. Catered everything...played bocci ball and bags, lots of beer and wine, incredibly rich chocolate strawberry Bavarian cake, and even an impromptu cake fight between my oldest and her cousin. Laughed our butts off. Weather was in the mid 80s, sunny, and low humidity.

I learned how to play "flippy cup." The twenty somethings say it's a TEAM sport. Well we won, but my head paid the price this morning. Gotta love Advil. Feel good now, especially since I got to paint uninterrupted for 4.5 hours.

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.

Flower Power done!

Flower Power
24" x 24" oil on board

Got this puppy finished. Lots of interuptions today and didn't get started until close to noon. But once I got settled, put some music on, it finally came together. The flower was tough, but I think it works now.

So, I started the companion piece for "Flower Power" below. It's also a 24" x 24" oil on board. Got some values put in before my dog, Annie, got hungry. So did her owner, actually.

Had to deliver two paintings to a customer today also. It's been a great summer for painting sales. Only problem is that in 3 weeks I'm exhibiting at the 59th Grand Detour Arts Festival and my inventory is suddenly a tad low. Oh well, these are the kind of problems we all wish for!

My daughter, Morgan, is moving back to Chicago this week (finally got a new more roomates!) and we're driving back and forth getting her settled. She's starting her senior year at Univ. of Illinois Chicago. Sure liked having her around this past month. She's an excellent bartender and waitress and she really helped out at our business. Gonna miss her. Nice to have someone to talk to in the evening.

Draggin' my Ass like an Aligator.....

The finished mural.

Boy am I pooped. What a week!

We finished the mural with the kids from the probation office. What a great way to work off your community service, right?

Yesterday we painted with the kids and today (a.m.) Debbie, Arin and I went in and did the final touches like outlining, adding flourishes, and playing with the copper and gold metallic paints. People have been spreading the word and our url link to this project and we have received very positive comments.

About 1 p.m. we finished today and then I went to work with Jack at AAV (web design) until around 5 p.m. I went home and created the 'Now Showing" slide show on the gallery I volunteer with (and show with), The Next Picture Show. A new show opened TONIGHT called "She." An all women's show. Fatigue had set in, but I knew I should show up since I had two pieces juried into the show. I got there just as the last 3 crackers on the tray were ready to be snatched up and of course, a fine plastic cup of "Winking Owl" Chardonnay was waiting for me!

At that very moment, they were announcing Best of Show. Guess who won that puppy? yep. me. Who woulda thunk it? It's the pear picture in this post. I accepted the check, another cup of fine wine, called home to order a pasta special (at our restaurant) and drove my tired butt home.

Tomorrow starts off early. We have b&b guests tonight. Take care.

We just had a cool front come in. It's going down to 50 F tonight. Yeah baby.

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).

Plugging away at Flower Power

All of our plans to go to the Sweet Corn Festival in Mendota fell through today (Sunday) and so it was a great time to tackle Flower Power for a 2nd day of painting. Also, the weather was to be around 95 degrees and high humidity. No amount of beer and free sweet corn on the cob will make that comfortable for watching a parade.

This painting session I lightened the lights and darkened the darks quite a bit. The "crappy look" that was bugging me in my last post is starting to seep away. Still have to really tackle that flower, but the cup is coming along. Need to work on the reflections and the rim of the cup seems kinda wobbly.

Good week in sales also. Sold a big one I thought would never go...."Primary Colors." The next day, a friend and collector called and wants the last still life I just finished, "Still Life with Copper Bowl" (she saw it on my blog before I had a chance to post it to my website) and a human study called, "Saturday Night Rush." The last one is on a "layaway plan", heh. It works for me and her!

Well, gotta clean up. Jeff, Morgan, and I are actually doing a FAMILY thing together. We're running out to see the movie, "The Simpsons," and then out to Willy's for Mexican and BIG AS YOUR HEAD Marghueritas! That's what my newly 21-year-old daughter calls them. So what sounds better than that on a hot August afternoon? Not much.


Flower Power

All in a day's work...much work to be done
24"x 24" oil on board

Started three new still lifes featuring zinnias, cosmos, and different containers. Last night I underpainted 3 boards and sketched out the paintings.

I only put in around 4 hours of work because the weather is being tempermental with the light changing so rapidly with every passing thunderstorm. Thought I was going to go blind at one point.

The painting above is just the beginning. It's an oil on 24" x 24" gessobord. I hit the "this is the ugliest piece of crap" in record time....maybe an hour. Trying to keep the oranges, fuscias and pinks brilliant is a true challenge. By the end of this session, I started to see a progression from the "crap" stange. hee

Dogs day of summer!

Still Life with Copper Bowl
16" x 20", oil on board

I finished the above painting this past Monday morning. In a previous post, I learned about the use of the medium, Liquin, from Tracy Helgeson's blog. So this is my first piece of work done with Liquin and I have to say I really like it and will continue to use it. Once the Liquin is added, even my stiffest, driest paints are buttery smooth. It's especially nice when working on gessobord.

This week has been chuck full with activities away from the easel. Three days were spent working at Affinity AV. Learning a lot about website development and production. Mural work on Monday evening, and our restaurant and B&B has been very busy. Summer, you know. The weather has been in the 90s seems like forever and people don't even like to think about cooking--indoors or out.

Once everyone checks out on Sunday, I hope to run up to my studio and get some boards prepped for my next set of paintings!

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.

Still Life with Copper

I got back to a still life of a copper bowl with apples and asparagus on a silver tray that was started a couple of weeks ago.

The picture below is the 2nd day's work. One more day, about an hour, will do it. It got a bit wet and I got tired of looking at I'm still dragging my butt like an alligator from whatever ailment I picked up last week. Don't get me wrong...I feel MUCH better, just a tad punky...can't explain it exactly.

I am a fan of Tracy Helgeson's work and read her blog almost every day. We definitely have different styles, but she has been very forthcoming in her painting techniques whenever anyone asks her about them. Be sure to check out her blog soon! The reason I mention Tracy is that she told me that to finish her oils quickly and then send them to her various galleries, she uses Liquin as a medium with her oils. It makes the paint a bit translucent, very spreadable, and helps the paint dry much more quickly. the 2nd picture I gave Liquin a try. Oh...she also mentioned that Liquin gives the paint a nice even sheen, making it possible to not have to varnish! Now, that is a time saver!

Well, I just fed my dog, Annie, and now I must start getting prepared for a children's acrylic painting class Tuesday and Thursday. It starts at 9 a.m. for 2 hours. Not bad. The last I heard there will be 8 kids. Hopefully, I'll have enough paint and supplies. I took some pics of my zinnias to do large simple closeup paintings of. Three of the choices are just below.

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.

Holiday over...back to reality

16" x 20" oil/gessobord, still thinking on the title
unfinished...will try to finish another day...when the oil sets up a bit.

All in a day's work here. Peonies and a Japanese Iris in a glass vase were started today, along with another still life of apples, asparagus, and a copper bowl below. Both are 16" x 20", oil on gessobord.
The copper bowl one should be a challenge. I don't think I've done that yet, and it will have the added challege of a silver tray near the bottom.

All my holiday company left yesterday morning. It was fun having them, but they really pooped me out! It wasn't just them, but also canoing all afternoon on the 4th with 5 canoes and a kayak, unknown quantities of beer, cooking massive quantities of food at the cabin afterwards, 3 dogs having fun in the water....and laughing, laughing, laughing. It was almost better than art.
I also worked at the gallery's outdoor show on Saturday (90 degrees) all day. Got there at 6:30 a.m. to help set up the information booth, make coffee, help checkin artists and answer questions. Busy day, but it seemed rather successful for the artists. Lots of customers walking around with purchased art work!

Near the end of the canoing/eat fest at the cabin. Chris and poor Guiness.
That dog will never be the same. Don't worry, the cigarette was never lit.

The restaurant was also open Thurs through Saturday, Dixon had their yearly Petunia Festival, the kids would party all evening, sleep all day, schedules and plans were changed so often, I gave up and did what I had to do.

But that's what summer and family is all about...with a good mix of friends.

Yesterday evening we catered a fundraiser at the gallery which finished up with Dixon's fireworks. I made it to 9 p.m., but was so tired, I just headed home and was asleep on the couch by 10 pm. Totally wonderful sleep know the kind that you drool uncontrolably...? heh

No easel time this week.

Due to a very busy week, my time at the easel will be non-existent. Both of my daughters will be home at the same time. My oldest, from Savannah GA, and her young man are arriving today. Also arriving is my youngest from Chicago. Both girls and Jeff (dad) spent a couple of days at my in-laws lake house in Indiana. I didn't go because I had a lot to do and these past 2 days alone have been quite nice. My own little vacation.

One of the things I had to do is hang my show (above) at The Next Picture Show gallery in Dixon. I am the featured artist from July 1 until Jul 15. As an exhibiting artist member of the gallery, we have the opportunity to be featured at the front of the gallery for 2 weeks (or more) a year.

My buddy, Debbie, joined me this past Sunday to help hang it. Those gessobord paintings (the larger ones) are on the heavy side. The gallery was closed that day, so we took our time and then walked down to the Thai restaurant for a nice lunch al fresco! A beautiful day.

Yesterday, Monday, was spent doing laundry at my house and at our bed & breakfast. We had a full house of guests Friday and Saturday evenings and with kids coming home, I realized that I had NO beds that were clean and made up!

The kids just called and said they'll be home by 12:30 p.m. or so and so yesterday I did all the prep work for tonight's dinner. One of my daughters does not eat much in the meat category, so it's always a bit of a challenge.

Tomorrow, the 4th of July, I have made the one big plan that everyone is pretty much required to attend. Debbie's family and my family will be canoing down the Rock River from the Oregon, IL damn to a cabin that Debbie and John are renting this year. It's very rustic, but after a few beers, and 3 hours of canoeing, it'll be a palace....if you know what I mean. The weather geeks are predicting a chance of severe thunderstorms the same day, but Debbie says you always plan as if it's going to be beautiful and then be flexible! So as soon as I finish this post, I have to start my famous potato salad to bring tomorrow. We're also taking fixings for Jeff's famous GRILLED Romaine Salad. Yes, grilled. It's so good.

My mom and a couple of my sisters (I have 5 sisters) are coming up this week to stop by the gallery and then to dinner at our restaurant to see the kids. We're trying to get together on Friday evening. Everyone leaves by Saturday in the morning.

Next Monday will be my first sleep-in-late day in weeks.

Have a happy 4th of July everyone!

Painting with's a good thing.

"Next to Bill's Place," 16" x 20"
Acrylic on Gessobord

Yesterday (Sun.), Debbie, Mary, and I got together for a painting day at Mary's place. We had such a nice afternoon. The energy that flows when everyone is zeroing in on their own work and just babbling on about any subject that popped into our heads.

Of course, we did have a couple pitches of "Mary's Concoction" that helped loosen lips!

I started -- and finished -- a 16" x 20" acrylic on gessobord that day. The painting was relatively simple and with using acrylics, it just went very quickly. The house in the upper left corner is Debbie's late father-in-law's house. The garden is the next door neighbor's yard. It's always in bloom and I almost caused an accident by pulling my car over so quickly to get a picture. Dangerous, that's what I am.

Mary finished up two 8" x 10" oils. She is an extremely busy woman with a high-pressure job in the city. For her to come out and just find time to paint at her country place is a monumental feat. These two paintings took 3 years to paint. The important thing is, SHE FINISHED with encouragement from the peanut gallery (guess who those people were).

Debbie started a 12" x 30" oil landscape. The view I am showing here is about 3/4's of the way done. She actually did finish this painting in an afternoon. She was in an oil painting workshop the day before and did the same painting but on a different size canvas...more of a 20 x 24 size. She thought the image she was working on would be more interesting in the size show. Good choice.

Tomorrow I'm taking several paintings to a photographer to get quality tiffs and jpegs. I will be featured artist at our local gallery from July 1-15. I'm showing twelve paintings, most of them new. I prefer to have my paintings photographed professionally rather than me dicking around trying to get good sized jpegs without glare and such. I do an okay job for images on the blog and stuff, but for my website and juried shows, the cost is worth having quality stuff.

Eggplant done! Now it's time for a movie and pie.

"Laying Down on the Job", 30" x 30"
Oil on Board

Another still life done. First time for eggplants. Kinda pears. My light fluctuated quite a bit today. We had some pretty powerful thunderstorms come through with periods of sun breaking through. Glad for the rain. It's been well over a week since the last rain and the weather has been in the 90s for the last few days. I'm not big on heat...nope. I'm definitely a fall and winter kind of gal.

Well, it's time to clean up the studio and me. Going to Debbie's with a goofy romance comedy, "Music & Lyrics," (thank you Netflix) and we had a whole pie left over from our restaurant. It's called Aunt Gurley Mae's Key Lime Pie. It's a recipe of Jeff's great aunt and it is a thing of beauty. Maybe I should paint it. heh

Before I get to my easel...

Just got back from my body sculpting class at the Y. While waiting for my muscles to stop shaking, I will quickly post a picture of a chair I painted for The Next Picture Show's (gallery in Dixon, IL) fundraiser this past Saturday morning. We had around 8 people of all ages and experience levels painting together. It was fun and relaxing. I need to paint in groups more often. The picture is a bit dark as I don't really like to use flash because it tends to over expose and shows a lot of glare.

Well, no more procrastinating. Time to get my sore buns upstairs and finish that eggplant still life and sketch out something new. Blog to you all later....